Mama Life Hacks {Tip #6}: Cute Complete Car Caddy

Really quick, the winner of our Rockin’ Baby sling is:

Melody, who is looking for a good baby-wearing option to use on their upcoming move to Germany.

Shoot me an email at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com, and I’ll get you hooked up with your new sling!

Two notes on the title of this post: 1) Trying saying it five times fast and 2) It could alternately be titled, “Don’t you wish you had a sister-in-law like me?” (You’ll see why in a sec).

So, I’m not exactly the best at keeping my car neat and tidy (I think I just heard my Mama say, “Amen,” and she lives 30 miles away).

Since we live in the country, we do lots of driving into “town,” and with six kids filling up literally every single seat in the back of our Odyssey, and the requisite s-t-u-f-f that travels with said 6 kids, my car fills up with junk fast.

I’m okay at reminding the kids to get stuff out of the back on their way out, but I’m not awesome at making myself do the same in the front, usually because we’re getting home at 7 PM, and I’m rushing to get kids out of the car and get inside to finish the dinner I prepped earlier in the day. (Excuses, excuses). Hashtag hypocrite.

Which is how I end up with a front seat that looks a little something like this:

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Purdy, no?

But here’s the deal, I kid you not when I say that every time I do a really thorough cleaning of my van, theverynextday, I regret taking something out. Either I cleared all the kids’ extra clothes out, and then, of course, somebody peed themselves, or I took all of  my hair paraphernalia inside and ended up teaching BODYCOMBAT with my hair in my face for want of a hair-tie.

It’s hardly an excuse for a constantly jacked up car, but it definitely begs a solution that leaves less chaos without completely clearing out my traveling arsenal of Mama supplies.

Enter this ingenious idea:

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That would be the complete cute car caddy of this post’s title, and I can call it ingenious because it wasn’t my idea.

It was my sister-in-law’s (yes, the same awesome chick who inspired this freezer meal baby shower Mama life hack).

She gave me that whole adorable set-up as part of my Christmas present. And the thought and detail and sheer sweat equity she invested into it kind of blow my mind. Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

I added the lint roller and the diapers, but everything else, including the idea to cover the entire thing in cute fabric and sew a matching bag to hold all the Walmart bags, was all hers!

And did I mention the matching trashcan?

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I know, right??

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering what’s in that “bag of awesome”…

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Napkins, hair bands, gum, ibuprofen, band-aids, tampon, SEWING KIT! Seriously, all I can do is stand back and clap.

Now, if you scroll back up to that embarrassingly messy car pic from above, then you’ll see that, even with my car caddy, I don’t always keep things ship-shape.

But it helps. Oh, yes it does.

It has saved my bacon on multiple occasions, shielding me from downpours, soothing a sudden, nasty headache, and being the saving grace (for me and whoever I breathe on) after a particularly–ahem–fragrant meal.

Plus, you can NEVER have too many Walmart bags in your car. I use them to bag stinky diapers, gather trash, divide up the kids snacks to take inside the gym, stash my sweaty gym clothes when I change, etc., etc. etc.

Anyhoo, I’m working on doing better about my car situation, which is why the front of my car currently looks like this:

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(And, no, I didn’t just clean it out to show you guys; although, you were good motivation to follow through on what I needed to do anyway)

I didn’t do anything drastic like–oh, I don’t know–vacuum it out or anything, but it’s certainly better than it was, and the only reason my awesome car caddy is not perched on the passenger seat is because I took it out to take a picture. (Believe me, it’s back now).

Now, who wants to be my accountability partner for keeping it this way?

What about you guys? Do you struggle to keep your car cleared out too? I’m always kind of flabbergasted at how quickly the junk builds back up after only a day or two after I clean it out. I shouldn’t be, considering that I literally sweep my kitchen three times a day and am well-acquainted with the fact that, when kids are involved, things deteriorate at an alarming rate.

What would you put in YOUR car caddy? Once I added my diapers, mine was pretty much perfect for me.

