The Parisian Lady Tee

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

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

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

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

The one notable exception was the Parisian Lady tee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just kidding.

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

I did thank him profusely for his kindness, though.

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

I think we all know the moral of this story.

Never do cartwheels while pregnant.

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

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

 

31 Week Pregnancy Check-in {Baby #6}

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

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

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

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

I remember labor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As far as the rest…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 weeks + 3 days = 3 months pregnant

26 weeks + 6 days = 6 months pregnant

31 weeks + 3 days = 7 months pregnant

35 weeks + 4 days = 8 months pregnant

40 weeks = 9 months

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

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

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

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

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

Ain’t gonna Anthro-pologize

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

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

That there is true love, folks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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{Mugs for daaaaaaays}

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

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

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

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

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

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Literally.

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

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

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

Amen, and bless it.

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

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

 

 

 

Kindred spirits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linking up with Lindsey.

Fall decorating + the back story…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I may or may not get to adding anything else.

And that’s just fine by me.

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

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

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

A painted pantry door…

First things first…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts?

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

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

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

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

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

Win! (?)

Any suggestions for wall colors and/or knob options?

 

 

32

Hey there, folks!

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

Happy Monday!

Maxi-mum Wear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yup!

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

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

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

Twins Are Twice as Sweet 2nd Birthday Party

I wasn’t sure until maybe a week and 1/2 before the twins’ 2nd birthday party materialized a) whether we were even having a party and b) what it would be like if we did.

Last year, I planned a big outdoor shindig for their 1st birthday...

And then it rained, for like the first time in 2 months…pretty much exactly and only during the hours of their party.

So, we moved everything and everyone upstairs to our big room, which I am so grateful to have. But, I’m not going to lie: it was crowded, nothing was particularly cute (despite hours of prep for several days ahead of time), and I was borderline pouty about the whole business.

This year, I didn’t have the energy for that kind of pressure (cough, pregnant, cough), so when I finally did decide on a semi-applicable “theme”–which then meant that there needed to be a party  to accompany it–I knew I didn’t want to go big. At all.

Of course, I also wasn’t planning on going quite as small as we ended up being after two of the invited families ended up with sick kids on the day of the party. What a bummer!

The plus side? The weather was absolutely gorgeous (which only slightly lessened the grudge I’m still holding against last year’s thunderstorm) and we got to eat yummy food and play with family and friends. Which is really all that little kids (should) care about.

The boys and I had fun making no-bake treats as a supplement to our homeschooling (um, hello? fractions, measuring, reading…it’s practically a flippin’ SAT prep course!) several days in advance, and the rest I did a little at a time throughout the week (up until the ultimate all-day-long, can’t-sit-down, too-much-to-do push of the day of).

The results were pretty much what I’d hoped for: cute, simple, and–you guessed it–very sweet.

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The best part was that I already had almost everything you see on the table here (which was the only thing I decorated, so be prepared for shots from every angle). The wrapping paper I used to cover the ugly folding table…the striped bags for the favors…the party cups…the napkins. Practically all of it, I had either collected on super-clearance over time or had leftover from another party, and it felt pretty good to just toss all of it together in one big, sugartastic explosion of color!

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It’s hard to get much more on-the-nose with a “Twins are Twice as Sweet” theme than pretty glass jars full of very sweet things–in this case, chocolate-dipped pretzels, jelly beans, Lemonheads, caramels, gumballs, and homemade caramel popcorn. twinparty2

 

I had ordered a grab bag of items from Pick Your Plum months before, not having a clue what I’d get. But several cute party accessories were included–like those yellow cookie-holders. Okay, so I don’t know what they’re actually intended for, but they were the perfect size for the chocolate-dipped morsels of death by marshmallow fluff cookies that the boys and I made, so I went with it.

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Another fun item from the same PYP haul was these cupcake wrappers/embellishments. They fit perfectly in with all the bright colors and candy-related theme.

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I already had a pretty decent stash of pretty paper straws leftover from bygone parties, so I tucked them into those white laser-cut holders from the Target Dollar Spot.

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You’ve seen this chalkboard make several appearances already, including in my family command center and my fall-themed buffet reveal.

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I didn’t really do much with the chalkboard trend when it first started, but now that’s it’s been going strong for a while (and is probably petering out, honestly), I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with different fonts and embellishments. Although I’m not much good at coming up with the pretty stuff on my own, I usually have a design in mind and am decent at hodge-podging together elements that I scrounge from Pinterest or Google searches. At least, I’m happy enough with the results. twinparty8

I borrowed the small candy jars from a sweet friend, but the large apothecary jars were my one big splurge for the party, since I knew I could use them again and again, both for future festivities and for decorating/useful purposes in between. They were 1/2 off at Hobby Lobby, but they still cost about $22 each. Honestly, though, after doing quite a bit of looking around both online and in stores, I couldn’t find a better price for something of this size and quality.

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Those little double mint cookie balls were a major labor of love (AKA: a pain in the bohonkus) but I kind of adored how cute they were when all the fussy parts were done. Oh, and they were YUM-MO! (I’ll share more about some of these treats soon).

Of course, pretty-looking treats can only serve as (forgive me) eye candy for so long…

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Eventually, they must be eaten.

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Not too surprisingly, none of the party guests complained too much about that task…

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And the birthday girls seem happy to do their part as well.

