Since you asked…

There are a handful questions that I get asked on an ongoing basis, which, as I mentioned, is how Wednesday’s Day in the Life post came to fruition.

Thank y’all, by the way, for your super-sweet, supportive, solidarity-sister responses to that post. Any time you let people in that fully to your daily life, there’s at least a chance that folks are thinking less about what works for you and more about what they might do differently.

But if y’all were thinking that, you didn’t let on, and I’m just so grateful that you would take the time out of your day to let me know that my telling you about our day was helpful or encouraging in any way. I am always a little in awe that God can use me in that way at all, and it’s pretty much the best compliment I can get here on the blog.

ANYhoo, in the comments of that post, I got several repeat questions that I’ve run into before on social media and emails , etc. so I thought I might write a dedicated post to answer them in case anybody else was wondering too.




How do you find time to exercise consistently? Where are your kids while you’re doing it? How often do you exercise a week?


If you’ve read my blog for a long time, then you know that I’m an exercise instructor (have been for over 7 years now), which means that exercising is my side job. Yes, I get paid for it. And I definitely think that I’m more consistent because, well, if I don’t show, that’s a problem, right? But I do not love to exercise because I’m an instructor. I am an instructor because I love to exercise. So, it just made sense to meld the passion and the position, if that makes sense.

That said, I don’t have a lot of room for extras in my life, period, so I have pretty much whittled my teaching down to the two classes that I love the most (I used to teach everything from Hip Hop to yoga to free-style step), which are BODYPUMP and BODYCOMBAT. As much as I would love to branch out more and do different/fun/challenging forms of fitness, these are my bread and butter and work well for my full life right now.

When I’m teaching or taking a class, my kids are in the gym daycare. They don’t mind going (some days they’re actually excited; some days, they’re like, “Aw, the gym again?”). It’s a chance for socialization with other kids. And I’m pleased with both the staff and the facilities.

I clock an average of 5-8 hours a week at the gym and am there 3-5 days (5 is very unusual and probably means that I had to sub someone’s class). You’ll pretty much always find me there Monday-Wednesday afternoons when I teach or am already in town for piano lessons, and anything after that, I play by ear.


What homeschool curriculum do you use?


I had planned to write a dedicated post on this some day, and I probably still will, but I am getting asked this so often lately that I figured I would just throw the sources out there and then go more in depth at a later date.

There wasn’t one prepackaged box curriculum that I felt completely sold on (I’ve gone that route in the past and just didn’t end up using a lot of it), so I hand-picked our subjects this time around, based on recommendations, research, and reviews. And I have to say that I’m pleased with how things are turning out.

Below is the list of resources for what we use:

Horizons Math

First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind

Apologia Science (supplemented by these awesome Christian Liberty Nature Readers)

Bob Jones Reading

Sylvan Workbooks

The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child (we use the audiobooks)

Route 66: A Trip Through the 6 Books of the Bible

We also do Spanish (which I am teaching them using a variety of resources that are too numerous and random to list)

I make their spelling lists each week using this site, and we quiz each Friday.

We don’t have a specific handwriting program (although I’m totally open to suggestions), but we do practice with copy-work for things like poems and their weekly Bible memorization verse (I use to print out customized, traceable, lined practice sheets).

I’m sure there is more we can/will work in in the future, but for now, this list + lots of independent reading (they’ve both recently plowed through several abridged versions of classics like Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Last of the Mohicans, and Tale of Two Cities) keep us hopping!


WHERE are you putting Baby #6 in your vehicle?? What kind of vehicle do you drive?


We drive a 2007 Honda Odyssey. It’s certainly nothing super fancy, but I L-O-V-E it (um, hello, remote controlled sliding doors!!!) and am not giving it up until we can’t fit one more soul inside (legally, of course). So, at this point, we are planning to do some creative arranging of kiddos to fill every single last seat in the back and see how it goes.

Yes, it will be a tight fit, especially with so many car seats. But we think we can make it work. Plus, we’re all pretty used to being up in each others’ grills and having no personal space, so what’s a little more togetherness, right?

The only thing I’m worried about at this point is the epic throw-down the kids are going to have about who gets to sit next to their new baby brother!


And that’s a wrap!

If you have more questions for me (I have this niggling feeling that I’ve forgotten one of the most obvious ones, but I’m not coming up with it at the moment), ask away!

Chances are that others have them too, and I’ll be happy to answer them in a later Q&A round-up post.

Just to get the ball rolling, the most common topics of curiosity seem to be:

Why do you have so many kids? (I’ve already got a post 95% written about this.  You’ll see it soon.)

More homeschooling

Babies and child-birthing in general


Balancing “it all”

If none of those are your cup of tea, feel free to ask anything else, and I’ll do my best to quench your thirst for knowledge. :)




A Day in the Life of a Homeschooling Mama of 5

I warned you on Monday that I would be writing about the minutiae of our lives soon (I think I called it “mundane;” don’t hire me to write your book blurbs).

And, after having a version of this post written in my head for a good 6 months, today’s the day!

But before you go wondering why I’m subjecting you to a rundown of our daily grind, let me assure you that you asked for this. Okay, maybe not you, specifically. But quite a few of you have expressed interest over the past 3-ish years of my blog’s existence in knowing just exactly what we do all day long over here.

And, while part of me thinks, “Expect to fall asleep…fast,” another part of me gets it. As much as I don’t feel like we lead the kind of life that anybody would be truly interested in reading about, I am always fascinated by glimpses into other people’s ordinary days.

So! Now that I feel like I’ve adequately warned you about the possibility of your taking a spontaneous nap at some point during this post, without further ado, I give you:


(Oh, and while I’m into disclaimers, let me warn you that this is a very picture-heavy post, and I snapped all of these pictures on my phone, some in very poor lighting, so please excuse the not-so-great quality).

