All posts by blogabbie

My Mama

Yes, I realize that Mother’s Day was 5 days ago, and I let it go by without a peep pretty much (unless you count the obligatory me and my peeps–ha–photo on social media).

Such is life right now.

I was bemoaning the fact that I didn’t write a post for it and that I forgot to post about our Paint and Prose Call Her Blessed print for Mother’s Day, and Shaun said, “It’s okay. Right now, it’s not M is for Mama. It’s M is for Moving.”

Word.

But still.

This past Sunday was not only Mother’s Day but my mama’s birthday, which happens every so often when your birthday is smack in the middle of May, and I thought I should take a moment to brag on this woman.

This is my mom, Beth.

softa1

It’s no glamour shot (my choices were limited because my mom hates having her picture taken), but considering that she’s literally covered in grandbabies doing that expert Softa thing she does, it’s kind of perfect.

She is the kindest, most selfless, most servant-hearted woman I know, and I daily strive to be more like her in word and deed.

Growing up, she was one of my best friends, and that has never changed. And now, getting to see her love on my kids has unearthed a whole new level of respect and admiration for this woman who raised me and my brother with so much care.

But what makes my mama truly remarkable is that–while she has given me a shining example to follow–she had to forge her own path to motherhood.

Her own mom, while not vicious, was married to a man who was, and it drained her of intentional kindness. My mom was the middle child–the one whom her mother always told her just seemed older than her years and whom my grandmother treated as such, even when she shouldn’t have.

My grandpa, whom I remember only in shadowy half-recollections that consist of a gesture or scent (cigarettes) more than anything, was nice to my brother and me, by all accounts. But the same cannot be said of his treatment of my mom, whom he would regularly “spank” with a leather belt until he got all of his angst out over such grievous infractions as a glass of spilled milk.

It literally hurts to think of my mom being neglected and abused because she is so quick to pour herself out for her family. Her life has never been easy–still isn’t in many ways–and yet she chooses to be Jesus to me, my children, my husband, my brother’s family, and so many others day in and day out.

My mom is a quiet woman, except if you know her well, in which case she converses easily and willingly. She carries strong convictions and is passionate about truth (a trait that she passed along to me). And she doesn’t just preach it. She acts on it, regularly giving of her time, money, and other resources to numerous outreaches and ministries the world over.

For the past two years, my mom has helped me home school my kids two days a week–a mutually beneficial arrangement (I hire her) that gives my kids access to an absolute wealth of knowledge (my mom has an MA in English and History and is a born teacher; she’s even teaching my kids Hebrew).

They call her Softa (the Hebrew word for grandma–our family has always had a heart for Israel and even lived there twice), and it’s so fitting because she really is a “softie” at heart. Not to mention a worker. If there’s laundry on the couch, she folds it. If there’s a kid in the bath, she washes and dresses him. If there’s a box to be packed, she packs it.

My childhood was not privileged from a monetary standpoint (although it was in every other way). We were barely-making-it, beans-with-no-cheese-at-the-end-of-the-month, secondhand-everything poor. But my mama still chose to stay home and home school my brother and me, while my dad worked long hours, often leaving early in the morning and not getting back until after we were in bed. She scraped together enough to sew my costumes when I got the roll of Marta in our Community Theater production of Sound of Music. She put aside a few precious dollars every fall and spring so that my brother and I could play YMCA soccer and softball/baseball. She endured multiple miscarriages (but for those, our family would have been much larger), and I’m sure she was often down, but I never saw it. You could chalk that up to childish narcissism, and that would be true. But my mama is not now, nor ever has she been, a complainer.

And now that I’m grown with my own brood, she continues that record of relentless self-sacrificial love to me and my children.

She never turns me down if I ask her to keep my kids. She makes dinner for my brother’s and my family every Friday night, which is when we go pick up my three oldest kids who get to stay with her every Thursday night. She helps me redo my flowerbeds because she has a green thumb which, sadly, did not get passed along to me. The toy room at her house is beyond stuffed with everything a grandchild’s heart could desire (all bought for pennies on the dollar from some thrift store or some clearance event or another…in that way, I am my mother’s daughter).