If you’re an impeccable car type, feel free to share your secrets. I’m guessing one of your tips might be taking more stuff out than you put in? ;)

Sorry, girls, but my sister-in-law is not available for rent. I need her freed up to have enough time to make more awesome things aaaaaallll for me. :)

Now I’ve done it…

I’m not a big fan of fad diets or anything too drastic in the food department. I realize that it works well for other people, but I’m more of an “everything in moderation” type.

But here’s the deal: right after I have a baby, I tend to be a leeeeetle too easy on myself, food-wise. In the first 3 weeks after, I allow myself whatever my heart desires. And usually my heart desires lots of pizza and chocolate.

Ahem.

Fast-forward to 3 1/2 months post-partum, and, while I’m definitely not indulging like I was in those first few weeks after Theo was born, I’m still eating more junk than my body is really terribly happy with at the moment. In addition to the 10ish pounds that are still hanging around on this here body of mine, I can definitely tell that my 32-year-old self is just not handling my daily dose of “a little something sweet” as well as the 29-year-old version of me.

Sigh.

Because my problem is not portion control. I mean, sure, I can overeat, but I’m much more likely to struggle with sugar than anything else.

So, when my friend Lindsay (you met her here) told me she was doing a “skinny cleanse,” I was intrigued. And when she told me what it was–10 days of “clean” eating in combo with various It Works supplements to help aid in the detoxing of the yucky stuff my system has been absorbing over the past several months–I was sold.

Now, before you get worried that I’m doing a “cleanse” while nursing, let me assure you that there’s lots of eating going on.

The emphasis is on good fats, lean proteins, and lots of veggies and fruit. I’ll be guzzling water, and, while I’ll use a few of the It Works supplements (most notably their “Greens,” which are great for adding in lots of nutrients that I’m not naturally getting from my food), my focus is on the dietary aspects of the cleanse.

I’m cutting out: dairy, sugar, simple carbs, processed foods, and anything to drink other than water. And it’s only for 10 days. I will, of course, be monitoring my milk supply and adjust as necessary if I feel like it’s being affected.

But, seriously, y’all?

This was my breakfast this morning.

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That would be farm-fresh eggs (my mama has chickens) scrambled with onions and tomatoes and topped with homemade salsa and avocado (with a side of strawberries and bananas, obviously). It. was. DELICIOUS.

Honestly, it was the best breakfast I’ve had in a while.

So, yeah. Not too sad about this clean eating business. One meal in, at least. ;)

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Mmmmmmm. I’m already looking forward to a repeat tomorrow.

So, what about you guys? Have you ever done a cleanse? Or a Whole 30? Or maybe you’re a clean eater 24/7? (You rock). I’m interested to see how this goes. I’ll keep you posted.

P.S. Don’t forget to get your name in the hat for our Rockin’ Baby sling giveaway! It ends tonight!

Mama Life Hacks {Tip #5}: Sam’s Club Pickup FOR THE WIN!

I think I’ve mentioned before here that, in my opinion, my greatest strength as a mother is my tenacity. My stick-with-it-ness. I’m not naturally super-creative or compassionate or patient or fun when it comes to this whole mothering gig…although I have better days than others, of course, in all of those categories, and I am continually striving–by God’s power–to grow in grace.

But, give me a certain kind of challenge, and, by golly, I will pounce on it, punch it in the face, and take it prisoner (most of the time).

(Now, who wants me to babysit their kids?)

Which means that grocery-shopping with 6 children–while far from my favorite activity ever (walking on hot coals and poking my own eyeball with a plastic fork come to mind as more appealing options offhand)–is something that I do regularly and am not afraid of.

I will even wrangle unsuspecting checkers into taking pictures of me and my motley crew.

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Theo–hiding out under the Ergobaby–was exactly one-month-old here. (Insert ALL the crying emojis as I realize just how fast time is flying). (Also, let it be known that we do NOT go to Sam’s Club for one gallon of milk plus a tin of peanuts for Nola to use as a seat; there was another stuffed-to-the-gills basket right behind me).