Before I got pregnant with #6, I rarely woke up later than 6:30 AM, but over the summer, I got into the habit of sleeping in as late as possible. Which usually meant 7:30. Holy cow that habit has been hard to beat!

By the time school started, I had bumped it back to 7, but my body was still craving more sleep most days. Fortunately, daylight savings has helped me get back on track with getting up early.

On the morning I took all of these pics (3 weeks ago), I was so excited to be up early in the crisp, cool quiet of dawn, all alone with my devotional and my ho-cho.


Sadly, my children were equally inspired to early rising by the time change, and a whopping 7 minutes later, my silent reverie had been broken by the clinking of metal cars and lots of imitation vrooming and–best of all–brakes squealing.


Within 10 minutes, the whole crew was up and at ‘em, so we went ahead and got started with our day.


Clockwise, we have Ezra shoving some leftover waffles in the oven, the boys doing part of their “morning routine” (unload dishwasher, make beds, brush teeth), and Nola being super-jazzed about the prospect of waffles with maple syrup and whipped cream on a Tuesday morning (we usually have eggs, so this was worthy of celebration).

After breakfast, we do family Bible reading. Shaun’s been gone on weekdays for the last several weeks, but when he’s available, all the kids sprawl out in various poses around the living room and listen as he reads (we’re working our way through the Proverbs, the Psalms, and Job). When he’s gone, I fill in.


After Bible reading, the boys get started on their independent schoolwork.


By “independent,” I mean that this part of their school is mostly workbook based, but obviously, they’re in and out with questions and needing help/explanations on a regular basis.

Although they start upstairs at their table, they usually end up migrating throughout the house depending on what subject they’re working on, where I am, how much help they need, whether their little sisters are bothering them more than usual, etc.

I don’t worry too much about their nomadic ways…unless we’re specifically working on handwriting, in which case, they’re required to sit still at a table.  The fluidity of the location seems to help the boys focus, since having to sit in the exact same spot tends to make them cranky and desperate to do anything but what they’re working on (and, yes, I learned that the hard way).

While the boys are doing school, the girls are doing this:


That would be: eating (boy, does it seem like snack time comes right on the heels of breakfast), reading books, bouncing on the guestroom bed, unrolling toilet paper, bickering over toys, and just generally making messes so that, by the time the twins go down for naps around 11 AM, the living room looks like this.


{The twins, who are 2, are learning to clean up after themselves, but honestly, at this point, it’s more trouble than it’s worth when they’re tired, and–let’s face it–their nap time can’t come soon enough for Mama either; they usually do more picking up in the evenings when everybody’s pitching in at once}

The kitchen usually looks a little better than the living room at this point because, between getting snacks for the girls, changing diapers, reading to them, and answering the boys’ math questions, I’ve been loading the dishwasher, wiping down counters, and sweeping. Key word: usually. Some days (like today as I write this post)–well, you could turn that camera around toward the kitchen, and it would look like Zombie Acopalypse: The Breakfast Edition.

After the twins go down for naps, Della and I start picking up the living room and work on a little bit of school . dayinthelifecollage4

{Ignore the part where it says we’re doing this at midnight; I promise I know the difference between AM and PM}

Della will be 4 on Friday, which means she’s still pretty little to be doing too much in either the chore department or the school department, but she’s (usually) a cheerful helper and loves to learn, so we spend this time working on letters and numbers and little tasks like putting toys away, assisted sweeping, and taking things back upstairs where they belong.


Most days, the boys are done with their book-work by lunchtime, but we must have been moving slow this time around. Hence, the open workbook next to my (not terribly appetizing-looking) lunch.

After lunch, Della goes down for a nap, and the boys (quietly) practice piano downstairs.


{How do you like my piles of laundry + wonky lampshades? Hey, this is real life, baby!}

After piano practice, the boys and I do schoolwork together (grammar and literature, Spanish, science, etc.) and chores.


On this particular day, when we had to hustle to piano practice at 3:00, we combined the two, with the boys vacuuming, mopping, and folding, as I reviewed their Spanish verb conjugations and taught them about English linking verbs. Usually, we have a more dedicated time to sit together so we can focus, but sometimes, you gotta git ‘er done.

As soon as we finish chores, there’s a mad dash to drag all the sisters out of bed, get snacks ready for the car, and get everyone strapped in to go (I try to have the girls dressed already so all we have to do is change diapers and slap shoes on).


{Clearly, sometimes, we just bring the shoes with us and worry about them later. Also, clearly, I meant it about dragging the girls out of bed. They all look borderline comatose}.

Side note: since this was piano practice day, everything was a bit crazier than usual, but our normal afternoon consists of rest/play/reading time for the boys while the girls nap. I usually hide in my room for 45 minutes to recover my wits, try to answer emails, and get a few things done, and then we head to the gym around 4.

While the boys are at piano practice, the girls and I run errands.


{Our stops that day were Walmart and Hobby Lobby}

After we pick the boys up from piano, we head to the gym, and I either teach or take a class while the kids are in the gym’s daycare.


{That’s my 33 week pregnant belly before baby boy flipped from breach to head down. I think my belly looks considerably more pronounced since that development}

On this particular day, we had soccer practice for the boys, so we picked up dinner at Chick-fil-a and headed to the practice field.

Again, this is different than our usual daily routine, since I cook dinner on average 5-6 times a week, and we usually don’t have yet another thing to go to after the gym.

At soccer, the girls act cute on the playground while the boys practice.


And sometimes, we thank the Lord for his mercy in allowing the elementary school whose practice field you’re using to host their Halloween party on the very night that the 3-year-old decides that she MUST go potty that very moment (which means that the doors are open and the school bathrooms are too, thus preventing your having to load 3 little girls into the van just to take them to the Dairy Queen restroom).

After practice, we head home and start the nighttime mambo. dayinthelifecollage7

Again, usually this would involve all of us eating something that I had prepped earlier in the day/week around the kitchen island (it’s crowded, but it’s such a habit at this point that I don’t know how we’re ever going to be able to make ourselves eat anywhere else).

