All posts by blogabbie

Raisins and countertops

Hi, friends.

I write those two words with almost the same level of trepidation that I would if I were texting a friend whose birthday I’d missed (something I did last week, actually). Everything is such a blur at the moment. But I still feel like I “should” be blogging…should be updating and encouraging and sharing with you.

In the past, I don’t think I couldhave gone a week without blogging without a significant level of guilt because I’m a dutiful sort, and I feel “bad” if I don’t do what I say I will…even if no one else is requiring it of me.

HOWEVER, I know that you all are busy too–that you understand that some seasons in life are more hectic than others and that you would agree with me when I say that my priorities are better now than in the past when I might have forgone something more important than blogging just for the sake of fulfilling some sort of misplaced duty.

Even so, I miss you guys. I miss writing. And I’m sorry that I’m not doing a better job of balancing all of the things at the moment.

To make up for and distract from my shortcomings, I am posting pictures of Mr. Theodorbs himself in the midst of the Great Raisin Heist of 2017 (aka: what you have to resort to to get a snack around here when Mama is distracted by cleaning/organizing/rearranging all the things that seemed perfectly fine to you to begin with).

raisincollage

This little boy is like no other of my children so far (true of each, but, in some ways, especially true of him). He is mischievous and happiest when either a toy sword or stick is clutched in one plump fist (or both). He is noticeably athletic–leaping, throwing, catching, and running with a coordination that belies his mere 27 months. He’s reached almost every milestone earlier than any of the others. He is SO cheesy and hammy. Definitely the most theatrical of a bunch of rather UNshy and drama-prone children. He still has his sweet, soft, lisping voice–except when he’s hurt/scared/just plain mad as a hornet…in which case he uses the exact same level of volume and ear-scratching rasp to express all of his woes (makes it a wee bit difficult to discern between “bleeding to death” and “he looked at me wrong”).

And, even though he has his “days,” more often than not, he is a welcome source of smiles and chubby-armed hugs in the midst of the crazy that is trying to get a house ready to sell, finish building the other one, homeschool (including attending our homeshool co-op), teach fitness classes, and put something decent on the table for dinner most nights. Oh yeah. And feed a newborn every 2-3 hours.

Speaking of the new house, the loose plan is to shoot for moving in in about 3 months. That is, if this house sells quickly (only the Lord knows). If it takes a while to sell, we’ll just keep plugging away at the new one. Regardless of when we sell this one (unless it’s a year from now), we’ll be moving into an unfinished house because, even with all of the incredible progress Shaun has made, there’s still a lot left to do.

But we have lined up some tradesmen to finally start doing some of the work (he’ll still be working every chance he gets…just in different areas of the house)–especially key as he’s about to start a round of work trips that will significantly decrease his ability to get things done out there.

The plan–Lord willing–once we get our current house on the market (hopefully this week) is to spend as many evenings as possible at the new house as a family–cleaning, caulking, puttying, sanding, and doing anything else that might lessen the load and expense for any workers that come out.

To that end, I really need to figure out some travel-friendly meals to plan ahead for those nights. We have a small fridge there, and Shaun will hook up a stove for us to use, but it won’t be anything like a fully stocked kitchen, and most nights, we’ll be stopping at the new house to work on our way home from my teaching at the gym. So! Any brilliant ideas you have for easy, portable, reheatable, nutritious meals would be greatly appreciated.

In other news, we’re seriously considering going with quartz on the countertops after all. The manufacturer we were planning to use to fabricate our laminate countertops is no longer available, and let’s just say the samples I’ve seen of the laminate edge I want from local guys have left something to be desired.

We’re still not set, but we’re leaning toward Torquay by Cambria, which comes in jumbo slabs, which we’ll need for the length of the island. Even so, we’ll have to shorten the island by a little over a foot, since the longest option is about 132″.

torquay

 

That’s it above, and the color is a pretty white with gray/tan veining that more or less mimics the look of marble.

We’ve gotten three quotes (well 2 wholes and 1 partial) so far. The first was eye-bugging, the second reasonable, and the third hopefully a bit of a steal (we’re waiting on them to come back with what they will charge for the quartz itself; but their install price per sq. foot is almost half of their competitors).

Aaaaand there you go: an update of sorts for the goings-on in these parts.

The good news is that I’ll have to take pictures of our entire house for when we list it, which means you’ll get a more detailed HOUSE TOUR than any I’ve yet shared in–oh–the last six years.

Which means you’ll finally get to take a gander at our master bathroom–something I just know you’ve been hankering to see. Ahem.

Anyhoo. Get excited. If we’re all lucky, I miiiiiight post a room or two sometime later this week.

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2 Months of Honor

It feels like mere days since I did Honor’s 1 month update. Like…last week, right?

But no. A whole month has passed, and this little boy of ours is getting less little by the minute it seems. Especially considering that I put him a 6 month sleeper the other day, and…it FIT. 6 months. He’s 8 weeks, yo. That’s just wrong.

Everything else is juuuuust right, though. Seriously, he deserves some sort of award for being the chillest baby in the land. Joely, a super sweet freshman girl who used to work in the childcare at our gym, texts me every time she’s home from college and begs to see my kids (see: suuuuper sweet), so Shaun and I snuck in a Tuesday night date while the kids yucked it up with Joely at home. Of course, we had our main little man with us, and he was the model citizen. You might even say it was an Honor to have him with us (grooooooooan. I know. so wrong).

8 weeks1

Such a chill dude.

He was awake (and happy!) for pretty much all four hours of the date, just staring around, cooing, smiling, making bubble goatees, and generally being an all-around sweetheart.

15 years ago, when I knew nothing about babies, I think I foolishly thought that those with lots of kids must surely get jaded by the whole process. Ho. Hum. Another baby. Big whoop.

But it IS a big whoop, as I’ve discovered more and more with each new little amazing human that has joined our clan. I might be getting MORE (not less) obsessed (which is saying something–because I was pretty dang smitten with Della, and she was number 3!).

I think I mentioned that Honor was sleeping great from the beginning but had yet to make the jump from 6 hours to anything longer consistently. Honestly, that was my fault. I hadn’t really hadto employ any of my more “hardcore” sleep-training techniques (letting him fuss before bed or cry a little at night) because he’d pretty much always slept for big chunks, since day 3.

But, one night, a few weeks ago, I put my mean mama mask on and put him in the bathroom when he started to stir after 6 hours and let him spit and mew for a bit (which he only did half-heartedly anyway). And the very next night, he bumped his sleeping stretch up to 8 hours and has been holding steady between 7-9 hours ever since.