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Not that I didn’t try to do my fair share. (This is the plate I made for me and Shaun, but I was so tempted to caption it: “It’s for the baby”).

It was such an enjoyable evening right up until the moment that I crawled into bed and realized that my raging allergies from the week leading up to the party had morphed into something else entirely (evil).

But, after spending the weekend downing Echinacea and Vitamin C and taking as many naps I could cram into a 72 hour period that was already pretty full of schedule obligations, I feel a whole lot better. At the very least, I can breathe out of one nostril at a time for longer than 30 minutes. And that, my friends, is progress.

Ultimately, I’m happy that I made the effort to do something fun for the twins’ birthday, but I’m not so sure they’re getting another one until they’re at least five!

Do you guys throw a party for your kids every year? We don’t. But neither do we really have a system for when we do. Simon and Della get somewhat gypped every year because their birthdays are so close to Thanksgiving (Simon’s is actually on it this year). But we did manage to throw them a mega-bash a couple of years back. And Ezra has gotten something resembling a party every couple of years or so since he was born. I suppose some day, we’ll have to figure out something that makes it more “fair,” but, for the most part, my kids don’t seem to notice too much if one gets a party and another doesn’t. A cookie, though? Well, that’s another matter entirely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Twins are TWO!

You guys. NO lie. It seems like about a month ago that I was absolutely desperate to meet my twin girlies. They’d been riding around comfortably (they were comfy, but their poor mama sure wasn’t; turning over in bed was an 8-point, 45 second process by the end) for 39 weeks and 4 days, and I just couldn’t wait to see what they looked like, hold two armfuls of heavenly smelling baby goodness, and see if the names we’d picked out the very night  we found out it was twins would fit. (And this from the woman who begged God not to give her multiples!)

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{Evy’s on the left; Nola’s on the right}

Thing is: that wasn’t a month ago. That was 2 full. years. ago.

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{I’m not sure the girls believe it either}

That’s right. It’s been two years since I wrote about the 5-day-long process that was getting those stubborn little sweeties out of my belly.

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And if the time has flown for me, then I’m guessing you’re a bit flabbergasted too (since other people’s lives always seem to pass much more quickly than mine).

But this much I can tell you: long or short, every moment of my time with my precious girls has been a unique and unexpected blessing from the Lord.

Maybe that sounds like romanticizing things or glossing over the bad parts, but really, there haven’t been any that I can even remember. Yes, having two exactly the same age when I already have 3 has been challenging. Yes, it’s a pain to go places in public. Yes, screeching (even the happy kind) in stereo is really, really obnoxious. And, yes, yes, YES 2-year-old tantrums X 2 are as nerve-shredding as they sound.

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{Tantrums? US?? NEVER}

BUT. Challenging does not = bad. And, in the case of my girls, it has meant quite the opposite. Jesus, in His mercy, has used these blue-eyed, smiley little miracles to grow my patience (this is a never-ending process), deepen my love for all of my children, and give me a peace about His will like I’ve never had before.

All of my children have slept through the night from an early age, including the twins, but before them, it was something that I stressed about. As bedtime neared, I would feel anxiety rising in my throat, even after they had established a pattern of sleeping through the night.

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What if my baby didn’t sleep well? What if I had to face the next day sleep-deprived and cranky? What if…? I mean, really, what’s the worst that could happen? I napped when they did instead of getting something done? Big whoop. (That sounds like my idea of fun these days).

Except that hormones speak so much more loudly than logic when you’re a young, new mom, and you’ve just birthed a helpless little human. A tiny tyrant from whom you’re more than a little desperate to escape for more than 2 hours at a time. And yet to whom you are completely enslaved by the bonds of love.

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But with the twins, I expected to get no sleep. To be nothing more than a glorified milk factory. To be exhausted and hollow-eyed. To completely lose my sense of self in the care of not one but two tyrannically helpless humans.

And you know what? In that complete surrender of any expectations for normalcy, I found so much joy in serving my daughters. I didn’t dread nighttime like I had before. And even when, on the bad nights at the beginning, I alternated between feeding them one at a time on the hour every hour, I still felt complete and total peace that, “This too shall pass. We’re going to be just fine.”

And let me just say, y’all, that this is not bragging but instead boasting in the Lord because not one ounce of that peace came from anything that my personality is naturally inclined to do.

It was a lavish example of God’s grace on me during a daunting, uncharted period of motherhood for me.

I can honestly say that, not only is having twins not nearly as “bad” as it sounds (in terms of difficulty), but it’s about a million (trillion?) times better than anything I could have dreamed up.

I halfway expect for #6 to come out and me to say: “Where’s the other one?” (Which, I suppose, would be fitting in some ways). I’m not so sure I’ll know what to do with just one baby!

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{Sometimes, it sounds like three cats trying to fight their way out of a paper bag when the girls are all playing upstairs. But then, there are moments like these}

We’re having a little “Twins are twice as sweet” themed birthday party for the girls tomorrow, and that phrase pretty much sums up the last 2 years for us. I love all of my children fiercely, but I am just so stinkin’ grateful to have the unique opportunity to watch these two grow up side-by-side, so different in their personalities…

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{Evy, the (Over)Thinker}

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{Nola, the Social Butterfly}

…but both so connected and equally cherished.

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So…Happy Birthday, Evy and Nola!

You have given this Mama’s life a double-shot of sweetness, and I am so thankful God saw fit to make you mine.