But this particular night, the twins finished off their chicken while the boys and Della put away laundry from earlier in the day, and Shaun and I brushed the little girls’ teeth and packed them off to bed.

After the twins are in bed, the boys and I read a chapter or two of something (we’re on book 3 of the Tales of the Kingdom trilogy), while Della floats around half-listening.

The boys head to bed around 8:30, and Della stays up a little longer reading a story with me and getting ready for bedtime (usually 8:45ish).

By 9 PM, Shaun and I both feel pretty much like collapsing on the couch in a heap, and many nights, that’s exactly what we do. We sit for a while, catching up on our days and then watch a recording of The Voice or Duck Dynasty. Some nights, I edit pictures and prep blog posts for the next day or load the dishwasher and sweep the kitchen again. Some nights, I snuggle with my husband and try to move as little as possible.

All nights, I am pretty tired.

Our typical bedtime is 11ish, and I’m usually asleep within 5 minutes of our saying amen after we pray together in bed.

AAAAAaaaaaand, there you have it!

A fairly typical weekday for us.

(Although, since soccer season is over and piano practice is only once a week, this was definitely a fuller day than usual).

As you can see, we stay busy.

On days this full, it feels too busy. But most days, we have more time to breathe and relax and don’t get home quite as late (or don’t leave the house at all), which definitely helps with that whole sanity-preservation business.

Tap, tap, is this thing still on? Anyone? Anyone?

I don’t blame you a bit if you didn’t make it all the way through that mile long recitation.

But if you did, feel free to chime in with your own Day in the Life! You don’t have to be nearly as detailed, of course, but I’d love to know how you guys are spending your days–whether you have kids at home with you or at school or none at all!

P.S. In case you’re wondering when I do projects or the rest of the stuff you see here on the blog…well, some of it happens on the weekend. Some of it happens at night. Some of it happens during the cracks of the day when no one’s tugging on my leg or asking me about fractions. If it needs to get done, it does. Or it doesn’t. And nobody’s the wiser. ;) Sometimes, I have great plans for posts or projects that never come to fruition or just take waaaaaay longer than I would like.

Mostly, I’m learning to be flexible and not worry about it too much if “my agenda” doesn’t happen. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything–not because it’s glamorous (unless, of course, trying to figure out where the toddler took off and discarded her poopy diaper counts as glamorous) but because I am fully convinced that this motherhood gig is not just a job (although, it definitely is that).

It’s a calling.

And I can’t think of anything better than that.

Bump Style + Life Lately

Wanna hear something crazy?

I will be 36 weeks pregnant this week. I know, right?

I mean, that’s, like, legit or…something. And, after feeling like this pregnancy has draaaaaagged for the last 8 months, this whole being-right-at-the-tail-end business has really sneaked up on me.

Probably because I’ve been in a combination of survival + extra-busy mode lately. Shaun has been traveling for the last two weeks and home on the weekends (hence, the survival mode), and while he’s gone, I’m pretty much in P.J.s or exercise clothes all the live long day.

The extra-busyness has come on the weekends, when we’ve had soccer games (the season is over now; I’m not particularly sad about it) and two weddings in as many weeks to attend.

So, as far as clothing goes, I’ve been swinging on a rather wild pendulum from slob-fest to way more dressed up than I pretty much ever get. Like the time I wore this emerald green maxi to my good friend, Katie’s, wedding. katieweekend4 Sadly, this blurry shot is the only one we got with Katie and her new husband, Matt. But I did enlist Shaun to snap a quick shot of the full dress. Both with my coat on… katieweekend1 and off…


{The no-coat thing didn’t last long at all. It was chilly!}

Of course, as much as I loved getting to see a friend tie the knot, I have to admit that her wedding’s being a couple of hours away gave us a pretty awesome excuse for an extended date. We ate dinner at one of our favorite places, then headed to Dallas on a Saturday evening, watched a movie (The 100 Foot Journey–highly recommend! It’s fun and clean, plus it was a late-run movie, so we paid a whopping $5 for both of us. SCORE!}, and then had a leisurely morning (breakfast at La Madeleine, YUM!) and early afternoon before heading to the wedding. katieweekend3

{This is what I wore to dinner and the movie}

I’m grateful that I can still wear some of my low-waisted regular jeans, like these trouser-style ones that I’ve had since Simon was born. It makes me feel a little more normal and cute when I actually do bother to dress the bump these days.

However, THESE Big Star jeans that I bought from Mandy several years back have seen their last wear before this baby makes his grand appearance. At least, as long as I don’t want him to come out with a “Big Star” button imprint on his noggin. katieweekend {As you can see, I’m still loving my Kenneth Cole leather jacket splurge} Oh, and as far as what you’d see at a soccer game, this is about as fancy as it gets.

soccer mom

Of course, church is always a good reason to actually get dressed these days, so I hauled out this royal blue J. Crew shirt I bought on clearance months ago, intending to save it for “the end.” blue shirt {Yay for non-blurry pictures!}

But then, it occurred to me that this sort of is “the end,” and if I’m going to wear it this side of pregnancy, I’d better get after it.

So I did.

Thankfully, the wedding we attended this past weekend was indoors, but it’s still a bit of a challenge to find something that fits over the bump as is still warm enough and dressy enough.




Layers. A summer dress + a sweater, tights, boots and  coat (not pictured, obviously) = covered up, hopefully event appropriate, and warm (it’s been unusually chilly for the first few weeks in November).

So, there you have it, folks! A recap of life lately (minus the super mundane parts, although…I’m working on that post…no, seriously) + how I’ve been styling the bump in the home stretch.

Home. Stretch (probably with the emphasis on the word “stretch,” but we’ll see).

How has November been treating you guys? If you think to pray for us as we make it through week 3 of Shaun’s being gone, I’d appreciate it.