Edit: I first wrote this a few days ago, but didn’t manage to get the pictures loaded (because that is the story of my life right now), and he slept a whopping 10 hours both of the last two nights!!

8 weeks

I slept 10 hours last night, and I feel grrrrrrEAT! (Also: baby feet). 

Which…is awfully considerate of him, since Theo has decided it’s time to try a little 2-year-old sleep regression on for size. Hint: it doesn’t look good on you, buddy. Mama thinks you’re the cutest toddler in the land, but she still has no interest in waking up at 3 AM to your chubby-cheeked self mouth-breathing an inch away from my nose.

As far as regular life, we’ve been pushing hard to get the house ready. It’s kind of a disheartening process. Just when I think we’ve got it in shape, the kids wake up. HA!

For real, though. It’s really, really hard to keep everything decluttered and straight and picked up when 9 people are con.stant.ly using it!

Still, the cabinets have been cleared out, their contents pared down, reorganized, wiped down, etc. The flowerbeds are completely done (and we haven’t killed anything yet!). Shaun has pressured-washed the exterior of the house. More loads of stuff than I even knew we owned have been carted off to Goodwill. (I’m starting to get downright ruthless…if it hasn’t been used in the last 15 minutes, it’s GONE).

And everyone has pitched in in his/her own way. I paid the oldest 3 a dollar each (which Della promptly gave to her grandma for her birthday…love that sweet girl!) to clean and organize my fridge, and it was 3 of the best dollars I’ve ever spent! They also completely overhauled and cleaned the pantry while I worked on closets, and it looks better than it has in years!

8 weeks4

Looking over into the kitchen and seeing moments like these–the older kids are painting the littles’ fingernails–give me such a boost of energy and motivation to keep plugging. 

As far as I’m concerned, I have ONE more space (a doozy) that serves as the game/outgrown clothes/pillow/suitcase/randomness closet, and it’s eating my lunch (mostly because I’m insisting on going through every last piece of 5 year old clothing instead of just shoving it all in bins), and the process of weeding out the stuff with the tiny stains I missed the first time and the stuff that’s just not cute enough to keep and the stuff that might come in handy (but who knows?!) is grueling for me. Well. As grueling as sifting through a surplus of possessions can be (we’re not talking about working in the rice paddies here, people).

Through it all, Honor continues to be a constant source of sunshine and snuggle breaks. MAN! I love this baby. I really couldn’t sugar-coat his existence if I tried because he’s just that sweet already.

8 weeks3

Best smile. Best baby. 

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Mama Life Hacks {#11}: Grape Juice + Activated Charcoal to Combat Stomach Bugs

A friend texted me a thank you the other day for posting this blog (which is several years old by this point) and observed that, if life ever gets too busy to post, I should just repost this one, since it was such a lifesaver and as many people as possible should see it (having been the recipient of this life-changing tip from several readers, I know how grateful I was too). 

The stomach bug has ravaging the entire East Texas area, and–while my children have emerged largely unscathed (so far) (the twins + Theo are the only ones who’ve had a short-lived bout with it after a stint in the Chick-fil-a play area #ofcourse)–you better believe that my pantry is stocked with both of these items at all times (and that they were a large part of the reason our only stomach bug this season passed so quickly). 

So! Here you go. A repost of what is currently my most popular blog post according to my analytics page (must not just be East Texas getting hit). 

If the title of this post doesn’t just steal every little bit of thunder I might have been able to conjure up for it, I don’t know what does. grape juice Still, I feel like a little more explanation is needed, so here goes:

About a year and 1/2 ago, Shaun was doing one of his marathon rounds of work trips that seem to come in waves during the spring and then again right around Christmas (when, unfortunately, everyone suddenly gets frantic to spend the rest of their budgets by the year’s end).

I had 5 kids, including 20-month-old twins, and I was pregnant with Theo. First trimester pregnant to be exact, so I was feeling suuuuuuper peppy and swell, as you can imagine.As you can also imagine, I was suuuuuuper thrilled when, pretty much the second that Shaun left for his first work trip, we came down with a stomach bug. Yup. Angels were singing and everything.

Before 24 hours had passed, every single one of my children was lying on the floor with a bowl by their sides. We couldn’t leave the house due to unpredictable puking patterns (is there any other kind?), and my feelings of thrilled-ness were just increasing by the moment. (Although, I was oh-so-grateful not to be sick myself). grape juice1 Which is when my kind, wonderful, awesome readers came to my rescue. I posted some sort of pitiful picture of us all, and several fellow mamas told me to get my hot *germ-covered) little hands on some 100% grape juice and a bottle of activated charcoal capsules ASAP.

I did a bunch of internet research and discovered that grape juice is, indeed, widely lauded as a preventative for stomach bugs. Something about the particular acid it carries is effective in combating stomach bug bacteria. (AKA the stuff that must, assuredly, coat every surface of the 7th level of Hades).

The most important thing to remember, though, is that it’s a preventative measure, not a cure. In other words, once you’re already puking, the only thing grape juice will produce is purple puke. And who needs that?

So! The next time the first victim succumbs to the stomach flu in your house, buy 100% (important not to get the “cocktail” or the “lite” or the “combined with other juices” version…you want the straight stuff) grape juice and get your kids to guzzling. If they’re anything like mine, they’ll be so excited to be given pure, undiluted juice on demand that they won’t ask why you’re suddenly so keen on their gulping it by the glassful. grape juice2 (Of course, the second Nola saw Evy being my model, she insisted: “Mama, I want my picker too!” And of COURSE, she was wearing nothing but undies, so I told her to go put something decent on if she wanted her moment in the spotlight…and this is what she came downstairs wearing. Eh. Could be worse)

The other little miracle that I mentioned is a bit of a harder sell for kids. Activated charcoal comes in little capsules that can be found at most drugstores (I found mine at Drug Emporium…is that a chain? I don’t know, but it sounds kind of shady, now that I think about it), and it basically works as an absorbent agent to soak up the bad bacteria in your gut.

I know that’s a super untechnical description of its properties, but even though I did my due diligence, it’s been a year and 1/2, and I don’t remember all the particulars. I do know that it’s safe, even for small kids, if administered correctly (be sure to do your research on amounts for small children and how often you should take it). And IT WORKS. And! It works once you’re already upchucking too. It helps to lessen the symptoms and shorten the sickness time.

