A Thanksgiving Sale!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow? What??! How did that even happen? And why am I even surprised since I’m pretty sure I said the same thing last year (and the year before).

We’re headed to Shaun’s grandma’s house for her annual feast tomorrow, and, with a broken oven, I’m not real sure what I’m going to contribute. A smile? 8 hungry mouths? Oh yeah. We’re going to be the hit of the party.

Speaking of parties, our grand opening week for Paint and Prose (www.paintandprose.com) was pretty much a never-ending fiesta of late nights and fun! As long as printing mailing labels is your definition of fun.

No, but seriously. We are so grateful for every order and really pretty blown away by how successful you guys made our very first week.

And it really was fun! I remember grinning at my husband at about 12:47 AM one night (morning?) and saying, “You know, I’m really tired, but it’s really fun to be working with you on something we both love!” And he grinned right back and said, “Yup. I know what you mean.”

So! Since Black Friday is a mere 48 hours away, we thought we’d keep the party rolling with a 30% off coupon code that starts now (and will be good through Monday). If there’s a print you’ve had your eye on for yourself or as a Christmas gift, you can nab it at a discount (with free shipping always)!

To get the code, simply sign up for our Paint and Prose newsletter–where you’ll receive discounts, freebies, printables, and other fun goodies. You’ll always be the first to know about our best deals, and we’ll never spam you or sell your info. Pinky promise.


Maybe you or someone you know could use this little ditty for her kitchen or coffee bar.


(I’m thinking a #butfirsthocho should be in the works for the very near future)

OH! And remember our 5th Christmas print that we asked for your feedback about? stagedpic1

Y’all liked Joy to the World so much that we decided to make a coordinating “The Lord is Come.” I love them paired with the stripey, scrolly goodness of “Noel.”

Speaking of which…


Not gonna lie, though. This one may be my new fave. It’s just so stinkin’ CUTE and would be great for a neutral or colorful nursery alike!


Lions and tigers and bears! #ohmy


I know you guys have already seen our Baby It’s Cold Outside print, but…well, it’s cute. And I couldn’t help myself.


Likewise with this one. We did a handmade Christmas gift market this past weekend, and we got a bunch of chuckles out of it.


Oh! And our neutral Kitchen Essentials has been killing it! I totally thought the colorful one would sell better, but, boy, was I wrong. You guys like your neutrals!


I honestly don’t have room for all of our kitchen prints in my own kitchen, but I honestly wish I did. I love them all!


Fun tidbit: we shared a booth at the Christmas market with a lady selling homemade jam. She loved our “You Are My Jam” print so much that she bought one. And I loved her jams and jellies so much that I brought home two jars (pictured on the left there).


The #icanteven laundry print has been another popular one. But that one didn’t surprise me a bit. I think we’re all pretty acquainted with that feeling.


Obviously, this one works well for Thanksgiving, but I kind of love it for all the time too.

And, last but not least, this is such a great reminder.

give me jesus

Okay, I’m done showing off our prints. I honestly feel like a proud mama passing around snaps of her new baby, and I hope that you guys love them as much as we do!

If you see something you like, don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to get your coupon code!

And may your Thanksgiving be full of laughter, joy, good food, and family! And WORKING OVENS! Amen.

I’ve got the blues (nail polish, that is)

I’ve subconsciously been on the hunt for the perfect glossy turquoise nail polish. I say subconsciously because it’s hardly been an active search. I’ve yet to enter a store that sells nail polish with the express goal of finding said perfect turquoise tone. But I will casually scan the selections, and any time something close catches my eye, pick it up for a quick once-over.

Apparently I’m picky because I’ve passed over who-knows-how-many bottles for being too shiny, too dark, too light, too sparkly, too Texan (because there is a particular shade that should be called Texas Turquoise, and it’s almost always paired with rhinestones and zebra print. And, despite being a Texan, I am not a fan).

Just the other day, though, on a random jaunt through Marshall’s, I found it!

I wasn’t even looking, but there it was. Calling my name. You better believe I answered the call too.

The thing is, my love of blue nail polish is hardly limited to turquoise. I love them all–the ones with the gray undertones, the purply ones, the deep navies. I’ll wear them all.

In short, I’m a blue girl. At least when it comes to my nails.

I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that the following shades represent only about half of the blue polishes I own, but I love (and regularly wear) all of them, so I thought I’d share, just in case you too are into the oxygen-deprived fingernail look.

nail polish

From left to right, we have: Formula X by Sephora – Massive, Ulta – Mint Condition, OPI – Can’t Find My Czechbook (oooooookay), OPI – Taylor Blue, OPI – Ski Teal We Drop, Sally Hanson Complete Salon Manicure – Dark Huemoor

By golly, those nail-polish-namers are a punny bunch.

Oh! And just in case you were wondering what that perfect turquoise shade was, it’s this one.

nail polish1

OPI – Taylor Blue

Ha! I posted that shot of my “nails” (that cookie, though) to Instagram as an example of how the internet had failed me. FYI: if your oven is on the fritz, and the internet tells you that you can still easily make chocolate chip cookies in a skillet on your stove-top, don’t believe them. I tried every heat setting, but they. all. burned. (I was using a cast-iron skillet, so maybe that was the culprit?).