Sometimes, I want to grab my children by their shoulders, look deep into their eyes, and tell them, “You have NO idea how blessed you are to have a Softa like her.”

I never knew any of my grandparents well, so the fact that my children have 4 living grandparents who love them (because my in-laws are fabulous as well) is an aspect of their childhood that I am beyond grateful for. I can only imagine the stories they will swap years from now as they reminisce about their times together at “Softa’s and Sabba’s” and “Grandma’s and Grandpa’s.”

My mom is the unsung hero of my life, without whom I would be a much more stressed out, clueless mess.

I know many of you do not have this kind of support system, and I truly feel for you. Because, although I know I could survive without my mom’s help, I’m sure glad I don’t have to. Not simply because I wouldn’t have the support but because I would be missing out on a cherished friendship.

So, even though I’m late in saying it, and my tired, fuzzy-brained words are far from eloquent, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to say, Happy Mother’s Day, Mama! Your example of continual giving is such a testimony of the life-changing power of Jesus’s love, and I am grateful for and love you today and every day.

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Upstairs Updates

As promised, I’m sharing some of the design decisions–mostly paint colors–that I’ve made for the upstairs of the new house.

The other day in the paint store, I heard a well-groomed woman in designer everything exclaiming to an equally well-dressed lady that, “Picking paint colors is THE WORST. I seriously need wine–or Vicodin–right now.”

And all I could think was, “First world problems.”

So, please know that when I say that picking paint colors is hard, I do not mean hard in any genuine sense of the word.

Maybe “tricky” is a better word.

Those darn color swatches look so alluring, and then you paint them on an actual wall or cabinet, and–tada–they transform from beautiful swans into majorly ugly ducklings. Not exactly what you were going for.

I’ve “agonized” (aka: spent a lot of time carrying painted boards around the house and analyzing them in different light) over various paint colors for weeks now, and I am so relieved to say that–for better or for worse–I’m done! At least with the cabinet paint colors.

In the end, I booted a couple of colors I was considering in favor of the custom paint color we currently have on our kitchen island.

kitchen island1

In case you’re wondering, it’s very close to SW Aloe, but with a less saturated green. We played around with it a fair bit to get it just right, and I like the color so much that I decided to go with it for the laundry room cabinets and the lingerie chest in the master closet. cabinets10

I had been hoping to add some wallpaper to the laundry room (pictured above), but I didn’t have a particular design in mind until I spotted a roll of this  gorgeous wallpaper at Anthropologie on a quick trip to Dallas a couple of weeks ago for Lindsay’s birthday.

floral wallpaper

It was opened and had a few smudge marks on it (obviously a return from an online purchase, since they don’t carry wallpaper in stores), so the manager discounted it 50%. Never EVER be afraid to ask for a discount–even at a high-falutin’ store like Anthro.

I love how the minty colors in the leaves will pick up the color of the paint I chose, and those big pink flowers just make me happy…which is kind of what I was going for in a room where a lot of unhappy (okay, tedious) things take place.

The master bath vanity and the upstairs kitchenette will be SW’s Modern Gray (you might remember I’m planning on painting some walls with this color at 50%, but the cabinets will be full strength). I have enough else going on in these rooms that I didn’t need a competing cabinet color.

This pic has been a longtime inspiration shot for the girls’ bathroom, so I chose SW Deep Sea Dive as their vanity color.

teal bathroom

 

Lots of elements in the girls’ actual bathroom will be considerably different, but I still love the concept of the deep blue-green + the gold accents.

deep sea dive

It’s similar to the kitchen cabinet lowers, but you can see that it’s a bit lighter and bluer in this pic.

paint

(Deep Sea Dive is the far right)

SPEAKING of the kitchen cabinet lowers, I know I’m supposed to be talking about the upstairs, but they got the first coat of paint on the lowers, and–holy wow!–I love it!

teal kitchen

The formula for Weekend (Magnolia Paint) isn’t available yet, so they had to do a color-match at Sherwin Williams. It took some trial and error, but we finally nailed it, I think.