Disclaimer: I think it goes without saying that I am NOT a doctor, nor do I claim to be. Before you ingest anything to help with sickness, you should make sure that you’ve done your own research and consulted your own doctor if you have any questions or are unsure about dosages/usages. grape juice4 Okay, so going back to that time I mentioned when we got sick. Well, Shaun had to travel again a couple of weeks later, and you know what? We got sick AGAIN. What?? So wrong. But this time, I was stocked up on grape juice and activated charcoal capsules, and I got everybody drinking their anti-voms cocktails as fast as you could yell, “BOWL!”

And you know what? That time, only Della (our first to fall) got sick. GLORY! To mix up this lovely, magical concoction, you simply twist the capsules of activated charcoal open, and stir in one full capsule (for older children and adults; I use fractions of capsules for younger). You can do this multiple times a day (up to a point…again…RESEARCH!).

It doesn’t have a taste, and the grape juice completely masks the inky black color, but it does have a bit of a gritty texture that you’ll feel on your teeth afterwards, so I suggest downing it as fast as you can go. You can even make it a game with your kids to see who can finish first! And then everybody can snicker at each other’s black mustaches.

I’ve used this trick every time we’ve had even a whiff of the stomach crud for the past 18 months (my kids don’t get sick often, but considering our frequent trips to the gym daycare, the sickness does tend to rear its ugly head 2-3 times a year), including this past weekend (you might recall that I mentioned that we stayed home from church due to sickness), and it has made such a difference–so much so that rarely do more than one or two of us get the nastiness and then only for 12 hours or less.

So, there you go! One of my BEST Mama Life Hacks for you. I’d happily give credit where it’s due, but honestly, it was multiple mamas who shared this little nugget o’ pure gold, so my heartfelt thanks goes out to all of you.

Tell me: did you already know about the grape juice trick? What about activated charcoal? Any “fun” vom stories to tell? We had a nice little incident in Subway when Della hadn’t puked for 48 hours, and I thought we were in the clear that involved an unfortunate amount of puke on the floor right near the drink dispenser + a total lack of readily available wipes on my part (#momfail), and the stingiest stack of napkins ever from the young male Subway employee who had clearly never cleaned up toddler vomit . (Oddly enough, we no longer frequent this Subway).

Any great #mamalifehacks to share? Leave them in the comments, or hashtag them on social media, and who knows? I might just feature YOU! (And then, your life would be made. I just know it).

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That time I didn’t go to Hawaii…

 

A few months before I started blogging, Shaun and I took a trip to Hawaii with Della (who was only two months old at the time).

kauai

{An evening excursion to the beach the first night we were there}

It was a fun trip, but I discovered while I was there that I don’t love Hawaii (because, apparently, if you don’t absolutely fall in love with Kauai, then Hawaii is not in your soul because it doesn’t get better than Kauai). Don’t get me wrong. Kauai is gorgeous. It just didn’t inspire the raptures in me that it does in some.

So, when Shaun found out that he would be going to Honolulu on a work trip, my initial thought was that I would try to go, but I wasn’t as excited as you might expect. Mostly because–having traveled once before to Hawaii with a newborn–I knew the limitations/challenges. Della did AH-MAZING everywhere we went…even on the 6 hour flights there and back. She hardly made a peep. And Honor is an equally chill baby, so he probably would have done well too. But still…he is a newborn. Who blows out his diaper, needs to eat often, and gets cranky if we can’t find him a quiet place to sleep.

Plus! The timing was terrible. We’re smack dab in the middle of getting our house ready to sell, and, as my friend Kristy says: “There’s nothing like moving to make you feel like hoarder.” (AKA: what IS all this stuff, and what idiot bought it?? Oh. Yeah. Me).

All that to say that I chose not to go. Instead I stayed home with 7 kids and did yard work. I know. What a doofus, right? But all I could think about was how busy Shaun usually is on his work trips and how I’m not a big beach girl and how I’d rather sell our house quickly than frolic by the pool. (Hmm…maybe not that last one).

Turns out, this was one of Shaun’s least busy trips. He got to surf and hike. He has told me more than once that I “should have come” (although, he was fine/in agreement with my decision to stay).

So, 7% of me (the whiny 7%) is all, “Booo! Poor me! Should have gone!” But the other 93% knows I did the right thing. The kids and I got SO much done (with help from my sweet parents, sister-in-law, and some awesome friends), and I know I would have been stressed by all that was still left to get done when I got back from Hawaii.

Plus, a super bizarre thing happened to my dad, which, although not his fault at all, still required a lot of running around and trouble for my mom. And that stress would have been magnified greatly by having six kids under her care. For that reason alone, I’m grateful that I didn’t go and grateful that the Lord is sovereign even down to the smallest detail.

Also, grateful that our flower beds are DONE! I’ve admitted here several times before that exteriors are not my forte. So, having that particular monkey off my back is a huge relief. We have friends whose family business is a plant farm, so last Friday, I dragged the four littlest out of bed before it was fully light and drove out to their plant farm, where our friend, Rob, proceeded to race me around helping me (code for: practically choosing for me, thank goodness) choose flowers. Then, I hustled home, unloaded the van, jumped back in and drove to town to teach my morning class. After which, I booked it home to start planting, stopping for mulch on the way. My mom and older kids were already there hacking away at my neglected flower beds.

flower beds

 

{Theo is napping and Honor is in the swing on the porch in this picture, in case you’re wondering}

I know that I talk a lot about how #hardisnotthesamethingasbad and, honestly, I think that one of the hardest and best things in mothering is child-training. Especially training your children to do the right thing–i.e. obey, go to bed, pick up after themselves, speak respectfully, work. 

Sure, potty-training is rough, but it’s less of a heart issue than so many other aspects, and training your child to be diligent or full of integrity or kind is where the true mama rubber meets the life road.

Surely, that’s why the Bible specifically commands us to: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.

God knew we needed this promise. Because it’s just so much easier to do the chore yourself or ignore the eye roll or let the toddler sleep with you every night, amiright? Except that it’s really not. It’s easier at the time. But ultimately, laziness, whining,  bad attitudes, and no sleep are a hardship on everyone involved (including the whiners) and makes the inconvenience of the initial training pale in comparison. 