ANYhoo, here’s a little better shot of the actual color:

nail polish3

So, shout-out out to all my fellow polish-lovers. Do y’all fixate on a certain color too? I’m a fan of pretty much every color out there, but I’m definitely partial to blues and corals.

Also? Did you know that the absolute best place to find name brand nail polishes like OPI and Essie and China Glaze at a discounted price is at Marshall’s and Ross and such-like stores? They have tons of colors, and none of them cost more than $4, which is usually at least half of what you’d paid at Ulta or Sephora.

Della is FIVE!

Today is a busy day. I’m teaching BODYPUMP, throwing a combined birthday party (for Della and Simon because they’re always so close to Thanksgiving, which means Simon never gets a party unless we do a combo deal), and working a market event for Paint and Prose.

But I couldn’t let the day get pass without bragging on my newly minted 5-year-old!

I know some of you have been reading M is for Mama (way back when it was still Five days…5 Ways) long enough to remember the first time that I posted this shot of Della.

wideeyed della

She was seven months old in this pic, and I think I posted it my first month of blogging.


Because here’s what she looks like now.


How????? How is my baby girl so tall and slim and poised?

Despite having 3 that are younger than Della, some little corner of her brain has considered her my “baby” since she was born.

And that pretty much never changed…even when she started using big words like, “Incredib-wee” and “Fwust-wating.”


Baby? Really, mama? My size 6 pants are too short!


We had a bit of a rough go of it at the very beginning of age 4. After being the world’s sweetest, most pliable child for 3.95 years, things went a little haywire. But they’ve since smoothed out, and little miss Adelaide is back to being a ray of sunshine. della510

In fact, a few weeks ago, she came to me, looking shy, and said, “Mama? Do you know what I just did?”

“No, baby. What?” I said.

“I just asked to become a child of God.”

And I could tell by the serious look in her storm blue eyes that she meant it.

I sat her down, and we talked (again) about why we needed Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins that we could never pay, but she was saying everything practically before I could ask the next question. I know that she will continue to grow in knowledge and truth and wisdom and familiarity with the Bible and her walk with Jesus, but that was the moment I will remember as Della’s at least having an inkling of her need for a Savior. And it was a good one. della511

Truth be told, Della can get a bit lost in the shuffle. She’s happy to tag along with her brothers or “direct” her twin sisters, and she rarely needs me for entertainment, so, unless we’re reading a book on the couch, doing her school together, or having a discipline issue, I can go whole days without doing much more than greeting her in the morning and then making sure that she’s fed all day. Of course, there’s more interaction than that, but it’s not always as meaningful as I would hope.

Which is why I was thrilled when my mom took the oldest two boys and the twins, leaving me with only Della and Theo to run errands, eat lunch together, and just generally get to enjoy my newly minted 5-year-old’s hilarious comments (she wanted to get the wispy pieces around her eyes cut because: “they make it hard to get to my ear wax.” Well, exCUSE me!) and take a moment to really drink in the fact that she’s no longer a baby and that she is inhabiting the role of big/biggest girl in our house so very well.


Oh, and speaking of those darn ear-wax blocking strands, I did give in to her request for a haircut because A) I was thinking she needed one already (the ends were scraggly), and B) I’ve always had a subconscious goal of her getting to 5 before we cut her Rapunzelesque locks. And we aaaaaaaaaaalmost made it!

Here’s the Before


And the almost-during…


Aaaaand the after:


Can you tell a difference? I definitely can, but this pic doesn’t do it much justice. We cut off about 4 inches, and it looks great!

I’m so glad the Lord gave me such a sweet, cheerful little 5-year-old to love. His mercies are endless.

Mining for diamonds

Remember when I talked about how Evy and Nola are finally kind of living up to the “double trouble” hype now that they’re both in full-on threenager mode?

Yeah. That.

We’ve been doing a little better recently (they’re playing together in the guestroom currently with a minimum of squawking), but there were definitely moments in the last 3 weeks or so that tested my resolve not to run screaming for the hills (or the chocolate). Most of those moments involved a fair bit of screaming of their own–in toddler form. Usually while we were all imprisoned in the same car, and the complaint had something to do with the fact that said toddler(s) had asked for a banana, and I had given her one.

If you don’t have a toddler, you’re probably like…huh? If you do have one, then you’re nodding your head like, “Yup, sounds about right.”

Remember that Christina Aguilera song: “What a girl wants, what a girl needs, whatever makes you happy sets you free?” (I do, but only because my sad post 6-kids brain keeps the junk and boots out the important stuff like Bible verses and the location of my keys). Well, good ol’ Xtina had no idea she was writing about toddlers. But she was.

Except the opposite of that.

Because the joy of toddlers is that giving them what they want does NOT make them happy half the time, and doing everything to make them happy all the time only ends up imprisoning them in a cycle of entitlement and discontentment. (Come to think of it, that’s true of just about every age).

Toddler tyranny is real, y’all. And I have only to watch my 3-year-olds’ sweet, (seemingly) guileless, cherubic little faces melt into a mask of ugly, purple rage at the word, “No,” to be reminded that sin nature is real, yo. (As if I needed a reminder when I have so many mirrors in my house).

So, why the discourse on the seedy underbelly of the toddler temperament?