And what about Christmas music? Anybody listening yet? We’ve never started this early before, but we turned it on during a craft activity the other day, and now I can’t stop!

Wanna help me pick some kitchen jewelry?

So, I warned you that I would be a) writing one more post about our redone kitchen and b) asking for your help.

And I’m delivering on both threats promises today.

So, I’ve already made it clear that my kitchen brings me a lot of, well, this:


But did you notice something missing?


How about now?

Yup, that’s right. My cabinets are completely devoid of hardware. Gasp!

They’ve been that way since the beginning, but the paint color was so dark before that it hid it pretty well.

Now, with their being all white and bright, I feel like they look a bit, well, naked without some kind of something to dress them up a bit.

Plus, the white definitely shows the smudges from dirty little fingers pulling on them more, and I’d love to minimize that as much as possible.

Shaun sort of thinks we should just leave well enough alone, but as my friend, Jolinda, pointed out, cabinet hardware is kind of like the jewelry that finishes off your outfit. And since I’m a girl and all, I’m all about that.

Problem is, I’m not sure which kind of jewelry, er, hardware I want to go with.

Confession: a lot of times when I do polls on the blog, I already have a direction I’m leaning. Sometimes, you guys sway me. Sometimes, even if the majority likes something different, I stick with my gut.

But this time? I genuinely do not know what kind of hardware I want on my cabinets. (Although I do know some kinds that I don’t want, so at least there’s that).

Which is where you guys come in.

Below are a few categories of hardware that I like and think would work, and I’d love it if you’d weigh in with your thoughts. But I’m also totally open to suggestions if you have something you think would work even better than my current options.

1) Whimsical

antique turquoise pull

I really like these pulls from Hobby Lobby. I actually fully intended to use them on my cabinets and bought out my local HL’s supply of them (they only had a few). They’re sturdy and fun, and with a 50% off sale (the only time I buy them), a great price for a metal pull.

BUT. After they didn’t restock, I tried to special order them multiple times, and after hauling my kids to Hobby Lobby to pick them up 3 times in a row and being told, “Golly gee. We don’t know what happened, but we can’t find them,” I got pretty fed up and decided to put the whole hardware business on the back burner.

I feel like I could still manage to track enough of them down, but maybe the whole being-hard-to-find thing is an indication that I shouldn’t even pursue this route. Especially since they don’t have exact matching knobs. (My, but they do look dreamy against the white).

2) Classic

silver cup pull2 silver cup pull

I like both of these silver cup pulls (left and right). I mean, they’re pretty much the exact opposite of the funky turquoise ones, but I have a lot of stainless steel/silver finishes in my kitchen, so they would be a nice complement without being too flashy.

And since they’re so common, it wouldn’t be hard to find simple, coordinating silver knobs. They’d look crisp and clean against the white while adding still adding a bit o’ bling.

3) Classic with a Twist

scroll pull

Of course, I could also go with something that falls in between whimsy and tradition. These pulls are still simple while adding a bit of interest with the notched edges.

hammered knobs

And they’d look great with some hammered knobs like these.

4) DIY

And no, I don’t mean that I would literally make all of my own hardware (shudder). But it wouldn’t really be one of my posts if I didn’t have the option to DIY something. So, here’s the skinny. I bought some knobs/pulls, oh, years ago, fully intending to use them on our teal cabinets. I just never got around to it (although, I think my subconscious was holding me back by whisper-screaming, “Noooooo! Don’t put ORB hardware on dark cabinets!!!”).

diy knobs

I’m just really not into the whole oil rubbed bronze scene when everything else is so light and bright. But I am tempted to spray paint these the same color as I did my pantry door knob and then wax them to give them a bit of depth/durability. I realize that some of the paint would chip off, and I’m okay with that (although, I will say that the wax, which I used on the pantry knob, definitely helps to protect the paint).

It would give them a bit of the same vibe as option one (which has dark metal peeking through the turquoise) but without the hassle of having to track down matching knobs (or the rest of the pulls).


As far as what I don’t want…

I’m not interested in anything ultra-sleek or modern. And I guess you figured out that oil rubbed bronze it out. And, as much as I love vintage, I really don’t feel like that’s the direction I’ve gone with my kitchen, so that’s out too.

So, now that I’ve written entirely too many words about cabinet knobs, it’s time for you to tell me what you think.

Which option should I choose?

hardware collage

…with the last obvious option being, “none of the above; choose this one instead.”

Kitchen Paint Colors

I’m sure y’all are pretty tired of hearing about this kitchen redo of ours, and I promise that I will move on very soon. But first, I wanted to answer a question I keep getting that I fully intended to on Friday but completely forgot to include in the kitchen details and sources post. (And then I’ll have a question for you to help with tomorrow. And then I’m DONE! Probably).

So, the question was about our kitchen colors. As in, what are they?

First up, we have the cabinets, which we painted Sherwin Williams Dover White.

dover white

I think this swatch looks crazy yellow compared to the real deal because it’s truly just the creamiest, mellowest (NOT Y-ellowest) warm white, and that swatch looks just plain dingy…at least on my computer screen.


We chose it for the cabinets because we already have it on quite a few walls (it was actually the wall color in the kitchen before we repainted) and, as you can see, it’s a great neutral white without being too antiseptic/blue or gray.

Next up, we have Sea Salt (also by Sherwin Williams…actually all of these are) for the walls.

sea salt


As you can see in the background of this shot, we have this color in our living room too, and I love how it can morph from gray to blue to green depending on the time of day and lighting. The best part, though, is that it’s a beautiful, soothing color even in fluorescent lighting (which kind of sounds impossible, no?)

And finally, we have SW’s Aloe for the island. Although, this isn’t strictly the truth.


The strict truth is that I chose this color initially, and Shaun balked, thinking it would be too drastic against all the other soothing colors. He has great instincts, and we usually agree on stuff like this, so I kind of chickened out and had the painters go with the same color at a 50% dilution.