The thing is, though…give me the choice between A) dragging 6 small humans inside a giant store filled with food (most of which they want but can’t have–cue the 2-year-old meltdown parade) and B) having someone else grocery shop for me…

And I don’t have to think about it.

Not for one hot second.

All of my self-proclaimed tenacity and I-ain’t-skeered-of-grocery-shopping-with-six-kids bravado takes a flying leap out of the nearest window, and I’m all, “Where do I sign?”

*Sigh*
If only such a magical service existed.
Oh, but it does.
Say whaaaaat?
Did you know that you can go online at www.samsclub.com and click on “Services”>”Club pickup,” and then proceed to either use the “easy reorder” button (it tracks your purchases so that the items that you buy often are the first to pop up as options) or the “upload a list” button, and–BOOM–your grocery-shopping is done?
Once you select your items and choose the time you’d like them ready, some glorious little Sam’s Club grocery store fairy waves her silvery wand over the aisles, and–just like that–all of your grocery dreams comes true, packed neatly into a cart just waiting for you to pick it up.
Or something like that.
Regardless of whether fairies or gnomes or plain old Sam’s Club vest-wearing employees are responsible for the wonderfulness that occurs, occur it does. Which is all I care about.
Honestly, I’ve known this for a while now. But I’m a ridiculous creature of habit. So, I continued to haul all of my offspring up and down the aisles over and over for many months even once I had been gifted with this morsel of heavenly wisdom. Just because I plain forgot.
(Don’t be like me).
One day, a few weeks ago, as we were dumping our many, many items onto the belt, a Sam’s Club manager noticed my brood and said, “They’re really cute. But…you know we’ll shop for you, right?”
And, at first I was like, ????? And then, remembrance dawned, and I was like, “OOOOOOoooooh. YES!”
And then I gave her the biggest hug ever (no, I didn’t; but I thought about it).
So, there you have it. My Mama Life Hack this week is the wondrous knowledge that, if you have a Sam’s Club membership–you are now able to shop from the comfort of your own couch. At no extra charge. As Emperor Cuzco would say: “BOOM, baby!”
And, yes, I have actually done it now. And yes, it is just as easy and fantastic as it sounds.
Now, if only they would bring all the groceries out to me and swipe my card through the driver’s window of my van…
A girl can dream.
So, what about it? Did you know this magical service existed? Have you used it? Are there other such services at other stores that I’m unaware of? Do share.
Oh, and don’t forget to share your #mamalifehacks on social media using that handy hashtag. I’ve got several squirreled away to share with you soon, but I’m always on the lookout for more to feature!

I’m rockin’ my Rockin’ Baby Sling {Review and GIVEAWAY for YOU!}

Okay, first of all, let it be known that you guys are THEE best.

I got 475 opinions here on the blog and social media in response to my request for your input about my new glasses. And, while I’m still plowing through them all in search of a consensus, I’m just blown away at how sweet y’all are to take the time to share your thoughts with me about silly things like which frames best fit my face shape. I know I’ll never get to meet most of you, but I still feel like I get to pull up a chair and chat with a bunch of rad girlfriends several times a week. And, let me tell you, you can’t beat that with a rubber-spatula-cum-spanker (click if you want a laugh plus a priceless picture of Evy).

And now onto today’s business…

I’m not the world’s biggest baby-wearer at home. And I’m not talking about my physical stature either. I just don’t do it a ton.

Mostly, that’s because a) my babies tends to be of the non-fussy variety (please don’t e-stone me) and are usually pretty content to be in their swings or bumbo seats near me while I cook/homeschool/blog/whatever and b) I have a lot of helping hands. (I remember wearing Ezra, my firstborn, in his Baby Bjorn throughout many a meal prep, so I’d say the helping hands bit has been the biggest factor in my not baby-wearing at home that much of late)). I mean, seriously, I turned around in the middle of getting dinner ready last night to see Simon changing Theo’s poopy diaper without being asked.

(And then I belted the Hallelujah chorus along with the angel choir that descended through my kitchen ceiling).