Oh! And one more. The boys’ vanity color will be SW Privilege Green. Their vanity top is stained wood with shiplap behind the vanities, so I wanted something fresh and boyish without being too “primary colors.”

privilege green

And there you have it! Upstairs paint colors DONE. Boom. And all that.

We move 2 weeks from tomorrow, and there are still paint and tile and countertops (the concrete is a definite at this point…can’t wait to show you!) and finish plumbing and…oh goodness. I’d better stop, since I haven’t even gotten to talking about packing.

Which…is what I’m off to do.

Y’all have a wonderful Monday, ya hear!

 

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Amazon Warehouse Deals + Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Whereas I bought almost of all of my deals in person for the house we currently live in (I feel like such a dinosaur saying this, but internet home shopping sites weren’t nearly as much of a thing almost 10 years ago when we started building), I’ve gotten the preponderance of lights, sinks, faucets, rugs, and even furniture for the new house from sites like Joss and Main, Overstock, Wayfair, etc.

I would say that nothing beats a good Craigslist or Facebook swap deal (because thrifting will forever have my heart), but, while I’ve scored my fair share of those too, some of my online clearance finds have been even better (brand new) than some secondhand options I’ve seen. (Not to mention how convenient it is to search for a specific item rather than being at the mercy of someone’s purging whims).

I’ve already shared my tips for finding the best deals online, but what I had yet to discover when I wrote that post was an awesome little thing called Amazon Warehouse Deals. (And, no, this is not a sponsored post, but I do include affiliate links).

I don’t remember how I first stumbled upon it, but since I did, I have scored some pretty sweet deals— from a major discount on Honor’s Moses basket to a $60 chair (brand new) that is currently selling for $340 to a $17 lamp that is still available for $140!

Even if you’ve never heard of it, you’re probably already more familiar with Amazon Warehouse Deals than you think because, if you’ve ever shopped for something on the site and seen the words, “used from $_____,” underneath the item’s description, then that’s a warehouse deal.

Basically, these are open box items–some of which come perfectly packaged and pristine and others which have a scratch or two but are otherwise in great condition (it will tell you the condition in the description of the item so that you know what you’re getting into before you check out). I have only bought things described as being in “very good” condition, and they all have been at least that.

The best part is that they now have an actual entry in the drop-down menu called Amazon Warehouse Deals, so now, instead of looking for the “fine print” below specific items one at a time, you can search for “tufted chair” or “polka dot comforter” or “kitchenaid mixer” or “meat thermometer”–whatever you want!–and it will show all the deals they have for those terms. There’s no guarantee there will be a deal, but it’s definitely worth checking before paying full price.

amazon

ANYhoo, I know Mother’s Day is only a few days away, and I’m sure all of you fine folks have had your Mama/Grandma/Daughter gift all lined up for weeks (ahem), but in my Amazon Warehouse Deal research, I stumbled upon a couple of deals that were too good not to share, so I whipped up a quick little gift guide (shhhhh…nobody has to know they were on clearance).

AND they all come with free 2 DAY shipping if you’re a Prime member.

1. These rain boots are thee cutest.

I don’t have a pair, personally (although…the ones with the bees are, um, the bee’s knees) but Lindsay does and LOVES hers.

They can be a bit pricey, but if you click the link above, it should take you to several clearance options (limited sizes, but maybe you’ll luck out!). If you don’t see a price immediately, click on the yellow button to the right that says “see all buying options.”

2. I’ve never made it a secret that I love Rifle Paper Co. products, and I think they make fabulous gifts (because what girl doesn’t like pretty and useful?).

Like this gorgeous address book.

Or this fun recipe box!

(Look for the “used from $______” I was talking about for the cheapest option).

Or the ultimate, Mother-Daughter tale: Little Women!