Bad choice.

The color ended up being so pale that I had to point out to Shaun that the cabinets and the island weren’t the same color before he realized it. I didn’t exactly want to go nuts with the island color, but I did want it to pop at least a little!

I had been so convinced that I wanted to go with a soothing sea foam shade, but after the initial flub, I started second-guessing myself like crazy. One Sunday, we went to Lowe’s, and I ended up with a rainbow of colors, using my Chiang Mai Dragon fabric as a guide.

color swatches from lowes

We spent an afternoon rolling all of those crazy colors on the island and got this super-attractive result.

island rainbow colors

Nothing was quite right, which brought me right back around to the sea foam I’d wanted in the first place (should’ve trusted my gut).

Still, I wasn’t convinced that Aloe color was exactly right (it was skewing a teensy bit more aqua in our kitchen light than I wanted), so we had a custom match made of something rather random…


See that little sea foam tin full of disgusting canned meat? (Embarrassingly enough, this was my home decor souvenir from Pairs–essentially cans of French Spam. They will never get opened, but I just loved all the colors together!).

I took the wrapper off and had Sherwin Williams color match it.

And THAT is what color our island actually is.

Which doesn’t help you tons if you’re hoping to duplicate it exactly. But I will say that, if you like the look, and want a place to start, then try  a sample of Aloe. It’s a gorgeous color (with its only fault being that it was a bit more blue than I wanted), and is very, very close to the color that we ended up with.

So, there you have it! Our kitchen colors and a hopefully-not-too-boring back story for why one of them isn’t actually the color on our island (believe me, I left out plenty of details about hours spent sanding and hand-rolling and then finally taping and tenting and having a friend come in and spray it anyway. Argh. That island drove me a bit nuts).

Do you always manage to nail your paint colors the first time? For me, it’s almost always a big process to get it right. Which is why certain rooms in my house (ahem, the downstairs bathroom) still need a different color than the first four I chose (I wish I were joking).

The Kitchen Redo–Details and Sources

I don’t know about you guys, but pretty much any time I see a room reveal I really like, I end up wondering where someone found such-and-such. Of course, it doesn’t always (in fact, rarely) means that I rush off and buy the same thing, but in some cases, seeing something (like the Target stools I ended up getting for the island) in someone else’s actual house is the little push I need to go for a purchase.

So, with that in mind, I’ve rounded up as many sources as I thought might be relevant, just in case you guys were wondering (in some cases, because I tend to buy things on maaaaajor sale or thrifted, they won’t help much because they’re sold out, etc., but at least you’ll know not to look for them). Oh, and if it’s not labeled, feel free to ask because I have preggo brain and may have just forgotten, but most likely it’s because it was such a random purchase that it could never be duplicated.


I might have had to paint them three times to finally get them just how I liked them, but these super-cheapy (maybe $2ish each) wooden letters from Hobby Lobby definitely work great for a large scale impact on the wall, not your wall-et (see how I did that?). (I scored the gold O there too on major clearance forever ago for $2, but it has since fallen off the wall and smashed to smithereens, more’s the pity. They do regularly stock both the gold and wooden letters, though).

In case you’re wondering, I painted the wooden letters with chalkboard paint (I could have sprayed them, but they were already stuck to the wall with Command strips since they started out a different color, so I used a brush) and then free-handed some chalk pen flowers onto them (I used the Bistro brand of chalk pen but only because it’s what I had; not particularly loyal to one brand of these).


I bought 3 of those industrial bar stools from Target online after searching high and low for the best price + reviews (and, yes, after seeing them in another blogger’s kitchen reveal post), and I really like them. They are very sturdy, and the seats are super wide, which makes me feel safe to put even the twins on them. They come in several finishes, and I wanted mine to mix and match with my other industrial stools (that I scored at Sam’s for a steal of $20 each), so I chose pewter.

I couldn’t find the green houndstooth kitchen rug at Target online, but I bought it on sale not too long ago, so you might be able to still find it in stores.


All the links you need for these lights are in this post that I wrote when we first got them. In it, I mentioned that one of the lights had a chip and that I was trying to decide whether to send it back. Well, then we noticed another (even smaller) chip in second light, so I called Grandin Road customer service, which basically resulted in a, “Send them back to us using the prepaid label, and we’ll refund you,” reply. I sat on it for a little longer, and then called back another day, which turned out a little better. That CS agent sent me replacement lights with free expedited shipping (she charged me again for the lights, with the understanding that when they received the ones I was returning, I would be refunded). I was pretty okay with the outcome until I realized that the “prepaid label” was actually on my dime and would subtract $9 from my refund for each light I returned. And this after I very specifically asked the CS agent if I would be receiving complimentary return shipping (her reponse: “there’s a prepaid label included,” which, while technically true, was definitely meant to give me the impression that it was prepaid by them, not me).

Anyhoo, when I realized the way it worked, I included a note with my return asking for a full refund of all charges, including shipping, because the flaw in the lights had been their bad.

But it just now occurs to me that, while I received email confirmations of my return/refunds, they didn’t itemize the amount returned. So, I’m not sure if they charged me for shipping or not.

ANYhoo, I didn’t really intend to get into all of that except that I felt like just saying that these lights are awesome doesn’t tell the whole story.

So, the whole story is this: these light are awesome. They’re beautiful, huge, and a really great deal compared to anything else I could find with their look.

BUT, the glass is not super-high quality. Even the replacements they sent had a few small bubble/flaws, which, since they weren’t all-out cracks or chips, I decided I could live with.

Just be warned that, if you do order these and receive a blemished one, their policy is to charge you for return shipping, and you will have to specifically request not to be charged it (with unknown results at this point) to get around that.