Not to mention that kids can be genuinely helpful. All of my kids (except Honor and–99% of the time–Theo) have been required to pitch in as we’ve organized closets, weeded, planted, swept, scrubbed trim, hauled out trash, and just generally given our house a much-needed shine-up.

honor

{This was Honor’s reaction when I told him we needed his help with the flowerbeds. #sideeye}

And, yes, there has been some fussing and complaining. But there’s been a lot more cooperation and hard work. I hadn’t told Shaun what we planned to do while he was gone (although, he knew that I would generally be working around the house to get things in shape), and the kids loved the concept of wowing Daddy with a surprise yard makeover.

Simon–who started out finding things to kvetch about–ended up being upset that he had to have any help raking and clearing our entire (very large) front yard. He wanted to be able to present Shaun with a leaf-free lawn courtesy of Simon alone. He ended up needing a little help to finish, but that idea of ownership was a huge motivation for him.

I don’t always encourage my children the way that I should, but I do try to take every opportunity to tell them how important they are to our family. Their worth is inherent, of course. But I also tell them almost daily how their help keeps a particular aspect of our household running smoothly. And they love it. They grin from ear-to-ear every time I praise their efforts.

I don’t mean to broadly generalize, but it does seem that our society has something very backward when it comes to kids and young people in general. They are handed more knowledge (much of it completely inappropriate) than they know what to do with or have the maturity to process correctly. But they are given very little responsibility or true opportunities to grow in maturity through manageable, age-appropriate tasks and goals.

What if, instead, we protected our children’s innocence while respecting their potential to contribute?

What if we trained their hearts while shielding their minds from junk and praising their authentic efforts to help?

Again, I’m far from perfect in this pursuit. But it is my goal. I want my children to honor God first with their attitudes and then be a blessing to others with the actions that follow (because just “doing the right thing” without the right heart attitude is only half the battle). And not just because it glorifies God or benefits man but also because it produces character and joy for them.

chaos

{If you’re like me, then sometimes, when bloggers claim that their house is a “hot mess,” but all you ever see are perfectly styled pictures, you think: “Yeah right. Not MY version of a hot mess, it’s not!” Well…see Exhibit A of Hot Mess Central. It definitely gets worse before it gets better. This is what happens when you empty every single kitchen drawer of its contents so that you can clean all the things}

Because I only want good for my children, but, just as hard is not the same thing as bad, easy is very often not the same thing as good.

And seeing how my children glowed when their daddy got home and gushed with pride and appreciation for how hard they’d worked only underscored just how rewarding the results of training can be.

ANYhoo, I hadn’t started this post intending to preach at you, but I hope that–if you’re in the trenches of child-training (I still am, for sure)–you’ll feel encouraged to hang in there.

My children have spent the vast majority of their spring break weeding, mulching, cleaning, and planting. And–as Ezra cheerfully proclaimed after a full day’s work–”Getting stuff done is FUN!” (Not always how he feels about it, but the fact that it’s EVER how he feels is enough to motivate me to stay the course).

flower beds1

So. Much. Progress. Want to come buy our house? ;)

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New Kitchen Updates + an Island Quandary

I was going to call this post “An Island Dilemma,” but the English major part of me knows full well that a dilemma is a decision between two bad choices, and I honestly think that all of the choices I’m about to present for your consideration are (potentially) good ones. Hence the “quandary.” (Which, to be strictly accurate, still refers to a “difficult situation,” which…this isn’t. But enough with the semantics).

So, in case you need a refresher (or never saw it), here is the inspiration board I put together for the kitchen in the new house (for someone who names everything, I really should have a name for “the new house” by now…feel free to throw some suggestions my way).

kitchen design

It’s kind of fun to look at this and see which elements have stayed the same and which have evolved. The sink is different (although still a farmhouse silhouette). The lights are different (went with these during a Black Friday sale, and they finally came last week and are lovely). The faucet is the same style but wall-mounted and in chrome. And for the hardware, I’m pretty sure I’m going with these:

knobs

FreestonePull

 

(Except they would both be the satin brass color of the knob from above).

They’re a super-reasonable price for real brass (holds up better; doesn’t discolor as easily as the zinc alloy versions), and they actually carry them locally, which is awesome because I’ve discovered that I’m pretty picky about the shades of brass that I do and don’t like (anything too green or yellow is a no-go), and these are a gorgeous soft gold in person.

Oh, and I must have had that rug embedded in my subconscious because I had completely forgotten that I’d included it on the board, and I still ended up buying this nuLOOM arrowhead design in a runner (on suuuuper sale) during Black Friday.

rug

Shaun saw this and looked confused, since I’m usually a floral girl. Not sure why I’m digging the tribal arrows so much, but…I am. So there.

The subway tile is still in the plan, as are the open shelves and wood range hood. The range actually ended up being rangeS, since I found an awesome deal on not one but TWO 30″ pro-style GE ranges with dual fuel (we wanted a gas stove and an electric oven).

Oh, and the color I’m leaning towards for the lowers is actually called Weekend from the Magnolia Home paint line. But I’ll probably just have it color matched because their paints are pretty pricey.

weekendOh! And not mentioned or shown above…but we’re 99% sure we’re going with laminate countertops in Wilonsart White Carrara with a velvet finish.

Oooookay.

Now that you’re all up to date on the minutiae of my kitchen choices, let’s get back to the quandary (dilemma…decision I have to make…whatever).

And that would be: what color to paint/stain/make the island.

Which, by the way, has turned out even prettier than I’d hoped.

island1It’s just under 12 feet long, so it’s a bit of a beast. But, as excited as I am to put her to work, what makes me a little swoony are all of the fun decorative details like those corbels, the curvy legs, and the carved panels on the ends–all of which I chose/designed not feeling entirely sure that they would turn out well together. Happily, they did! At least, I like them. So, that’s good. (And the base trim isn’t even on yet!)

Here’s a shot back towards the sink/windows.

island2And another from the other side.

island(Those drawers are removed because they forgot to include a spot for an outlet, so that’s getting fixed).

So, now that you’ve seen pretty much every angle of my kitchen island, what do you think?

Should I stain her? (That’s been the plan all along). If so, what color? (My stools and floors are both a medium oak tone, and I don’t want anything tooooo matchy-matchy).

Another good option would be white-washing, which would allow some of the wood grain to show through without committing to an actual color.

I’m disinclined to paint her, although, if I did, it would be white, since we will have white uppers, and there’s enough going on with the teal lower cabinets that I don’t need a competing color on the island.

Whatever I do to the island I’m probably going to replicate on the range hood to keep the tones in the kitchen consistent. So, this decision is a bit of a double-whammy.