3. I know most of us aren’t going to be buying anybody a Kitchenaid Mixer, but all three of the color options here are really great deals for a new 5 quart professional series. Some of my mom’s friends and I went in together to buy her one for her 60th a few years ago, and it was a fun gift to give!

4. And while we’re on kitchen appliances, I got a rice cooker for both my mom and my sister-in-law as part of their Christmas gifts last year, and they both love theirs! This one has great reviews and is $20 cheaper than anywhere else on the internet.

And this one, while considerably smaller, is only $13 (again, don’t forget to look for the “used from $______” because the original price doesn’t say $13).

5. It’s hard to find better smelling candles that come in prettier packages than the Capri Blue brand.

Don’t be scared off by the $37 list price. The “used” (not used at all, just repackaged) version is only $16. But hurry! It looks like there are only a few left at that price.

6. I realize it could be dangerous to buy pillows for someone else, but I have recovered an ottoman and two lampshades in this Waverly Santa Maria fabric (albeit in a different colorway) and can personally attest to how gorgeous it is. And $25 is an amazing deal for TWO big throw pillows covered in a designer fabric!

7.  These Ray Bans are considerably cheaper than the retail price. I still love mine, and they are still the only pair of sunglasses that I’ve kept up with for 2 years.

I could keep coming with the great deals, but I think you get the idea. Amazon Warehouse Deals is the bomb!

And now, I will leave you to do your own deal browsing because the appraisal finally came through on our house, which means I can officially start packing! Yip-to-the-ee! (Sort of serious. Sort of not).

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Downstairs Updates (Paint and stain and wallpaper, oh my!)

Welp.

The big push to move into the new house by May 30 is well underway, and…it’s going…great! Truly. I had to think about that for a second but really only to analyze whether I am missing something obviously stressful. Because it really has gone about as smoothly as it possibly could, all things considered.

When we first sat down two weeks ago and decided to go for it, Shaun wrote out a timeline that involved our (mostly his) doing practically every last thing left on the list. And it filled up every free moment of every day from here til the 30th.

By the grace of God, Shaun found himself standing behind a mill work guy (trim, cabinets, etc.) in Lowe’s about 6 weeks ago, so he struck up a conversation with him, and the guy had time to come see our house and give us a quote on the spot. Considering how spotty our experience with hiring out work has been up to this point, we couldn’t be more pleased with Cesar’s work. He’s honest and meticulous. Not particularly fast but a hard worker who does the job right. And he’s been putting all of the trim in for the past month or so. Which is a huge deal because there’s a lot of it, and Shaun was dreading doing the planked ceilings (he would have done a great job, but it would have been a serious chore for one man and would have set us back weeks).

trim

 

{The wainscoting and trim will all be bright white, but that exposed section of wall above will be covered in Daydream Wallpaper in Green}

Anyway, Cesar has been a lifesaver after subbing out almost nothing else up to this point. Also, Lindsay’s husband, Tim, just happens to have a paint company (we’ve used them in the past), and they just so “happened” (thank you, Lord!) to have availability the first two weeks in May. Which is awesome because we weren’t sure they would, and Shaun was including painting all of the ceilings, downstairs cabinets, and trim on his list of things to do himself before the 30th (because we can’t have all of the oil paint fumes downstairs while we’re living in it).

I decided on stain for the island to ground all of the white in the room, and Tim’s crew did an amazing job of custom mixing a color that killed all of the red/orange tones that I kept coming up with when I was testing stain colors on my own (seriously, after seeing the end result, I am so grateful they were available; I would have gotten it done, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as pretty, and I think I would have made a lot of mistakes).

stained islnd

Of course, having two crews in our house doesn’t mean we’re not in there too. We’ve been out there every evening puttying, caulking, cleaning, and–my biggest job–picking paint colors. We fall into bed pretty exhausted (the kids are loving getting to stay up late…until 7 AM rolls round, that is).