Because I want you to understand that I get it. I feel your toddler-angst. Sometimes way down deep into my toenails (I miiiiiight have possibly referred to one of my children as an “emotional terrorist” after the 5th consecutive day of 20 minute car tantrums that resulted in ringing ears for everyone in a 2 miles radius).


“Don’t believe a word she says about us. We never do anything wrong. Except maybe put our shoes on backwards.” (Every. single. time)

It’s how I felt one day when I was out and about with only the twins and Theo, and I ran into the dad at Chick-fil-a whose 2-1/2-year-old twins looked angelic enough with their giant blue eyes, glossy auburn curls, and matching Texas-sized red bows.

He saw my girls and said, “Twins?” I nodded, and our eyes locked in a moment of complete understanding. And then he noticed Theo, and said, “But hey! Look at you go! You had another one! Not us. We are so done.”

I smiled and tried to decide whether I should tell him that there were 3 more before this batch. He made the decision for me when he said, “How is it with 3?”

And I said, “Good! But I actually have 3 more already.”

There was a moment of quick math, and then realization dawned all over his face, and he started shaking his head, looking a little panicked. “Six? You have six? Wow. Just wow. Oh man. No.”

I cannot emphasize enough how offended I WASN’Ty’all. Please do not read this as a gripe post because nothing could be farther from the truth.

This poor guy was clearly overwhelmed, and the thought of more than two was enough to make his eyes bug (or maybe it was the thought of 6…either way).

I smiled even wider and said, “You know, though, pretty soon, they’ll be 4, and they can buckle themselves and wipe their own bottoms–because they’re potty-trained, which is awesome. And then they’ll start helping with the dishes and telling you cool stories. And yeah. It’s really fun!” (Yes, I know. It’s not all “fun” at any age, but this guy needed to see some light).

He cocked his head, unconvinced, and said, “Well, that sounds great. I’m just ready for it to not be so hard all the time, you know? My wife stays home with them, and I just don’t know how she does it.”

As much as I appreciated his giving props to his hardworking wife, I wanted him to leave encouraged, so I said, “Yeah, I totally get. (Duuuuude. I get it) But I promise that it gets easier. I have a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old who are so great. They’re really funny and sweet, and they help around the house a ton–dishes, laundry, mopping. They even change diapers sometimes!”

The man chuckled at the thought and then looked a little worried and said: “Well, if mine are ever changing diapers, then we have a problem.”

I’m not going to lie: while I was still completely UNoffended, that last statement made me sad.

Have you ever seen this?


I feel like this is a really good metaphor for children. Not just one time, either. But many times over. (Because doesn’t it feel like no sooner have you hacked your way through all of that rock and found a bit of diamond than the whole tunnel collapses on you, and you’ve got to start all over?)

There are so many times when you think, “Nope. This is too hard. I cannot deal with ___________ for even a second longer, Lord. Surely, you can’t expect me to. It’s too much.”

And you pretty much have two choices: 1) walk away (whatever that looks like: giving down to the toddler, eating the entire bag of chocolate, losing your temper and yelling just to get the emotional release) or 2) keep chipping away. Just keep persevering. Just keep pressing on. Just keep swimming (that Dory, though; quite a philosopher, that one).

I’ve done both. I’ve quit too early. And I’ve kept on plugging along. And I’ve always regretted the former and always been so thankful for the Lord’s mercy in the latter.

Because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been absolutely convinced that the discipline is not working, that they’re just not getting it, that they will never EVER choose right on their own, and then–BOOM!–the 7-year-old is crazy-helpful in Walmart and tells you that it’s because he wants to be like Jesus, and your heart just explodes. If that’s not hitting the mother lode, y’all, I don’t know what is.

This post has nothing to do with how many children you have, so I hope you don’t get sidetracked by that. Kids can be tough, whether you have 1 or 20. But I do wish I could have had an honest conversation with that man about why he didn’t want any more children. Because, the best I could tell, his entire reasoning was that: kids equal hardship. And I don’t want that.

Don’t get me wrong, either. This guy seemed like a good egg. He was patient and kind with his daughters and sweet to his wife (at least in the brief snippet of life that I saw portrayed in a public setting). He wasn’t an ogre. He was just human with a human’s naturally shortsighted view of “suffering.”

Me too. When Nola is wailing like some sort of malfunctioning smoke alarm, all I want is for her to quit. I’m not particularly interested in learning some sort of deep spiritual lesson.

My oven broke last night. And I want it fixed. Period. I am a busy mama who does not have time for broken ovens.

But you know what? If the toddler never screamed like a banshee, then I would be infinitely less likely to throw myself on the mercies of Jesus and say, “Help me, Lord! I can’t do this on my own!” (Although it’s no less true when she’s being docile). And if my oven just kept doing its thing, I might never take a moment to be grateful for the magical contraption that usually cooks my food perfectly every time. And to pray for the mamas who don’t have anything like that luxury ever.

I think Romans 5:3-5 says it best:

“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Hope does not put us to shame. I love that!

Of course, the truth is that I have no idea what actual suffering looks like. Compared to 95% of the world, my life is a cake walk. But I am so grateful that the Lord takes my piddly little trials and works them for good in my life, patiently chipping away at my selfishness and impatience.

And I am so grateful that the Lord sees fit to keep digging through the tunnels of my heart looking for diamonds. I know they’re there because He created me in His image.

He is so kind to this child of His. May I follow His example with my own children.