Oh! And if it will help you to make an informed decision, if you scroll up and look at the side view of the island, you’ll see the stained hutch in the background, which will be against the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. The color it’s stained is a little more orange than I’m willing to go with the island, but I like the medium range it represents.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Specific stain names I should test out?

You know I love a good reader poll, so hit me with it!

 

 

 

 

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CABINETS!

I know that I haven’t shared much about our new house process here lately. I’m sure you can’t possibly guess why, since I clearly have nothing else going on in my life right now.

Ahem.

But!

Even outside of the baby-feeding and cheek-kissing that is taking precedence over house blogging, there hasn’t been too much interesting to show. We’ve been making steady progress, and Shaun still spends every spare moment out there plugging away. But, even though sheetrock and garage doors are super exciting to me, they make for fairly lame blog fodder. We have sheet rock and garage doors now. Huzzah! Consider yourself updated.

But! (again)

Cabinets?

Now, that’sprogress.

And we have cabinets, people!

Custom cabinets throughout the house were an item on the “if we had our druthers” list that I had no idea whether it would happen. We knew we’d be using the same guy who did our kitchen cabinets in our current house. He does great work, is reasonably priced, willing to negotiate, and so easy to work with.  We were planning to use him for the kitchen again and for a mudroom with custom built-in wooden lockers.  But beyond that, it was more of a wish than a plan.

Thankfully, because we’re proceeding steadily but slowly–which means that Shaun is able to again do 95% of the work–we’ve saved so much money that we were able to present the list to our cabinet guy, get a quote back, do a little haggling, and get every last door and drawer we’d asked for.

We had him do:

  • the kitchen
  • the mudroom
  • the living room built-in shelving
  • a kitchenette upstairs
  • the laundry room
  • 3 bathroom vanities
  • built-in shelving in the master bedroom
  • a lingerie chest in the master closet

And guess what? They delivered all of those gorgeous pieces last week! They’re still working on finishing the installation, but it’s enough progress that I thought it might warrant a post.

Prepare yourself for a completely unedited picture dump (because if I take the time to edit, the baby’s going to wake up before I’m done, and I’ll never get this thing posted).

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Okay, so this is not cabinets, but I found this ah-mazing 100-year-old architectural salvage post for a great price on a local Facebook swap and thought I’d share. I honestly don’t know what it was in its former life, but I’m trying to figure out a way to make it our bottom stair newel. It’s just a wee bit massive, though, and doesn’t have a top, so I haven’t quite wrapped my brain around it. I will be using this bad boy (girl?), though, because it’s just too rad to sit in somebody’s garage.

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Thought y’all might appreciate a closeup of all of the intricate carving. If you have a brilliant idea for a topper, I’m all ears.

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Hooray for living room built-ins! I actually hadn’t intended for that long horizontal shelf to be at the top of the units, but it was my fault because I sent an inspiration picture to Jeff (cabinet guy) so that he could see the way I wanted the trim and failed to specify that the rest of it should be ignored. It’s kind of a happy accident, though, because, otherwise, the shelves would have been really tall, and Shaun suggested using those long ones at the top to house my globe collection (smart man!). I’m not entirely sure the taller ones will fit, but I’ll give it a go!

Oh, and that pic above is basically a zoomed out, straight-on view of our living room (and Nola looking rather vague…told you these weren’t edited). The stairs you saw are just to the right out of the shot. The hallway to the right leads to the schoolroom, the main downstairs bath, the guest room, and Shaun’s office. The door on the left with all of that gorgeous light flooding in from the big windows is the opening to the schoolroom.

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Turning around to look back into the kitchen, this is what you’d see. To the right are the cabinets that will encase the fridge/freezer, my big NBI Drainboard Sink, and a bank of beee-you-tee-full windows! The spaces below either side of the sink are for, not one, but two dishwashers (which, of course, I managed to score for the price of one!). The big blank wall just ahead is the area behind the range and vent hood. It will have open shelving on either side of the hood as well. cabinets4

This view is from the dining room (which flows into the kitchen) back toward the kitchen. And that island is, by far, the most exciting piece of cabinetry we’ve gotten yet. I wanted it to look like a piece of furniture in its own right, so I designed those decorative panels. And it came out even better than I’d hoped. (It’s hard to tell, but the edges are routed, giving it even more detail and depth).  cabinets6

 

Another view of the island. It’s recessed there in the center to allow for stools and a counter overhang, and those drawers on the end (to the right) are two built-in trash cans (WITH built-in trash bag holders behind them! Oh, the things that make you happy when you’re an adult).

The door that you can see open behind the island leads to the mudroom, which just might be my favorite room in the house besides the kitchen.

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That view is so purdy, my friends, that just want to kiss the screen. Call us optimistic (or crazy…or over-planners…whatever), but there are 11 (!!) wooden lockers in there, complete with bottoms drawers for shoes and overhead storage for off-season items like hats, gloves, floaties, goggles, etc.

We don’t have anything like this in our current house, and I can’t tell you how excited this organizationally-challenged girl is to have a room that can hold all the things. No more backpacks hanging on the stairs. No more constant struggle to find the best place for coats and shoes. Happy, happy day!

 

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The main downstairs bath is a fun one. There will be black/white floral wallpaper on the wall you see there. The cabinets will be a moody teal with brass hardware. And we’re going with stained wood for the countertop (we’ll just seal it with Waterlox). cabinets7

Same room, from the entry angle.   cabinets10

A close runner-up for all the heart eyes in the land is the family laundry. This is the view from the door (and also gives you a glimpse into the master bath beyond). The gap beside the tall, skinny cabinet is for the stacked washer and dryer, and the skinny cabinet itself is for all of my detergents and washing paraphernalia. The two large lower cabinet “doors” immediately to the left of the washer opening are actually pull-out drawers, which will hold laundry baskets. Thank goodness for Pinterest and the endless supply of cool organizational ideas!cabinets11

 

This is the “big room.” We have one of these in our current house, with a DIY big screen and built-in cabinets. This time, we skipped the built-ins in favor of a little kitchenette for when we have guests come to stay or are hosting an event upstairs and want to make popcorn or keep drinks cold (I found the cutest little retro-styled mini-fridge in mint online at Walmart, and it will slide right into that gap on the bottom right). The kitchenette was Shaun’s idea, as was the suggestion to not close off the space above the sunroom (to the right…also Shaun’s idea, come to the think of it) and instead leave it open as a loft. I can only imagine how much fun my kids will have as teenagers having slumber parties in the loft, but we’re also hoping that it can serve as a sleeping area for guests if necessary. We definitely intend this to be a house of hospitality, and I’m excited about the prospect of housing exchange students or missionaries who are passing through or just somebody down-on-her-luck who needs a place to stay. cabinets12