But I am so, SO grateful for the ability to wear my babies when they do get cranky or when I’m out and about or if I just feel like snuggling my baby close, hands-free. So, when Rockin’ Baby contacted me about taking one of their slings for a spin AND giving one away to you lovely folks, you better believe I jumped on that one like a duck on a June bug. (Or, I should say, like my 7-year-old on a June bug; he’d beat out a duck any day).

I had never tried a ring-sling before, so I was excited to test something new.

Turns out, me likey.

It took a bit of maneuvering to get the ring to adjust easily at first, but the kind folks at Rockin’ Baby had warned me that there was a bit of a learning curve and that once I had the hang of it, I’d love it.

They were right.

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After the initial test, in which I did a lot of shifting and attempts at tightening–only semi-successfully–I tried again the next day and found the process at least twice as simple/intuitive. And every time since, it’s gotten easier and easier to simply slip Theo down inside the pouch and then cinch him up nice and cozy to my chest.

As far as his opinion on the arrangement.

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He’s a huge fan. He loves being snuggled up close to me and will happily ride around in the sling while I meal-prep or do chores for as long as I’m willing/able to carry him.

I have yet to find a single carrier that doesn’t produce a burning ice-pick point of pain in my upper right shoulder after about 45 minutes of wear–no matter what its claims for ergonomic correctness or superior weight distribution.

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And I’ll be honest–the Rockin’ Baby sling is no exception…although I can carry Theo in it longer than usual without the burning sensation, and it never reaches the heights it does with some other carriers.

But let’s face it: that has pretty much everything to do with the fact that I need to go see a chiropractor and nothing to do with the carriers themselves.

In fact, this sling is so comfortable that I’ve found myself reaching for it more and more recently, even when Theo didn’t necessarily “need” to be carried.

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I chose the “You Win Again” reversible sling, and I can honestly say, without reservation, that I was extremely impressed with the sturdiness of the stitching and the quality of the fabric. Not only impressed but surprised. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, since clearly, I would want a product that held my baby to be well-made and durable, but this sling exceeded even my highest expectations.

I also love that, since Theo is so happy in it, he often slides off into dreamland for a snooze while I’m carrying him. I can then loosen the sling super-easily, which allows me to lay him down still sleeping if necessary.

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And you know what else I love? The fact that, for every sling or pouch purchased from Rockin’ Baby, they donate another to a needy mother in Kenya or Haiti and educate her about the importance of its use.

Plus, on a much more frivolous note, Rockin’ Baby has so many fun prints that I had to do a FB poll just to help me decide which one I should choose!

SO!

The best part of all is that I’m not that only who gets to benefit from Rockin’ Baby’s generosity. Not only did they provide a sling for me to review, but they’re also giving one away to one of you lucky ducks.

To be entered to win, simply a) comment with a time when baby-wearing saved your bacon (mine would definitely be that time I carried Ezra all over New York City for 9 straight hours; not sure my shoulders have ever been the same, but it sure was convenient!), or, if you’ve never used a baby-carrier,  b) tell me about why you want to start now.

For extra entries, you can like the Rockin’ Baby Facebook Page or share about this giveaway via any form of social media (just be sure to leave me a comment telling me where you shared).

*Entries only open to residents of U.S. and Canada. Giveaway closes Monday, April 20 at 11:59 PM.

In which you help me choose glasses…(again)

This post could also quite easily be titled, “In Which Abbie Practices Her Pursed-Lips-Smile.” But my propensity for smizing is not exactly the main point of this post, so we’ll just stick with the original title, m’kay?

So, 3 years ago, you guys weighed in on which glasses I should buy, using uber-nifty virtual try-on images as your guide.

Well.

I did end up buying glasses–one pair, in particular, that I loved and wore all the time. Until a certain precious 18-month-old who shall remain unnamed (but whose name is identical to the abbreviation for a famous city in Louisiana) snapped the ear-piece of said beloved glasses.