P.S. This has nothing to do with this post, but we just made a new print all about COFFEE (hey, tired, overwhelmed mamas need caffeine sometimes to keep mining for those diamonds; maybe it is related to the post).

art prints collage1 See it there on the bottom right? I don’t even drink coffee, but I love it so much, I’m thinking I may just have to find a place for it in my house.

ANY orders placed by the end of today get entered to win a $15 Starbucks gift card + a Cup of Cheer print + other goodies (see more on the Paint and Prose Instagram).

The Paint and Prose Shop is LIVE!

grand opening announcement4

Wooohoooo! After way too many late nights, we managed to beat our goal of getting the shop website up and running on Monday morning by a whopping 11 minutes (at 11:49PM, to be exact).

Lindsay and I are pretty darn proud of every print we made together, and we hope you love them as much as we do.

Also? Don’t worry. This is still my personal blog. It’s still M is for Mama. I’m still Abbie.

This is not going to turn into one big advertisement Paint and Prose (although you will, of course, hear about it when we release new prints, have sales, etc.).

But I couldn’t NOT tell you when the website went live, right?

Before I let you loose into the wilds of www.paintandprose.com, though, let me point out a few things:

  1. Shipping is ALWAYS free. So, unless you’re in Texas (where we’re obligated by law to charge you sales tax), the price you see is the price you pay, period.
  2. EXCEPT when the price is lower. We are offering a never-expiring coupon code of $5 off of a $45+ order and $10 off of an $80+ order. The codes are easy–5off45 and 10off80–but don’t forget to enter them at checkout because the discount is not automatic (we wish it were, but that’s not how the shop format we use works).
  3. Anyone who orders within the first 48 hours (so, today or tomorrow) will get a choice of a free sheet of 6 “Give Thanks” place cards or our “Thankful” print
  4. This is our grand opening week, and we’re ready to paaaaaartaaay! What that looks like for you is freebies and discounts (see above) as well as a “giveaway a day.” Each day, we’ve put together a fun giveaway package, featuring some really sweet stores or just cute stuff we thought y’all would like + a Paint and Prose art print.
  5. We’d love it if you’d spread the word about P+P. (And no, I don’t mean Pride and Prejudice; most people already know about that, especially the Colin Firth version). You can do this by pinning our prints directly from the website or sharing any of our images (with credit) on social media. If you DO share or pin, be sure to tag us (@paintandprose), and we’ll give you the appropriate number of entries into our kick-off giveaway which is…
  6. $100 of shop credit to Paint and Prose. Yiipppeeee!
  7. Psssst! Follow along with Facebook or Instagram to learn more about the giveaways!

I know you guys already saw our Christmas line, but I also snapped a few pics of Paint and Prose prints around the house and thought I’d share.


I’ve never gotten around to updating the nursery from twin to Theo mode (he doesn’t seem to mind), but I did add in this “You’ve Captured My Heart” print that I designed, and Lindsay was kind enough to draw for Theo’s shower almost a year go (before we even considered doing Paint and Prose).


This colorful ampersand is pretty much the perfect punch of color for a gallery wall. I can’t wait to show you the entire updated little girls’ room in our house!


I posted about this “Now is NOW” print months ago, but neither one of us were in love with the design once we really figured out what our “look” was. So, we redesigned it completely, and I’m happy to say that it’s even better than before.


This one makes me laugh so hard pretty much every time I see it (ask Lindsay or Shaun). We both love our husbands to distraction, so that’s TOTALLY not the point of the print. It’s more like: sometimes we find ourselves in frustrating circumstances (yes, even with those sweet hubbies of ours), and the outcome is always better when you ask the Lord to help you channel your angst elsewhere. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.


We have an entire #hashtag print series, and I love the vintage suitcases + globe on this one. If you need me, I’ll be sitting in a corner with it, dreaming of Santorini.


In case you’re wondering, marshmallows in the shape of snowmen don’t taste any better than the normal kind. But they sure do look cuter with our “Cup of Cheer” print close by!


I luuuuurve this “Kitchen Essentials” print in our bright, poppy colorway. But, never fear, neutral-lovers–we made one for you too!

Those are all of the prints that I had a chance to photograph in my house, but they are not ALL that we have to offer, so–if you’re so inclined–head on over to www.paintandprose.com and have a look around.  (Don’t forget your coupon codes!)

I would love to hear from you about which prints are your faves and where you would put them in your home (or to whom you would give them as gifts!)

How to Layer a Thanksgiving Table

Okay, before I begin, let me confess that my title is considerably more pretentious than I mean it to be. Because I don’t know “how to” layer a Thanksgiving table. I only know how to layer my Thanksgiving table.

And, while I am firmly in the moral absolutes crowd, I am much more wishy-washy when it comes to hard line decorating do’s and don’ts. Which…is probably why, when my husband said, “Uh, those aren’t Thanksgiving colors,” I just shrugged and said, “Oh well, I like them!”

So, there you have it, my best bit of advice for creating a successful Thanksgiving table: decorate it how you like it.


Ahem. No, but seriously. I do love me a good layered look (minimalist who? not me) without veering into clutter, so I gave that tricky and far from succinctly titled decor challenge a go.

How’d it turn out? Well, it ended up looking a little something like this.


And I like it. So, there’s that.