Not surprisingly (at ALL), I’ve been testing out every shade of blue-green I can get my hands on.

paint

All three of these were contenders for the kitchen cabinets, but I’m sticking with Weekend (Magnolia Paint)–far left.

So far, I’ve narrowed it down to these:

Upper kitchen cabinets: Simply White (Benjamin Moore)

Apparently, it was the BM color of the year for 2016. Whatever that means. All I know is that I got a bunch of white samples, and Simply White is the one that didn’t skew too cold (blue) or warm (yellow) and was still bright and fresh no matter what light it was in.

Actually, all of the white surfaces in the house, minus the trim (which will be standard super bright white), will be Simply White.

simply white

(According to Pinterest, the walls of this image are Simply White).

Lower kitchen cabinets: Weekend (Magnolia Paint)

For how popular Fixer Upper is, it’s actually really hard to find a picture of her paints in use (other than stock photos); this is the only example of a cabinet painted in Weekend that I could scare up.

weekend1

I would say that, in my kitchen, the color is a bit deeper and less green, but–you know–everybody’s monitor, not to mention, house lighting, is different, so all I really know is that I love it!

Downstairs bath cabinets – Underseas (Sherwin Williams)

This is such a pretty, moody teal that I want to use on all kinds of surfaces in my house (and I just may), but I’m pretty sure that I want it in the downstairs main bath. It definitely looks a bit lighter/greener in the below pic than it reads in my house (so weird how much color can vary), but I still love it!

underseas

via

I had planned to use my black and white Oh Joy Petal Pusher wallpaper that I scored for $30 in this bathroom, but then I tried this Peonies design in there (a $40 score), and I think it’s meant to be. peonies

 

{Underseas is the bottom right drawer, in case you were wondering}

I’m thinking I’ll probably use the black and white wallpaper on the wall behind the vanity of the downstairs half bath (Shaun told me the other day that I was amassing quite a few wallpapering hours in my future, but I figure if he can, oh, frame an entire house, I can surely paper a few walls).

Mudroom Cabinets – Parakeet Pete (PPG Paints)

parakeet pete

That awesomely chippy mint door leads to my pantry, and the yawning abyss to the right of it would be the mudroom. The cabinets in there will be painted Parakeet Pete, yet another shade of blue-green that will pick up on the tones in the pantry door (if you scroll up and look at the bottom left drawer of the bathroom pic, that’s Parakeet Pete).

Living Room Built-in Cabinets – Modern(ist) Gray (Sherwin Williams)

fireplace

You can see at least a part of the built-ins on either side of the fireplace in this shot (what you CAN’T see is the ingenious hidden drawer that Shaun built into the ship lap to squirrel away all of our cords). Originally, I had thought to paint them the same white as the ship lap, but there’s already a lot of white in this room, so I’m planning to paint them Sherwin William’s Modern Gray (or Modernist…I’ve got a sample that says “Modern” and a sample CARD that says “Modernist”) for a subtle pop of color.

modernist

 

It’s definitely a warm gray.

And there you have it!

The walls will all be Simply White or Modern(ist) Gray at 50% strength, depending on the room.

I’ll share the upstairs colors a bit later this week, but for now, I’m off to teach science. What do you think of the progress so far? I’m beyond excited to see how it’s all coming together, but I only have to consider the possibility of moving in 3 weeks to get a bit of a nervous knot in my stomach. We have a LOT to do in the next 21 days!

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Dig Deep

I do not tend toward depression.

Now, before you think, “Gee, thanks for the update, Abbie. But…why…are we talking about this?” I have a point.

I needed to get that first part out of the way to establish where I am coming from as a personality.

I am a pragmatist. I’m not a huge planner or dream-chaser. I’m a day-to-day-er. I balance on a fine line between doubting that anything “big” will ever happen and believing that all of the everyday stuff is probably going to be just fine.

I don’t have huge emotional mood swings as a general rule. For better or for worse, I am fairly consistently…ME.

With all that said, I’m no robot. I have feelings and lots of them. And sometimes, those feelings are “down.”