OH! And as far as hanging them in a cluster like we did…weeeeeeellll, that could stand to have a blog post all its own. But the short version is that we bought that wooden medallion from Lowe’s to hide the hole my husband had to cut in the middle of our ceiling to pull enough wires from the right spots to hang them all together. It might not be the most elegant solution ever, and it was definitely not a super-easy process (he is nodding emphatically right now), but I am really happy with how everything turned out in the end. If you have more specific questions about hanging them, email me at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com, and I’ll do my best to help forward it to my husband. ;)


About the only things that you’re likely to be able to duplicate from all of the randomness I have on these shelves would the bottom left cup from Anthro, the pretty aqua bottles from Walmart, and the top middle “Love” sign + zinc letter (both from Hobby Lobby, both 50% off).

(I could also hook you up with the person who made my “M is for Mama” clipboard sign if you have any interest in a custom version for yourself or a gift. Again, just email me).

All of the bowls, I have collected over time from Marshall’s, Ross, or Hobby Lobby.

I will say, though, that quite a few people ask about those chalkboard canisters on the bottom left, which I got at Target several years back but which are available in various sizes and colors at both Michael’s and Hobby Lobby right now.

shelf collage

I will also say that I’m planning on showing you guys how we made the pipe shelving. Buuuuuutttt, I just don’t know how soon I’ll get around to that.


Meet Fiona, my deer friend (ha, ha. I scored her on sale from Anthro online for only $15, which I thought was a smokin’ hot deal, considering that I would have easily paid that much at Marshall’s (she’s pretty big). She has since sold out. I’m sorry.


(I posted this shot to instagram with a call for name suggestions and got a much bigger response than I expected, so apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought she was pretty sweet!).

Oh, and since I didn’t actually show you a closeup of this behind-the-sink collage in my first post…


As far as sources, if you look at the pic above, my teal plates are from Pier 1, and the rest are listed below.



The bird hook + letter from Hobby Lobby, the scalloped chalkboard from Urban Outfitters (I got mine when it was on sale), and the frame from Walmart are all still available. The measuring spoons are from Michael’s (no longer available, although I think I spotted a set of them on Amazon a few weeks ago for waaaaaay more than I paid) and Anthro (not available online).


That Anthro plate is available from ebay if you want to spend a fortune (I think I paid $7, but people be scalping, y’all). And the mason jars are still available from Amazon.


The Just Do Today print is available from Lemonade Makin’ Mama. I love mine! All of the initial mugs are from Anthro (mine were a Christmas gift and spell out my name), and the soup mugs may or may not still be available at Walmart (I bought mine back in the spring when we had our dinner party).

Aaaaaand…I think that about covers it. Obviously, I have a thing for deeply discounted Anthro knick-knacks, random Marshall’s/Ross purchases, and–above all–HOBBY LOBBY. If you don’t have an HL near you, I’m sorry. That place is pure magic, and they almost always have something I’m looking for for 50% off (which brings it down to either a good or reasonable price) or, if all else fails, I can use their omnipresent 40% off one full-priced item.

Did I miss something you were wondering about? Feel free to ask away!




Meet Audrey, the Aqua Kitchenaid Mixer

First of all, can I just say a big, “Awwww, thanks!” for all of your sweet comments on my “new” light and bright kitchen?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll just keep right on saying it: Y’all are NICE!

I am completely honest when I say that I love how it turned out, and it makes me really happy, not only to have such a cheerful space to do life in (I really do spend about 75% of my at-home time in the kitchen between cooking/cleaning/projecting/homeschooling/making snacks/eating meals, etc.), but just to have every last detail of the vision that I had in my head out of my noggin and on my walls/shelves.

(Or, at least that was true until the “O” from my ENJOY sign came crashing down to the floor during family Bible reading yesterday morning and shattered into a gazillion tiny fragments; you know you’re a mama-blogger when your knee-jerk thoughts are a) Praise Jesus there wasn’t a baby underneath it and b) Praise Jesus I had already taken pictures of that because it probably won’t get replaced for a good long while and c) somebody needs to go sweep that up!

But even as genuine as that happiness is, I have to admit that, as  I was editing my pictures, another person’s beautiful kitchen popped up in my IG feed, and my knee-jerk reaction to that was to think something mopey like, “Mine’s not nearly as polished and awesome as hers.”

I know we’ve all heard this quote a ton, but…Comparison really IS the thief of joy.

I get a lot of joy from pouring my heart and soul into the heart and soul of my home. And still, a moment of viewing someone else’s version of kitchen happiness is able to (at least momentarily) tarnish that??? Ridiculous.

I would love to just blame it on preggo hormones, but I think it’s more of a human nature thing–a finding-your-worth-in-your-works instead of the-One-who-works-all-things-together-for-good kind of thing.

ANYhoo, I say all of that to assure you that your feedback–and above all the repeated, “It looks like you!” sentiment–was such a helpful reaffirmation of what I already know to be true: God created us all with unique talents and tastes, and while we can certainly appreciate someone else’s talents and tastes, the second we cross the line into coveting them, we’re not going to be content with our own anymore. And that’s just wrong.

So, yeah. Thanks for helping to restore some much-needed perspective.

And now on to the actual purpose of this post.

And that would be introducing you to this pretty, who had already caught several of your eyes from Monday’s post.

audrey mixer

Meet Audrey (yes, as in Breakfast at Tiffany’s…Tiffany blue…and all that).

She’s my new kitchen BFF.


{See her hiding back there all being all demure?}

Of course, since I love her so much, I am definitely hoping that she never has a run-in with my former kitchen BFF, Penelope, her scarlet predecessor, who got unceremoniously carted off by a total stranger following a parking lot rendezvous in which cold, hard cash changed hands. (I promise this is not how I treat my real-life pals).

That might get ugly.

But, here’s the thing: as much as I loved ol’ Penny, her sheer redness just didn’t jive any longer with the lighter/brighter vibe I was going for.