So, here we go with how I made it happen.


I’m guessing the progression is pretty obvious, but from top left and then traveling left to right and downward, I added:

  1. A tablecloth–I bought this one at Anthropologie back in the spring on maaaaaajor sale
  2. A $5 Walmart burlap/lace table runner
  3. 6 Texas Longhorns burnt orange plates from the Dollar Store–for, yes, $1 each.
  4. White $1 (Dollar Store) salad plates, Anthropologie (you guessed it, on MAJOR sale) polka dot napkins, and aqua mason jars from Walmart
  5. A container filled mason jars filled with $0.97 bunches of fake flowers from Walmart. #classy
  6. Some chalkboard pumpkins that I made at a pumpkin painting girls’ night + some clearance fake acorns from Target
  7. $0.87 Clearance place mats from Target
  8. Paint and Prose place cards + gold polka dot straws I had in my pantry


Honestly, I didn’t use one single thing that I didn’t already have for this table setting, and I had collected the various items you see over a long period of time. I’m a big proponent of using what you already have and investing in pieces (like that tablecloth) that make a big impact when you find them at a really great price.


Not too surprisingly, there’s a LOT of color on my table, but I like to balance things out with neutrals–like those black pumpkins (So easy! You just spray paint them with chalkboard paint–I recommend Rustoleum–and then go at them with a chalk pen) and the beige/white napkins.



I honestly don’t know beans about formal dining, so if you’re an expert, and you see things out of place, I’m not surprised. Fortunately, I don’t dine with people who know beans about formal stuff either, so they won’t care.


Mismatched cutlery?! Gasp! (P.S. Those cute napkins rings were $0.50 each from Kirkland’s a while back).


I like a lot of things about my table (duh; I chose them), but other than the pumpkins, my favorite have to be these cute little place cards that Lindsay and I designed for Paint and Prose. I’ll tell you more about them in a second.


Last year, for Christmas, the kids and I painted acorns and strung them in a garland. It was a lot of fun, and I still have them, but I wasn’t too sad when I found a box of faux acorns already painted gold for $3 at Target.


They may not be Thanksgiving colors, but I don’t think anyone could deny that they are happy ones!


So, what about you guys? Do you decorate your table specially for Thanksgiving? I don’t usually go all out like this, certainly, but our Sunday schedule got kind of muddled when my sweet new niece (remember Hannah’s maternity pics?) decided to make a very exciting, VERY FAST (Hannah was supposed to go to the hospital, but ended up having Eliyana on the bathroom floor, with my brother as her “attending physician!!”) debut into the world at 1:50ish in the morning. I was there from about 2:15 until 6, and the rest of Sunday was a blur, with naps at weird times, no church, and an entire afternoon that I could have spent either a) cleaning or b) playing dress-up with my table.

I guess you can see which one I chose.

But back to those place cards.

They have a super-cute little place setting of their own on the front…


And then…a big juicy turkey on the back.


Fun, yes?

I think so. And I hope you will too because they’ll be available in the Paint and Prose shop bright and early Monday morning. In FACT, you’ll be able to get a set of 6 for free if you order in the first 48 hours. But I’ll tell you more about that later.

P.S. Don’t forget that we’re giving away all 4 of our Christmas prints over on our Instagram AND Facebook page! Get yourself entered to win before we pick our lucky duck on Monday!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering where my children were during all of that table tweaking, the twins were down for naps, Simon and Della were alternately entertaining/annoying each other, and Ezra and Theo were just hanging out (when they weren’t hiding out under the tablecloth).


Goodness, I love these boys!

Introducing: Paint and Prose

Last week, I told you that I loved reading Ashley’s post about pursuing your passions while still fulfilling your calling as a mama. And I completely meant it. Not only because I love hearing the hearts of other mamas who grapple with the same issues that I do but also because I find myself in exactly the kind of situation that she was describing right now.

I have this passion that God has placed in my heart for encouraging/helping women in a creative way. But I know that my first priority is my family.

It’s why I haven’t written my book yet, even though I’ve wanted to for as long as I can remember. Okay, so technically, I did hammer out a 350+ page novel about 8 years ago. But that’s never getting published. And I still haven’t written the book that I feel like is simmering deep inside me, waiting to boil over from the keyboard onto my screen. The timing just isn’t right, nor does it seem very likely to be in the very near future.

Thus, the concept of a creative endeavor (in conjunction with this blog) that could be notched in between the busiest moments of my days was just a vague, “someday” kind of hope until one day, as one of my besties, Lindsay, and I were walking around the track at the gym, I had a sudden flash of inspiration.

I love words. She loves to draw/paint (and is soooooo ridiculously good at it). What if we somehow combined our passions and worked together to share the load of a company that would “create ARTiculate designs for the everyday girl?”

And no, I didn’t just whip out that tag line on our 8th lap around the track. That particular day, we just kicked the idea back and forth and both felt generally favorable. And when we parted ways, we promised to pray about it and, if we had a go, pursue it together.

That was about five months ago.

Since then, we’ve met lots of times to figure out: designs, our look, our words, what we want to do, what we DON’T want to do. I was going to say: ALL of it. But I know there’s still lots to untangle.