Hashtag bummer. I do have another pair, but they pinch my nose (and can’t be adjusted) to the point of headaches. So, suffice it to say that I’ve been wearing my contacts pretty much non-stop for about a year now (because I am a rather blind little bat), and my 32-year-old eyes are tired.

Fast-forward to a week ago when I discovered that world of online glasses shopping has advanced at leaps and bounds to the point that some companies will now send you multiple pairs of frames to try on in person before you decide to buy (with free shipping both directions).

GENIUS!

So, I ordered up a grand total of 11 pairs from two different companies, and today I’m showing you the top 4 contenders (all from Warby Parker…not a sponsored post; just thought I’d share).

But, of course, I couldn’t just make a decision. OH no. I had to consult you, my lovely blog-friends.

So, I’m guessing you’ve already figured out how this is going to go.

I’m going to show you the 4 options, and then, you’re going to comment away telling me which one I should choose (and why, if you’re feeling particularly verbose).

Thanks in advance for your help!

Here we go!

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{Clearly, I have a thing for tortoise-shell-hued plastic frames, so don’t feel bad if you end up feeling a bit like, “Well, Abbie, 3 of those are the same.” What can I say? At least I’m consistent?}

Mama Life Hacks {Tip #4}: Post-it Notes to Stop Potty Flushes

I honestly have no clue what kind of hits I’m going to get on this post based on random Google searches that correlate with my title results. But I bet I’d get a kick out of them if I bothered to look.

But here’s the deal: even though there’s no NOT ridiculous way to title this particular Mama Life Hack, it’s a legit concern, yo, so we’re going with it!

Last week, I posted this picture to Instagram…

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…with a caption thanking Hobby Lobby for having old-school potties–AKA – the ones that don’t flush at random and literally scare the–ahem–you-know-what right out of you, while you’re sitting on them.

As an adult, I’m not a fan of them. But my little girls? They’re T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D.

And with the twins pretty much completely potty-trained at 2 1/2 (my earliest successful potty-trainees to date…HUZZAH for peer pressure), I have no interest in introducing anything that might trigger a regression (never mind that they decided to potty-train 1 day after I bought my first mountain of Sam’s Club size 4 diapers in ages. Because irony). (Not that I’m too worried about it at the rate Theo’s growing).

It seems that I’m not the only one with this problem. I got a slew of “AMENS” and also a fair number of suggestions for how to stop the potty monster from roaring while your little darling is astride her perilous perch.

The best one?

Stick a pad of Post-it notes in your purse, and every time you encounter a self-flushing potty, whip one of those bad boys out and place it over the flush-sensor.

Et voila!

no more scary flushes

{Side note: my husband saw this post-it lying around after I took the picture, and was like ?????}

If you’re anything like me, then remembering to put the Post-its in your purse in the first place is your biggest obstacle to executing this ingenious little trick. But never fear! If you forget the first time (or dozen), lots of people reported success with simply hanging a square of toilet paper over the sensor or–in a pinch–employing the somewhat less reliable sister/brother’s hand method.

So, what about y’all? Do you have a kiddo who is/was petrified by the curse of the auto-flush potty? I don’t know of too many kids who love it, but Della is definitely the most afraid of our bunch. Recently, an unfortunately-timed flush sent her flying off the potty mid-pee shrieking in terror. Poor thing (poor mama).

Did you use the Post-it trick? Or just suffer through like I’ve been doing?

 

 

The most perfect gift

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you guys had an awesome Easter full of candy and visits with the Easter bunny and egg-dyeing and egg-hunts and baskets brimming with cheapies from the Target Dollar Spot…oh, and Peeps! Can’t forget those little fellas.

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{6 out of 8 looking ain’t bad}

I hope you’re still riding your Reese’s sugar high and finding 27 amazing ways to repurpose plastic eggs on Pinterest. I hope…

Waaaaaait a minute.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, then you may be feeling a bit punk’d right now. Like I’m trying to pull another April Fool’s fast one on you (oh, and just in case I played it a little TOO cool with that whole blonde hair business, and you’re still not entirely sure what happened…it was 100% a joke. Thanks to my husband’s photoshop skillz).