This is a view of the boys’ built-in vanity. The girls’ is a mirror image on the other side of the big room. We went with built-in vanities in the bathrooms a) because they look nice and avoid the awkward gaps on either side of a non-custom-sized vanity (how “mom” am I that I care less about the look and more about the fact that those gaps are hard to sweep) and b) they’re actually cheaper a la carte (sink, faucets, countertops, etc. separately) than buying most all-inclusive units would be…but only because we’re not going with fancy countertop materials like quartz or marble. Instead, the bathroom vanity tops will either be wood or laminate. And I am A-okay with that. I will gladly forgo fancy for function (and saving money) every single time. cabinets13

This is the master bathroom vanity, which will have a shiplap accent wall and his/her sinks and mirrors, etc.

If you go out that door you can barely see the beginning of to the left, you’ll be in the master bedroom…

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…which has big, vaulted ceilings that will be planked…eventually. (My husband is not a fan of my love for planking, but he told me he would do it…if he could take his sweet time :) ).

 

 

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The master closet is to the left of the master bedroom and houses this beast of a “lingerie chest,” which is actually divided equally down the center to have drawers on both sides for my and Shaun’s socks and undies respectively. Again, I was super pleased to have a custom piece that was actually cheaper than a lot of the dressers (even on craigslist and Facebook) that I had looked at.

Aaaaand…there you have it. Phew! That was a lot of cabinets!

We tried as hard as we could to make things both pretty and practical. And, so far, it feels like we’ve succeeded. I’m sure I’ll find things I could have designed better, but with this much drawer space to work with, I’m not too worried about.

Yay for cabinets! Yay for progress! Boo for decluttering closets and getting this house ready to sell! But it must be done if I want to enjoy those cabinets.

So, off I go!

 

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Baby Brain

You know how people are always talking about the things they’re going to ask God once they get to heaven?

Well, I’m inclined to think that–once we’re there and behold His glory–we’re not going to care. We humans are so intent on thinking that this earthly world of ours is all there is–that the affairs of it are the only ones that could possibly matter. We’re so NOW that we often can’t imagine caring (or not caring) about anything else.

If it sounds like I’m about to embark on a lengthy philosophical treatise about eternity, nothing could be further from the truth.

I just wanted to establish what I REALLY think about the subject of asking God WHY before I very frivolously claim that, when I get to heaven, I intend to ask God about the phenomenon of “baby brain.”

I’m sure I won’t really.

But here on this earth, I find myself befuddled about–well, a lot of things, including where I put my phone, which was JUST in my hands (oh yeah, it’s in my back pocket ::sheepish chuckle::). But mainly, I’m curious why, after you’ve had a baby, it seems that someone has liquified your brain and siphoned it out of your ear. I mean, I get that the lack of sleep thing is a major contributing factor. That makes sense. But the rest of it? You’ve just been entrusted with a tiny human, whom you must feed, care for, and generally shield from harm, and yet you find your IQ suddenly reduced to that of a slug. Who hasn’t slept in weeks (do slugs sleep? surely). HOW are we supposed to keep a baby alive when we’re constantly walking into rooms with zero inkling of why we’re there, and there’s at least a chance we’ll try to clean our teeth with our hairbrushes if we’re not careful.

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It’s a good thing you’re cute, you little brain-sucker. Because I used to be marginally intelligent. I think. 

And the talking? It’s hopeless. This one has been the most pronounced for me this time around. As if I didn’t already have enough names to get wrong with regular old kid brain. Now, I’ve added another name, and my gray matter is in an extraordinary state of mush, which means that I stare directly at one of my children (who knows which) and intone: “Ezra! Simon! Evy! Theo! Faith! (a cat)…ugh! N-O-L-A!!!!!”

Every single time.

I called Honor “Theo” 9 times out of 10 for the first week of his life.

The other day, I explained to Simon that he needed to get a towel from the pantry to clean up a spill because I’d already put all of the dirty ones in the dishwasher. And the most astonishing thing about that scenario is that I hadn’t actually done either of those things…just messed up the nouns.

It is a genuine struggle for me to form sentences these days, people. Often to hilarious effect. Except that, usually, I have no idea what I’ve just said. My children sure are enjoying it, though.

It’s just a constant stream of: “You said, ‘dinner.’ Did you mean, ‘lunch?’” And: “You said, ‘Drink your yogurt.’ How am I supposed to do that?”

Funny, kids. Real funny. Your mother is thisclose to the insane asylum, and you’re goading her. That’s dangerous. She is the one who makes the food, after all.

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Hey look! It’s Who’s-it, What’s-it, That girl, What’s-his-name, and What’s-her-face (plus two more that I really can’t place).

And teaching fitness classes is a total lark. I have to memorize large amounts of choreography that  coordinate exactly with specific beats of specific music. And, when your brain is only functioning at 7%, that is quite a feat. Sometimes, an unmanageable one. I do all right, for the most part. But yesterday, as I was teaching BODYCOMBAT, a song started, and my brain literally stalled. And I just stood there, thinking: I don’t even know which appendage to move first. One of my participants, who practically knows the choreography better than I do, starting moving her legs, so I followed her, even though I was sure she wasn’t quite right. We did half the track before my brain finally remembered what it was supposed to be telling my body to do.

Argh.

I would say it’s embarrassing. But many of my faithfuls have been taking my classes since I was pregnant with Della, so they’re kind of used to the drill. Abbie just had a baby. Abbie will not be firing on all cylinders for a while. ::Shrug::

know I’m not alone–that baby brain is a very real thing (even if our husbands don’t believe it).

But what I want to know is: what is the funniest/worst/baby brainiest moment you’ve had as a mama?

Mine is actually kind of major. And maybe I’ll share it someday. But not right now (I know; so mean). Honor’s hungry, and the rest of the natives are getting restless.

Whatever their names are…

P.S. If you find an unusually large number of typos in this post, well, I would expect no less.

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A Month of Honor

I know this is what every mother of a newborn says every.single.time, but–well–I’m willing to be a cliche just for the chance to exclaim how ridiculous it that my seventh kid is already a month old.