Either way, though, we are now the proud co-owners of a tiny little baby art print company called:

paint and prose logo3

Lindsay (Paint) and I (Prose) have been busting our tails to get our fun, funny, and inspiring art prints into your hands, and I am happy to be able to finally announce that, Lord willing (hey, I don’t even know if I’m going to wake up tomorrow), we will launch our first ever collection(s) of prints a week from today.


{Here we are, representin’ color–me, duh–and neutrals–her, cute!–which you’ll totally see in our designs as well}


It’s pretty stinking exciting, especially since my husband is super-supportive and has come on board as the very welcome “3rd wheel” of our little company in the capacity of handling all of the business and technological stuff. SUCH a relief!).

But it’s also a little scary. Like, what? Who am I to think that I can design anything that anybody will actually want to buy? (I have utter confidence that Lindsay can paint anything I/we do come up with).

The thing is, I think you will want to.

A couple of weekends ago, we holed up in a Dallas hotel and designed/created for hours straight. And then, we did it again the next day. Our husbands teased us that we were going to Dallas for a girls’ weekend and would end up taking naps and going to Anthropologie instead. But, as tempting as that was, we didn’t. And you know what? We had SO. MUCH. FUN!


I don’t remember the last time “work” felt so much like fun. Lindsay feels the same way. And I think that joy that we feel is reflected in the art we’ve created.

We’ve made these prints with a focus on playful, truthful, encouraging little bright spots you can scatter throughout your home. We want to speak to the reality of the everyday girl with lots of laundry and not enough time.


(Oh my goodness, y’all. I opened my laundry room door this morning and thought this exact thing…and closed it again).

And, because Lindsay is a trained artist with boatloads of natural talent + an art degree, you can know that you’re getting a really high quality product every single time.

But enough about the backstory. I’m guessing you’d like to see more of these prints of which I blather?

Oh, goody! Because I want to show you one. Or 4, actually. And then, I’ll need your help, m’kay?

This is our Christmas collection (so far). First up, we have:



I love how detailed this one is. From the pretty floral designs on the tea cup right down to the fact that the nutmeg on the Eggnog Latte is a different color from the cinnamon on the Cinnamon Dolce, we did our best to both realistically and artfully recreate every girl’s favorite Christmastime drink.


(Oh, and did you see the reindeer mug?? Hashtag I die…and then laugh at myself that I even wrote that)

Next up:



My favorite thing about this one (besides the fact that I think I have almost this exact entire outfit in my closet but never thought to put it all together until we made the print) is that–while sure, it references a “Christmas” song–it’s really more of a winter theme and would work great in any laundry room/closet/bedroom/mudroom/girly office space all season long!


And then there’s:



I’m going to call myself out as a hack when it comes to wordsmithing when I admit to you that I forget on a regular basis that that the word, “NOEL,” simply means Christmas. (My brain somehow immediately translates it to: “Peace.” But that doesn’t work so well with “The First Noel”).


I get a little swoony over the black/white/gold scheme and all of those stripes and curlicues!

And last but definitely not least (in fact, it’s both my and Lindsay’s favorite), we have:



I’m completely in love with the unexpected wine/teal/mint/chartreuse/gold of the flowers on the “Joy.” And it turned out even better than I hoped once Lindsay came up with the genius idea to repeat the gold/black/white stripes on “World.”

I can’t wait to hang this one in my house!


Do you have a favorite? Are you already imagining places they could go in your house or friends/family you could gift them to? We certainly hope so! (We may just get in a little cat fight over who gets to have which originals hanging in her home ;) ).

But, we’re not QUITE done.

We want to make one more Christmas print before we launch, and we’ve saved the best for last because we want to highlight the very Reason for the Season: Jesus Christ. In a slightly unexpected way.

We love, for example, “O, Come let us adore Him.” But it’s really common (not that Joy to the World or Noel aren’t).

And so, we’d loved to hear from you. What Jesus-themed phrase or song or verse would you love to see made into a print? You’re welcome to suggest images or themes to go along as well.

Also, did you have a favorite design so far? Obviously, we love Joy to the World, but, surprisingly, my husband was all about the outfit-themed Baby It’s Cold outside. I mean, I love it too, but ooookay, babe.

christmas collage

ALSO! If you’d like to see more of our creations (we have way more than Christmas stuff going on!) and fun behind-the-scenes shots, head on over and give us a follow on Instagram! We’re @paintandprose, and we’re doing a fun little giveaway of the entire Christmas Collection today, so scoot on over and get yourself entered!

(You can also go give us a like on Facebook! Just don’t be alarmed if there’s no one there yet. I LITERALLY just made our page).

OH, and set your alarm clocks bright and early for our launch on November 16! I’ll try to remember to do the same.

Pursuing Your Passions While Still Fulfilling Your Calling as a Mama

I write a lot about motherhood here. Duh. I’m a mama to 6. It’s the defining role of my life at the moment–the one in which I have invested the most “research” and prayer and interest and time and sweat equity (is puke equity a thing? That too).

Honestly, I look at  it less as a role and more as a calling. Maybe you’re not called to motherhood, for one reason or another.  Maybe you feel called to go to the Congo and share the gospel with the unreached or devote yourself to rescuing battered and lost women or any other myriad of ministries. That’s awesome. I just know that, regardless of anything else I add to it, since I do have half a dozen little souls to shepherd here in E. Texas, and that process takes up 90% of my waking hours, THIS is my primary mission field right now. (And if you’re in a similar situation, it’s yours too. Be encouraged in that).