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I mean, I’m guessing you expected me to be all: “Hope you guys fully experienced the sorrow and then the joy of remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection. HE IS RISEN!”

More on that in a minute.

But first, let me share something super-rad: we get to meet Harriet this weekend!

Who?

If you recall, our family has sponsored Harriet through an amazing organization called Parental Care Ministries that is local to us and with whom we’ve been involved–through sponsorship, prayer, volunteering, etc.–for over 6 years now. We even sponsored another PCM child–Sarah–for a year through this blog (and then our family took over her sponsorship). We EVEN raised enough money the first year I ever had this little blog to build a new classroom for PCM! Y’all blew my mind with your generosity and support!

Well.

After witnessing and loving what this ministry has done to invest in the lives of over 1,000 incredibly deserving children in Uganda, we get the privilege of hosting Harriet and another PCM girl for a few days as they are here for the 3rd annual PCM choir tour.

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Last week, we met with the tour coordinator so she could brief us on what to expect and how best to bless Harriet and Gaudy, and, at one point, she leveled her gaze at us and said, “I know this is probably something you’ll want to do, but we’re asking that you refrain from buying the girls any gifts.”

That answered a question that I hadn’t even voiced yet, but, as disappointed as I was (I’d had visions of taking the girls to get outfitted in new everything–complete with peppy background music a la every single “makeover montage” in every single teeny-bopper movie ever made), I understood.

Because here’s the thing–life in Uganda is hard. Not as in: I only get a piece of candy and a pair of cast-off shoes for my birthday hard.

But as in: I eat the same bland, watery gruel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I’m not even sure when my birthday is and would never dream of getting any presents for it if I did…hard.

I only eat meat once a year…hard. I walk 5 miles one way for clean water…hard. 

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Lori (the trip-coordinator) told us that if you ask the PCM kids what they are most thankful for, most will answer simply: “I’m grateful to be alive.”

And not in the sense of being filled with vigor and exciting prospects but in the not dead kind of way.

Because the specter of death looms very large in their lives from an early age. And tasteless gruel topped with beans 24/7/365 is infinitely preferable to a belly distended with starvation.

Lori emphasized that they weren’t expecting anything from us–were happy simply to get to know us and be included in our daily doings–and that material gifts, however needed or deserved, would cheapen and sully the pure joy they felt in sharing life with us.

They were content with “enough” (oh, what a slippery word we have made it) and would not benefit from being “blessed” with a recipe for discontent upon returning to their humble, simple everyday blessings.

When we asked Lori if there were an activity they would particularly enjoy, she said, “Any time you’re praising Jesus together will be their favorite.”

Y’all.

It was like an ice-pick to my heart.

I’ve had enough contact with these precious children to know that they absolutely radiate love for Jesus with a side of pure, unadulterated joy.

But to be reminded of how He is their everything–because they are completely free from the distractions that all of our “stuff” drags in with it–was more than convicting. It felt like a physical blow.

You see, I had seen pictures of cute little Easter baskets brimming with “stuff” popping up all over Instagram, and I’d been so, so tempted to run to the Dollar Store or Target and fill up a basket for each of my kiddos. So I could witness that shine of joy that new toys and treats always produce (at least temporarily). So I could feel like a super-mom. So I could “bless” my children.

But after talking to Lori, that desire vanished.

And not because Easter baskets are inherently evil or if you did that (or any of the other things in the first paragraph of this post), you’re a bad person/Christian.

But because I, too, want Jesus to be my everything–to be honestly, truly, fully thankful that I’m alive. That He has sustained me. That He is (so much more than) enough. I long for that for my children as well.

Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Clearly, the problem is not with the gift-giving. That is simply a reflection of a trait our heavenly Father has perfected. But the rub comes in defining the word, “good.”