So, my options were to a) paint her myself (which would not have gone well), b) have her repainted by an autobody shop (apparently, they’ve been known to do such things and, while not cheap, it’s usually less than buying new), or c) sell her and buy a new one in my preferred color choice.

Since I got her for such a great deal brand new 5 years ago, I was pretty sure I could get at least all of my money back, which made the swap a bit of no-brainer.

Turns out, I was right. I actually made money selling her used (and without asking an exorbitant price, either) and then put that fundage toward the purchase of pretty lil’ Audrey, who just so happened to be on major sale (I did a lot of research and couldn’t find a better deal than this site offered), with a coupon code AND a $50 factory rebate.


As it turns out (and don’t tell Penelope), Audrey is more than just another pretty face. She’s actually quieter and runs more smoothly than Penny (who definitely got the job done and had no actual “problems” but was just a little bit on the noisier/rougher side, in general…which I would have never known before I got Audrey).  I don’t know if I just lucked out or if Kitchenaid actually upgraded their design.

But I do know this: Audrey and I are very happy together.

Do you have a Kitchenaid mixer? If so, how long have you had it, what color is it, and–most importantly of all–what is its name? I guess you already know all of my answers.  I don’t see myself getting another one any time soon (probably never), but I definitely wouldn’t complain if I won one of those fancy, painted flowery ones that the Pioneer Woman gives away!

The Kitchen Redo Reveal!

Just as a heads-up, I have 40 edited pictures of every angle of my kitchen to show you…which seemed like a bit much. So today, I’m basically going to show you an overview of the updates we made without too much commentary on the specifics, and then I’ll be back later on this week with detail pictures as well as sources.

Sound okay?

O-kay. (Imagine my doing an awkward fist pump/clap that would make every legit cheerleader everywhere hang her head in shame).

Just as a refresher, here’s what the kitchen looked like last spring.

old kitchen1 {If you want to see more pictures of the old kitchen set up from my first reveal, complete with terrible yellow light from 3 years ago, you can here}

I had a Project Elephant list of things I wanted to update, including new stools, new lights, decluttering the fridge/freezer, setting up a family command center, making word art for over the fridge, repainting the island, and sewing a new awning for the window.

Well, I am happy to announce that–although it might have taken me a good 6 months–I finally managed to check every last one of those items off my list.

But wait. That’s not all. Intrigued much? Okay, I won’t hold you in suspense. Without further ado, I invite you to grab a cookie if you like…


…and take a gander at our “new” and (in my mind) greatly improved kitchen.


Say whaaaaaat? This color-loving girl painted her cabinets white???


Yessiree, Bob!


And I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love it (even though the teal was pretty sweet too) for the sheer fact of how. much. BIGGER and lighter my kitchen feels now.


{Remember my chalkboard menu door? I finally found my spray paint and went for the aqua knob; I fully expect some of the paint to chip off, and I’m fully okay with it because I think it will add “character” ;) ).


We toyed with the idea of painting the cabinets ourselves (Shaun did it the first time), but with 5 kids + a preggo lady in the house, we weren’t too keen on having to share space with the oil paint fumes for days on end. So, we paid to have it down while we were in Europe. house32

And let me just say that, after DIYing your entire flipping house, it’s kind of beyond awesome to come home to something already done for you. Yes, it was more expensive, but it was also worth it. Times about a million, I think.    house11

Besides the new color scheme, my favorite part of the entire kitchen is something we did DIY…


…and that would be those funky pipe shelves that turned out even better in reality than they had been in my head.


A few more faves include my Chiang Mai dragon window awning…


And my “ENJOY” chalkboard letters + my sparkly new lights.


Honestly, as much as I loved the saturated colors in the old version of my kitchen, everything about the updated version just screams HAPPY to me.    house2

And, when you’re talking about a room that you spend the majority of your time in and sweep 3 times a day, HAPPY is a very good way for it to make you feel, indeed.

Oh, and just for fun, let’s do a little side-by-side before and after, m’kay?

kitchen update collage1

So, what do you think? Do you like lighter and brighter? I sure hope so because I am not touching anything in the kitchen for a good long while!



The I Do Chronicles {Part 5}: Dead Men Have No Rights

i do chronicles

If you’d like to see other posts in the I Do Chronicles, you can here.

Shaun and I both have a habit of whining about casually mentioning an ailment–oh–a good half a dozen times before we’ll actually do something about it. Especially headaches. Neither of us are big medicine-takers, and neither of us get bad headaches usually. But when we do–well, let’s just say that we might be better off popping a couple of Advil as soon as we feel the headache coming on.

So, when he winced and mentioned having head pain for the second time last night, I might have snapped: “Well, take something for it!” before he even got the words completely out. (And he might have arched an eyebrow at me since he was already on the his way to the medicine cupboard).

This was, my head wasn’t feeling too hot either, and I had just gotten home from a marathon of hauling all the kids from a midwife appointment to the gym to teach a class to two separate errands and then home to finish dinner at 7:30. I hadn’t eaten in hours, and exhausted didn’t even begin to do justice to how I felt after being up in the middle of the night for an hour and 1/2 with a 3-year-old terrified of a mysterious (inaudible to me) “ticking noise,” (when she was a little more coherent in the morning, she informed me that it was, “probably a tiger prowling around in our jungle” #okeydokey). And that, followed by a long day of homeschooling, twin-tantrum subduing (they’re a big fan of the “Okay, I’m done now; tag, you’re it” approach), house-cleaning, dinner-prepping, and lots and lots of child-correcting (I don’t know if it’s the crisp fall air or what, but they have been…ahem…more energetic than usual of late).

And all of that on top of the usual 33-week-pregnant stuff.

Now, to be fair, Shaun had been up with the toddler and the twins in the middle of the night too (because, apparently, that no-sleep thing is catching). Plus, his day had started super-early and pretty much pelted him hard until I got home with the kids, at which point he came down and immediately starting helping me with dinner.