But what about the other 10%? What about those moments when you feel that undeniable tug to: create, write, dance, sing, study, read, research, jump, run…WHATEVER!

Are those desires wrong? No! They are God-given talents that He has planted deep within your soul, and to deny them is to deny a part of what makes you uniquely His.

However. What you do with those desires? Practically? Well, that could go either way.

I’ve been really mulling over these ideas lately, and I’ll have more to share with you tomorrow, but for today, I wanted you to hear from another young mama.

Her name is Ashley, and she caught my attention when she commented on one of my Instagram posts, offering donkeys as a dowry for her daughter to marry Theo. That literally made me LOL (and I NEVER write that).

Ashley: I don’t necessarily recommend putting that one on your resume.

She even sent me an “audition photo” for Theo’s viewing pleasure.

ashleys little girl

Isn’t she precious???

Ashley shares one of my dearest dreams–to write/publish a book. Except she is interested in children’s books.

So, without further ado, I’ll let her tell you a little more about it herself…


I truly believe there is no greater calling than being a mom, but then again I am a little biased, since I get to spend my days with two adorable girls. I have no doubt that my job as a mother is an important one and that God is using me to impact my little ones’ lives and souls. Yet, among the dozen diaper changes, frequent night wakings, and super sassy toddler attitudes, I can’t help but wonder: Is there more?

God has given each of us amazing talents and passions, and when used correctly, they can advance his kingdom. So many times I feel guilty for daydreaming about writing books, especially when I haven’t been on top of laundry for the week or when I haven’t been finding joy in playing the same game over and over again with my three­-year­-old.

I know I am not alone.

The truth is that pursuing our passions alongside motherhood is not wrong. We can enjoy the fruits of our dreams as long as they fit inside God’s will and honor him. We can have that soul-satisfying desire met, while still putting God, our husband, and our children first.

Once I realized that I could achieve my passion for writing children’s books, I got to work. I wrote my book during one inspired night while pregnant with my second daughter. And then I went about trying to learn everything I could about Indie publishing. I even started interviewing illustrators.

sisters art

There was only one problem.

As a mom, life does not sit still and calmly wait while you work on your goals and projects. Somebody always needs something and something always needs to be done.

Our dreams are not going to magically come true overnight. God requires that we have
diligence and perseverance when we work on our dreams. I had to do these three things to actually make my dream of becoming a children’s book author a reality.

• Be Intentional: We don’t know how much time God grants us, so we must be intentional with every moment we have. That is definitely easier said than done. I have to be purposeful and have a quiet time in my Bible. I have to give my girls my full attention when it is their time instead of checking my phone. I have to be in the zone when it’s time to work on my book.

• Simplify: No one can do it all. It is just impossible. You have to decide what your top priorities are and say “no” to the rest. The problem arises when you try to dabble in a little bit of everything. By doing that, you stretch your time too thin for your truest passions and talents. Repeat after me, Mamas: it’s okay to just say no.

• Ask for Help and Take Time to Refuel: Taking a five­ day vacation with just my husband was one of the best things I could have done for myself, my marriage, and my writing. Look for opportunities to get away from the busyness of life, even if it is just for an hour or two a week. This is your one distraction­ free moment to concentrate on your passions. Taking this time is mandatory. Trust me, it makes a world of difference to how you feel and how you treat your family when you return to them.

sisters art1

Many of us are stuck in the I’m “just a mom” mentality. But the truth is that there is no such thing. If “all” you accomplish on this earth is loving God, loving your family, and loving others, then you have done well, good and faithful servant.

However, I encourage you not to let your mom title be the excuse that keeps you from pursuing that one thing that is burning a hole in your soul. Take some quiet time (i.e. those five precious minutes in a closed bathroom) and do some soul searching. What passions and dreams are buried down there?

Ask God what dreams he wants you to pursue and which ones can be used for his glory. Fulfilling those dreams doesn’t just happen overnight or by whim. Sometimes it takes a lot of work and a lot of faith, but carving out slivers of time to pursue them is worth it because you are not “just a mom” (anymore than you are “just a student” or “just a clerk”).

You are an amazing child of God who has been blessed with unique abilities and talents for his glory.


I loved reading about Ashley’s desire to put her family first while still fulfilling a God-given talent–especially since it will, no doubt, be a huge blessing to her little girls, knowing that their Mama wrote that book with them in mind.

If you’d like to read more about Ashley’s book and maybe even participate in bringing it to fruition, you can here. (Something else cool: for every book you buy, Ashley will donate 2 more to children in need).

The Hunt for the Perfect Ankle Boot

In the grand scheme of life, as long as you’ve got shoes on your feet, you’re good. I mean, lots of people don’t. Style doesn’t actually matter.

But since I’m a first-world girl with first-world problems, I have been known to get a wee bit fixated on finding the perfect fill-in-the-blank for the style I want.

Usually, it’s house stuff. Like a rug with a certain pattern + colors for the kitchen or a bedspread for the girls’ room.

And there’s always the budget consideration.

I want exactly what I want for a really low price.

And in this case (back to the shoe reference), what I want is a pair of simple, genuine leather cognac ankle boots. Preferably with no higher than a 1″ heel.

Like, the ultimate hipster boot, basically.