After being reminded of the simple gratitude and reliance on Jesus that my PCM brothers and sisters in Christ have cultivated, it was plain to me that a basketful of cheap goodies was not going to be “good” for my children. That it would, in fact, detract from their (and my) already distracted focus on what Easter offers us: the chance to remember the precious sacrifice that Jesus made for us and the wonder of the fact that the grave could not contain Him.

Harriet and her friends understand, so much better than I–with my petty complaints about insufficient hot water and my discarded pizza crusts–that  “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

They grasp, better than any of us who live in the self-indulgent world of drive-thru restaurants, Bath and Bodyworks shower gel, and the “need” to change our clothes with each season’s new trend, that the most perfect gift of all can be a plate full of warm food–no matter how bland–and a thankful heart.

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Oh, that I would grasp even 1/10 of the same.

{Clearly, as you might be able to tell from these pictures, we didn’t completely forego all-things-egg; we attended our neighbor’s annual Easter egg hunt after church on Sunday–see last year’s recap here–and the kids had so. much. fun. Our neighbors are precious and ridiculously generous, and it is always a privilege to share this fun tradition with them}

Keep Collective

Well, after all your feedback on yesterday’s post, I really felt like the blonde wasn’t the best representation of me. Good thing my stylist had YET ANOTHER last minute cancellation and could get me in to literally take me back to my roots in no time flat.

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She did quite the color-matching job to the original, huh? ;)

ANYhoo, enough about my hair. Let’s talk about my bracelet instead, K?

Um, bracelet, Abbie?

Oh, hey, this one.

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When Amanda, a designer with Keep Collective, contacted me about choosing a custom piece, I had so much fun toodling around the site and deciding what I wanted my jewelry to “say.”

If you’re not familiar with Keep Collective, they’re a really fun company that lets you customize necklaces, watches, and–my favorite–bracelets to include all kinds of charms, stones, letters, numbers…anything that might be meaningful enough to you to wear on your body.

I’m not a big charm bracelet kind of girl. But I do love me some leather. And I might have mentioned that I love my husband once or twice on this here blog. And I have, in fact, combined those two loves once before–about 11 years ago in Italy on a trip my mom and I took together before Shaun and I were married. I stumbled upon this little booth that let you write whatever you wanted on a leather bracelet with a soldering iron.

And this is what I wrote.

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11 years later, it’s truer than ever, so I figured it was time for a more grown-up of version of my leather love declaration.

So, I chose the initials of our nicknames, this pretty green quartz stone, and a little plaque with the words, “birds of a feather”–all displayed on a reversible, double-wrapped genuine leather band.

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I didn’t quite know how my choices would turn out.

But when my bracelet came in the mail, and I opened the box, I squealed a little. It was even better in person than it had looked online and turned out exactly like I hoped it would. Shaun even commented on how cool he thought it was. (And when your husband notices your jewelry, you know you have a winner). I’ve worn it on date nights and to church so far, and I love the bit of shimmer it adds without being over-the-top. But mostly, I love what it says. In fact, it just occurred to me that both my old and my new bracelet would pair really well together. Double the schmoopiness! Score!

Edit: I liked this idea so much, that I did double up on my bracelets today on a round of running errands. Can I just say that I highly recommend wearing something that literally declares your love for your husband in words right there on your wrist as a constant reminder?

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Honestly, as much fun as I had designing my own, I can also think of pieces that I would get a kick out of making for people I know. Especially with Mother’s Day and graduations looming (how, oh, how are we that far along in the year already?). How fun would be to give Mom or your favorite high school grad something pretty and meaningful with important birthstones or her favorite quote?

If you’re interested in creating a piece of your own, be sure to contact Amanda. She was really fun/easy to work with, and I know she’d love to hear from you.

What about you guys? Do you have a particularly meaningful piece of jewelry that goes way back? I’m not a very sentimental person, but if I have anything to say about it, both of my leather love bracelets are staying with me for the long haul.

Welp, I got the itch…

Okay, so you know how I mentioned on Monday that the next time I got the itch to do something different with my hair, I might go blonde.

Weeeeelll…

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The idea just kept, ahem, growing on me, and when I texted my hairstylist on a whim, and she had a cancellation, I took it as a sign.