Still, he hadn’t had to do all that stuff with 5 kids up in his grill all day long, now had he? Obviously, if anyone had a right to a headache, it was me.

And to top it all off, as soon as he had helped all 5 kids through their bedtime routines, changed twin diapers without being asked, and carted them off to bed without any prompting from me, he had the audacity to collapse on the couch with some of my best pillows over his head like this headache was for realz or something and fall asleep.

Leaving me with a trashed kitchen to clean up by myself for the third time that day.

As I ladled beans and rice and chicken and corn into separate Tupperware containers (chicken + rice bowls are delicious, healthy, and easy to make but super-annoying to clean up after), I could feel resentment stalking me.

Seriously, if anyone had a right to be huddled on the couch, it was the pregnant lady. Right? I mean, right?

But, for some reason, smack in the middle of scrubbing a pan while planning the perfect way to “laughingly” rib him for letting his pregnant wife tackle the kitchen solo at 9 PM, a phrase I’d read on my friend, Mary Krause’s, Instagram photo flashed through my mind.

“Dead men have no rights.”

I stopped mid-scrub and grimaced.

Because, y’all, I’m a dead man. I mean, not literally, obviously. A) Because I am not writing this from the after-life and B) I’m a woman.

But, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

If what I claim to believe is true, my old self is dead and Christ is alive in me.

Phew, right?! I mean, Jesus is the King of King and Lord of Lords. If He’s living in me, then there’s no WAY I should have to do the dishes by myself. That is a way unroyal thing to do.

Oh wait. Shoot. This is the same Jesus who, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

And that’s when it hit me yet again: Even though He is the Creator of the universe and has every right in the world to leave us (me) wallowing in our (my) depravity…“for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

{Insert groan of realization}

I’m big on fairness, y’all. I whack my children upside the head with the Golden Rule on a thrice-daily basis. And that’s not such a bad thing.

Until I start getting all petty and snitty over being denied my fair due.

We all know we’re not supposed to have expectations in marriage. That they set us up for failure, disappointment, and festering feelings of discontentment.

But, what if we took that one step further and did away with, not only our expectations, but our rights(Because doesn’t the expectation to have the garbage taken out stem from the feeling that we have the right to a little help around here, for crying out loud?).

What if, indeed.

As that phrase, “Dead men have no rights,” circulated through my mind and heart, a miraculous thing started to happen. All of that indignation toward my husband that had been building steam in my veins–just waiting for the perfect passive-aggressive way to explode–just…evaporated.

I stood at the kitchen sink and asked God to change my heart and attitude, and you know what? He did! (Imagine that).

Suddenly, it was very clear to me that my husband had done nothing wrong (had, in fact, done so many things right), and I was struck by a very-not-of-myself gratefulness that he was getting to sleep instead of being guilted into doing something I was perfectly capable of doing by myself. Especially seeing as how–well, look at that–I didn’t feel nearly as bone-weary as I had even five minutes before.

That may sound all sweet and self-sacrificial of me, but I think all you have to do is read the first half of this post to see that it’s not my natural reaction. That was Christ in me. Because, even though the old me keeps trying to resurrect herself from the grave like some worm-eaten, decaying corpse out of a bad zombie movie, she’s dead.

And dead (wo)men have no rights.

Date Night Slice

Ezra, Simon, and Della spend pretty much every Friday night at my mom’s house. Sweet, right? (In both the surfer-dude and the man-that’s-so-nice-of-her sense).

And even though that means that I still have two kids at home with me, it feels like a break.

Plus, it gives Shaun and me a better shot at having a date night if we really want to try hard enough.

Which…we rarely do. We almost never hire babysitters, and, honestly, by Friday night, we’re usually both so beat that my bringing home our favorite Thai food after running errands with the twins is the highlight of our evening.

But last week, we were both going a little stir-crazy. I hadn’t gone to “town,” so there was no Thai food to be had, and the thought of rummaging through the fridge for leftovers wasn’t doing it for either one of us.

So, we drove to “town” (this is seriously what we call the closest city to us) and ate at a new restaurant that I’d been to just the week before for Mandy’s birthday.

tuscan slice

{Skinnies: Goodwill, Top: GW, Button-up: Old Navy (a while back), Boots: MIA (ooooold)}

I threw on this little ditty, feeling bad because I wasn’t so sure Shaun would love it–kind of a bummer for him since I usually spend my Friday nights decked out in workout clothes or, better yet, a ratty tank top and yoga pants. So, if I’m going to get dressed up, it might as well be his style, right?

tuscan slice1

But he ended up declaring it a hit. Apparently, the neutral colors and overall comfy look beat out his distaste for layers, ruffles,  and all other forms of sartorial frou-frou (I’ve talked about this before, but if he had his way, I’d be dressed in a simple tee and worn-in jeans more often than not). tuscan slice3

For my part, I was a fan of the flowy top + stretchy jeans combo, which let me consume my fair share of some seriously delicious spinach/artichoke dip and wood-fire pizza and did an admirable job of disguising my then-32-week-pregnant bump.

Miraculously enough, even though the twins went with us and even though we gave them pretty much free rein of our huge booth (which meant lots of climbing in and out of what’s left of my lap), I managed to emerge with hardly a trace of pizza sauce or mozzarella grease on my cream-colored shirt.

Now, that’s a date night outfit win!

Do you guys shoot for regular date nights, or are they pretty hit and miss? Honestly, putting the twins to bed and collapsing on the couch next to my favorite person with a plate full of yummy food I didn’t cook and a good movie to watch feels pretty date-nightish most weeks. But it’s always nice to shake things up, even if there are still a couple of twin monkeys along for the ride.

Does your husband have a “look” he loves on you? Fortunately for me, even though Shaun definitely has preferences, he tends to be pretty complimentary no matter what. Good, good man.

Linking up with Lindsey!