Which, I’m not even sure I can pull off with my not-exactly-hipster style and my short legs to long torso ratio (I do much better with a heel of at least 2″).

But back to the hunt for this so-called perfect ankle boot. I’ve put a lot of nursing-the-baby-while-browsing-my-phone internet miles into finding said boot, and I figured that it would just be selfish (not mention the loss of a great justification for all of that time wasted spent) not to share my findings with you.

So, without further ado, I give you a round-up of 8 of my favorite boots that I stumbled upon in my research.

Disclaimer: I mentioned the budget consideration for my very particularly quests for the illusive ____________. And I’ll get back to that. But this particular list is not really that budget friendly. Because, apparently, real leather ankle boots are expensive. Period. Especially while they’re in season. So, if you were expecting amazing finds for $30 or something, I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint. ankle boot

1/ 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

I’d certainly wear any of these boots (assuming they were, at least, marginally comfy), but my faves BY far are:

#3–the BP Trolley boot (which is shown in a maroon color because I couldn’t find a picture of the actual cognac that it comes in…but it’s gorgeous!)


#8 , which is the Kork-Ease Velma boot, and it comes in a rich brown leather like I want, but, for some reason, I’m really digging the grayish hue with the contrasting wooden heel.

So…did I actually pull the trigger on any of these?


But I did buy a pair of cognac leather ankle boots.

Wanna see?


Are they what I was looking for?


And no.

On the one hand, they’re real leather. And the color on the box says “cognac” (although in real life, it’s more of an–intentionally–scuffy true brown).

But it’s not the super-simple silhouette I wanted (I wasn’t interested in buckles or elastic goring), and the heel is 2 1/2″ rather than the ideal 1″ I was looking for.

So, why did I buy them? (I bet you can guess).

They were cheap. The style is Steve Madden Spunkk, and it’s only available on ebay (that I’ve found). And a lot of the ones I found were still close to $100, but then I found one pair in my size with an (easily fixable) “defect” for waaaaaay less…and I went for it.

Am I happy with them?


And no.

It’s complicated. :)

Have you found the perfect cognac leather ankle boot? (Because I’m so sure this is what everybody else is on the hunt for). If so, share!

Hannah’s Maternity Shoot for Baby #2

Do you remember about two and 1/2 years ago when I posted Shae’s and Hannah’s engagement pics? (That would be my bro and his wife, if you’re new-ish here).

Well, I must have done something right enough to earn a repeat (I strongly suspect the fact that I’m family and charge, well, nothing were the biggest factors, but I’ll happily delude myself that it was due to some merit) because I had the privilege of snapping some maternity shots for their super-cute family a couple of days ago.

And I say, “family,” because exactly 9 months to the day from their marriage date, Hannah gave birth to my cutie-pie niece, Halleli. #honeymoonbaby

And now, she’s expecting Halelli’s sure-to-be-equally-cute baby sister, Eliyana, any day. (Not that you’d be able to tell because she’s just the tiniest pregnant woman you ever did see).

Speaking of Halleli, I do believe that she has the baby smolder mastered.



She’s a thinker, this little girl, and it’s not that easy to wrangle a smile out of her (although Shaun has always been able to get one with almost zero effort; she has good taste), but when you look this good serious–really–what’s the point in wasting all of that effort smiling?

She’s awfully stinkin’ cute when she does smile, though (thank you, husband, for playing peekaboo like a fool behind me pretty much the whole time I snapped pictures).


Go ahead and feel disgusted that Hannah looks this good 39 weeks pregnant. I’m right there with you.


Oh, how I love tiny baby booties!


And sweet sisters.


If you’re not a professional photographer (raises hand high), I’ve got a tip for you: take your pictures in a peach orchard at sunset. Then, everybody will be too focused on all of the prettiness around to care whether the shot is perfectly clear. If the peach orchard belongs to your neighbor, and you can tramp over from your own property, all the better.



“Halleli, where is Eliyana?” Girlfriend knows what’s up. Or…down, in this case.



Happy girls are the prettiest!


I have to laugh at these pictures in our field, which looks a bit scrubby and unkempt until the evening sun is sparkling down on the each green blade of grass, and you plop a couple or three cute humans in the middle of it. Then, it’s all CHARMING! and PRETTY!


This one was a Pinterest recreation. I’m sure not going to show you the original for comparison, but I still think it turned out fun.


And this version was my idea. Because the husband kissing the belly is, like, the most original thing ev-ah, Abbie.

Either way, it’s pretty sweet in b+w too.


And this one, here, is pretty much modern day reality: daddy wrangling the toddler while mama looks up the pose she wants on Pinterest. How did we ever take family photos without it?


And just in case you’re sick of sun flare…


It was so much fun to take pictures of three of my favorite people in the world and made me even more excited to get to meet a fourth!


Hannah brought us dinner…because she’s super-thoughtful like that. And, since I had already decided before I started Whole30 that I would make exceptions for hospitality, I got to eat ravioli and cookies! Woo!

So, what do you think? Didn’t they they turn out cute? Sometimes, I start to get super-critical of my limited photog skills, but then, I remind myself that it’s not about the perfect bokeh or the just-right angle.

Hannah will always treasure these memories, captured when they were just three (on the outside anyway). And I will always treasure getting to be the one to capture them.