2 hours + I’m pretty sure like a gallon of bleach later…I’m a BLONDE! (I think those caps are deserved; it’s really bright….and quite a bit brassier than I was expecting, but Hollie said that can happen when you go from really dark to really light and that we can do something to fix it if it doesn’t calm down on its own…I believe she said something about toners?).

I honestly don’t know what I think about it yet. It feels (and looks) a little bit like straw, and I definitely feel like it’s going to be a bit before I can style it like I’m used to. BUT. It’s something different.

And sometimes, that’s really all you need. Ya feel me?

More pics to come when I feel a little more “me” again.

I just thought I’d let you know that I got a “wild hair” (there she goes again with the puns) or 100,000.

So, what do you think? Worth the risk? Too much? Be gentle, please! :)

Making the Cut

I don’t know why I’m so drawn to corny puns in titles, but…I am. My apologies.

But before we get to the subject of my titular corniness…

leigh anne

You are the winner of our Jamberry goodies from last week’s giveaway! I’m not gonna lie. I got really excited when I saw her name pop up as the winner. Leigh Anne is one of my most faithful reader-friends since almost the very beginning of this here little blog, a mama to four littles, and SUCH a sweetheart. We live in the same state but still about 10 hours apart (sigh…Texas), but she has family near me, and I am determined that we get together for a coffee (hot chocolate for me) date the next time she comes for a visit. (You hear that, Leigh Anne??). Anyhoo, she totally deserves a pampering treat, so I’m glad she won!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

About a week and 1/2 ago, I got my first haircut in, oh, 5 months. When my hair was long, I would often go 8-10 months without even a trim, but since whacking it off about 18 months ago, 2-3 months is the longest I’d made it between cuts. But with holiday craziness and Theo’s birth, I just hadn’t made it back for quite a while, and things were getting a bit, um, hairy (oy, with the bad jokes, already, Abbie!).

Here was the situation before my trim.

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Scraggly ends. Poofy on top because it hadn’t been thinned out in forever. Grown-out, limp bangs.

Definitely in need of a tune-up.

I’ve decided to grow out my hair, and with the help the It Works Hair Skin and Nails I’ve been taking, it’s coming along, so I didn’t want to take any length off. Just some weight.

Then again, I did feel like a change.

So, after a fair bit of trimming and a liberal use of thinning shears, there was a nice little mountain of fuzzies on the ground.

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It’s hard to have the right perspective just from the photo, but that is a LOT of hair. Which is kind of nuts considering that I lost almost no length.

So, what was this change that I wanted?

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BANGS!

This picture makes me laugh. I kept joking with my friend/hairstylist, Hollie, that I needed to caption this one: “I asked her to do this to me.”

I mean, seriously, that right there is the perfect combo of poodle + “Working Girl” hair.

At-trac-tive.

But less than 24 hours later, after a good wash and a bit of tweaking, it had calmed down a fair bit.

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And then, after yet a few more days for it to completely come of out shock and the first time I actually styled it like I normally would (plus bangs-straightening, of course…follow that link to see all of the products I use), we had this.

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Because I know you were dying to see not one but four of my goofy expressions. But Ezra was my photographer, and he was really proud of his work (which I promised I would show off adequately here).

Of course, those are mildly blurry phone shots, but he did manage this crystal-clear “real camera” shot too.

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This one too. I look ridiculously smug. But it does show you a bit of the side-view.

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ANYhoo, you may now consider yourself fully updated on my most recent follicular adventures.

I honestly miss my super-easy, funky, short hair, but at least I have the bangs to satisfy my urge for something different every once in a while. Who knows? Maybe next time I get the itch, I’ll go blonde!

Anybody else changed up their hair recently? I wanna see!

What’s the most drastic thing you’ve ever done to your hair? Mine would probably have to be that time I cut mine down to 2 inches or less all over my head (not Shaun’s favorite). (Although…that bowl-cut when I was 8, while not “drastic,” was definitely “dreadful”).