Over a month, actually, because, despite my best intentions to get this blog posted last week on Thursday, when he officially completed his one month tenure on planet earth…it didn’t happen. And, yes, I know that I say that a lot. Ce la super-busy, constantly-distracted, nursing-daze vie. (And good for you if you actually deciphered that last sentence).

Honor is just the sweetest thing, y’all. I know I said the same thing about Theo on his one month “birthday” (and I would have said the same thing about the twins too if I hadn’t been too sick battling mastitis and shingles to blog when they were a month old. Yuck). And it was just as true. But in a different way. Theo is a ham. He dances. He squeals. He even does a dramatic, Hamlet-esque stagger/chest-clutch/collapse move when his brothers pretend stab him while playing swords. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen a 2-year-old do…especially since no one taught him to do it. But most of all, Theo SMILES. Almost all the time. A big, gap-toothed, cheesy grin that you can’t help but return. He’s been like that since birth, practically.

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See? Solemn as a tomb. Clearly.

Honor is different, though. Equally winsome. But, whereas Theo is the constant life of the party, Honor is thoughtful and serious.

month3

Apparently, he was digging the retro vibe at The Grove–a local restaurant with the COOLEST decor. 

 

He started smiling on Valentine’s Day (little love-bug that he is), but he literally has to work up to it. He gets bright-eyed and happy-looking. Then he wriggles his whole body, as if the smile is buried deep in his toes and needs to travel all the way up to his lips. And then, finally, after he’s cocked his head this way and that a few times, a crooked half smile emerges from a big open mouth. Once he gets going, though, it’s one smile after the other for a little while.

Shaun’s the best at extracting these hard-won smiles, followed closely by Ezra and Simon. Honor’s most content to be held by me (although, he’s a chill baby who will happily go to most anybody), but I rarely have/take the time to sit and coo at him like Shaun does (that implied that my husband has lots of free time…he doesn’t, but when he’s holding Honor, he is usually devoting his entire attention to him. I can be guilty of hauling him around with me like a sack of potatoes on one arm while I get lunch or pull laundry out of the dryer with the other).

month2

Oh, Daddy. You’re so funny. 

To say that we’re all completely smitten with Honor is probably completely unnecessary but no less true. It’s not unusual to hear an exchange that goes something like: “Mama, can I hold Honor?” And then immediately: “And me next?” Followed by: “And then me?” And: “And then ME!” And finally: “Oh man! I wanted to hold him. Now, I’ll have to wait forever!”

month

Surrounded by his fan club. 

Everybody pitches in, but the older boys, especially, are sources of genuine and constant help. They hold him while I eat. They change his diapers. They fetch clothes and dress him. They load him in his car seat and carry him to the van. If they could feed him, they would do that too.

And almost none of this is because I ask them to (although, when I do ask for help, they are very quick to respond). They just adore their baby brother and are eager to be included or in charge of anything that involves Honor. They were the same way with Theo (less so with their sisters since they were so much younger when they were born), and they still are, but there’s just nothing like a brand new little human to get everybody’s attention.

I say this, yes, to brag on my sweet sons but also to encourage you mamas of little-bitties (only) out there that this day is coming if you keep plugging at training those soft little hearts. And it is a good day, indeed.

I know not everybody is into the newborn stage, but I love it. Much more so now than in the past (that’s my mama experience talking; I know now how fleeting it is). I think I would happily have a newborn in the house at all times if I could. There’s just not much better than holding a bundle of yummy-smelling squish for cheering you up or calming you down.

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Hey, girl. Thanks for getting down on my level. How about you change my diaper while you’re here?

I love the grunts and the squinty faces they make when they stretch. And don’t even get me started on baby yawns. Even their snores are cute, for crying out loud.

Of course, I know that it helps (immensely) that I have healthy, easy-going babies who sleep well (Honor’s still holding steady at 6 hours a stretch at night, but I’m hoping he will bump that up soon). And I certainly don’t take that for granted. But babies are just cool, so that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Thank you, Lord, for Honor. We sure are tickled he’s here!

P.S. After looking at the pic of above of all 7 and then at Theo’s one-month pics compared to Honor’s, I’m starting to believe that, maybe, our kids look a bit alike. #yathink

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Mama Life Hacks {#22}: A Breast-feeding Tip to Prevent Soreness

I almost feel embarrassed to admit that I’ve gotten horribly sore (we’re talking cracking, bleeding, blistering…the works) with every single baby except Honor. After all, that must mean that–six babies in–I still couldn’t figure out how to get a good latch.

Thing was, I’d had several people–long-time midwives and lactation experts among them–confirm that there was nothing wrong with my latch. Everything was where it should be. Baby’s lips were flanged. We were good. I’ve been able to successfully feed all of my babies for a year or more (well, Ezra actually only made it to 9 months, but that child ate so. much. food that my body literally could not keep up enough supply, at which point I got pregnant, and my milk supply completely tanked), so clearly, I’m doing something right. But for the first two weeks, I’ve been in so much pain that I dreaded every single feeding.

I have several mama friends who have confirmed the same–their latches were good, and nursing was going smoothly. Except for the fact that, until calluses formed, the entire process was excruciating, every single time. Of course, I’ve also known a few friends who have never dealt with nursing soreness, regardless of how practiced or not they were, so I just figured I was among the “lucky ones.”

You know who you are: the ones who take deep breaths and hold them to stifle the screams as your baby latches (or maybe you just muffle them into a pillow…not that I would know anything about that). You stomp your feet and hunch your shoulders up to your ears until, finally, the sucking numbs the pain, and you can relax a little. At least until next time.

If this sounds familiar, then this post is for you.

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Because, for the first time in my considerable nursing career, I did NOT get sore while feeding my newborn, and it made a worldof difference in my recovery and mindset about feeding my baby in those first few weeks. 

And I have my rock star midwife, Melena, to thank for it.

Honestly, I don’t know that she would have even presumed to tell me anything if I hadn’t mentioned that fact that I dread nursing for the first bit after I have a baby (because who wants to tell a mama of so many something that she surely already knows?). But, since I did bring it up, she asked if she could show me something that had been helping her clients. And I said, OF COURSE! Honestly, I was a bit skeptical that anything would work for me and my (apparently) sensitive skin. But I was willing to give it a shot.

Thankfully, she sent me videos to show you (the first is real people, and the second is done with sock puppets, so pretty inoffensive to even the most modest) because I’ve thought about how to describe the latching process several times, and I just don’t think I can do it justice, especially for those of you who (like me) need visual aids for this sort of thing.

Here’s Video 1.

And Video 2.

The first part of the process is a different kind of position/latching method than I’ve ever used (seen in Video 2), and I honestly found it awkward and strange (I think almost anyone would). But I still did it for the first several days because I was determined to do everything I could to avoid the pain. And I believe it helped Honor to get an especially deep latch from the beginning. (I have since reverted to my usual latching method, and it works great now that I’ve got the second part of the process down).

But the second part, which isn’t featured in the videos, was the the most life-changing for me.

Once Honor had a good, deep latch, Melena had me basically slide him horizontally away from the breast on which he is latched toward the opposite breast. Not a lot. Just enough so that, instead of being directly on the nipple, the baby is, instead, slid away (as in toward the opposite arm, not down toward your navel), which redirects the nipple toward the roof of his mouth and takes all of the sucking force of off the ridge.

Oh my goodness, y’all. It’s so simple–literally a 1″ shift at most–but so effective.

As in practically no soreness (there’s a bit of a learning curve, and all it takes is a couple of minutes of sucking in a bad position to get a little bit sore, so I can’t say zero pain).

I spent the first 3 days thinking it was too good to be true. That surely the chafing and cracking were still coming. Something this easy couldn’t possibly have been the solution all along.

Or could it?

I am now convinced that it could and is the solution to my nursing angst.

I had considered sharing but wasn’t sure how many might need the info. But when I referenced this tip in passing in one of my posts and got a barrage of comments begging me to elaborate, I knew it was something that needed a blog of its own.

When I asked Melena why more people weren’t sharing this trick, she said that she was never taught this either and can’t even remember how she happened upon the videos (that I shared above) but that they just made sense to her. So, she started sharing with her clients, and they started seeing results. She also said that she knows many lactation specialists who teach that a good, deep latch–with the baby’s lips flanged–is the only factor for success, when, in fact, the positioning of the nipple in the baby’s mouth is equally (or, as I discovered for myself, MORE) important.

I so hope this helps you guys as much as it helped me. As I mentioned earlier, it completely transformed my view of nursing in the early days. I love nursing my babies once the soreness goes away. And I am determined to fight through it at the beginning to give them mama milk. But to not have to deal with it at all? It almost feels to good to be true!

Praise God for wise midwives who risk the wrath of potentially know-it-all mamas to share their wealth of knowledge!

P.S. Feel free to pass this along to any mama friends who might need to see it. I guarantee they will thank you for it.

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Strolling with Evenflo

Even though I have 7 kids, I’ve never owned a new stroller. Several new car seats, yes. But no new strollers. Which is fine. Because the secondhand versions I’ve owned have fulfilled their purposes well enough. But I’ve never loved a stroller system. Until now.

Meet the Evenflo Pivot Travel System.

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{Disregard Della’s squint o’ death; she didn’t mind the fact that I sent them out in the cold to walk their baby brother around the block for me…JK! They dressed themselves in various and sundries–pretty sure Theo has socks on his hands rather than mittens–and headed out to brave the big, bad 45 degree chill without any prompting from me}

AKA: my new BFF.

It’s different from anything I’ve ever owned before in a myriad of ways but probably the most significant is that the stroller base is just that: a base. Which allows you to pop in either the car seat…

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{Clearly the postpartum hair loss has not kicked in yet. Hello, lion’s mane}

…or the stroller bed.

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The bed can be laid flat (ideal for infants) or tilted upward for optimal viewing, especially once baby gets older (it has straps to keep him snug and safe). It also has a handy cold-weather cover, which we have happily utilized on chilly mornings.

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I love having the option to carry only the lightweight base and simply snapping in the car seat (the option I utilize the most). Most of my strollers have been unwieldy and heavy (especially the twins’ double stroller, which is a total beast), so I am loving how easy it is the toss the stroller base in the back of the van and then transfer the car seat right into it.

Speaking of the car seat, it’s my favorite!

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{Can you spot my cute photographer?}

In fact, the very day it came in the mail, Honor ended up napping in it multiple times throughout the day because it’s so well-cushioned and plush that he went right to sleep every time we laid him in it. Even though he’s a big baby for his age, he still needed an insert in our last car seat to keep his head from lolling side-to-side. The Evenflo Pivot car seat has sufficient padding to keep his little noggin in place, though, so I don’t have keep up with an insert (major bonus in my book).

Also, while our last car seat was awkward to carry in the crook of your arm and hard to release from the base, the Evenflo Pivot car seat has a wide, smooth arced handle (Shaun’s first comment was how good it felt to carry), which is easy to slip onto my arm and doesn’t bite into my skin. AND! The best part? It comes out of the base without any complicated lifting/wiggling/coaxing (can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally woken a sleeping babe wrestling with our last model).

It also includes an anti-rebound bar built into the seat base, which limits the rebound impact in a frontal car crash and keeps my baby safer.

The stroller, itself, is the easiest to maneuver that I’ve ever used. I can steer it, no problem, with one hand, which is kind of a big deal, since that’s usually how many hands I have available (because there’s always somebody else that needs me to wipe a nose or hand out sippy cups with my other one).

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{Pretty much everybody–from Ezra down to the twins–can navigate this stroller because it glides so easily}

Another plus? There’s a generous amount of space between the basket on the bottom and anything that might block it on top. It’s an easy-to-overlook perk until you find yourself trying to deposit or retrieve a bag or snacks from underneath a stroller only to have them snag hopelessly, requiring a full-stop (and an inevitable pile-up of small bodies behind you) and rummage situation.

When Evenflo (nice post sponsor!) contacted me and offered me an option of stroller systems, I took my time reading reviews and ultimately decided on the Pivot system, since I love to walk the trails near our gym with friends and wanted something that maneuvers easily and handles well on rough terrain.

I am happy to report that it does both.

Honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased with this travel system. It does what a stroller system should do–make my life easier. And while “hard is not the same thing as bad” may be my motto, I see no point in making things needlessly complicated.

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{Honor stayed snug and happy in his car seat, even though it was time for him to eat}

The Evenflo Pivot Travel System simplifies traveling with a baby, and I am a big fan of that and it.

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{Also a big fan of the car seat canopy with a peephole that my sis-in-law, Hannah, made for me}

Although Evenflo was kind enough to provide me with product, all gushing is entirely my own. 

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