The other day, I had dinner with a friend whom I consider an equally even-keeled sort. Not overly emotional. Not prone to high highs or low lows.

But then, she said this: “So…do you ever just get so depressed that you don’t even want to be a mom anymore? Like that you’ve messed up so many times or are just too tired to keep going?”

Now, this friend of mine is a good mama to two sweet little boys. She is patient and kind with them. She stays home with them all day while her husband often works long hours, and she doesn’t complain…to me anyway. Her confession surprised me because she “doesn’t seem the type” (I think we would find that we are all “that type,” if we’re willing to be vulnerable enough to admit it).

I must have hesitated a little too long when she asked me this because she quickly blurted, “You don’t, do you? Yeah. I didn’t think so. That doesn’t seem like you. Never mind.”

She’d misunderstood my pause, though. I hadn’t NOT answered because I couldn’t relate. Instead, my mind had been running back over the many times I’ve felt exactly how she was describing.

I admitted as much in this post.

Most notably, after the twins were born, I experienced what I now realize was at least a mild version of Post Partum Depression.

For months, I struggled to put one foot in front of the other. You wouldn’t have known it from the outside. I was still doing all of the things–breastfeeding twins, part-time homeschooling Ezra and Simon, reading to Della, making lunches and dinners, changing diapers, teaching fitness classes, blogging, laughing at my husband’s jokes.

But I had no joy.

My favorite day of the week by about a million is Sunday. I’ve said it before. I love worshiping with my family in the morning, eating lunch with my family when we get home, taking a nap as a family in the afternoon, then eating dinner together and watching a movie as a family in the evening. Sunday for me is a mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional sigh of relief.

But I can remember standing in my kitchen on a Sunday evening chopping vegetables as my three oldest children played on the living room rug with my husband and the twins napped forehead to forehead–a scene that would have normally filled me with an enormous sense of contentment–and feeling…Bleak. Sad. Despondent.

Like this vast black hole had opened up and sucked in all of my ability to appreciate goodness.

I told my friend all of this–that I had experienced this with the twins and that I have had other, less significant bouts of it at other times. And she said: “So, what do you do? When you feel like that, how do get out of it?”

And I told her what my mom always told me when my hormones got the better of me as a teenager, and she caught me indulging in an episode of adolescent ennui at its finest.

“Dig deep in the Lord. When you are down, lean into him.”

Ugh. Even as a Christian since an early age, I didn’t love that advice when I was 16. I remember thinking: “C’mon, Mom. Surely you’ve got something more practical than that to offer. Where’s the offer to take me shopping or buy me a pint of Rocky Road?”

Of course, almost 20 years later, I know that my mom–who does struggle with despondency sometimes and had a mother who couldn’t get out of bed many mornings–was teaching me something so much more profound than “eat your feelings.”

Ice cream (or wine or chocolate or movies or girls’ nights out or new clothes) will only numb the ache for a day at most.

But digging deep into the Lord, crying out to him, meditating on his promises, memorizing them, taking the time to wallow–not in our sadness–but in the knowledge of his love (even if we don’t *feel* it at the time) has lasting benefits that go beyond even just pulling us out of our current funk.

I’m not saying it’s a quick fix or a bandaid or a magic cure.

In Matthew 5, Jesus does not say: “Blessed are those who are happy all of the time.” Instead, he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.”

It sounds like he knew a thing or two about being downhearted. And about empathy.

Psalm 34:18 promises that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” But it does not say whenhe does. In other words, as much as I would have loved to have enjoyed every moment of the twins’ infancy, when the Lord did pull me out of my depression four months later, I could still see his hand in all of the times he had said, “Wait,” instead of, “Yes,” in response to my pleas for relief.

Nehemiah 8:10 says: “The joy of the Lord is our strength,” but I think that verse is often misunderstand. People think it means the “happiness,” the “emotional high,” the “giddiness” of the Lord is our strength.

But I’m inclined to believe–based on the context of that passage and what I have learned from personal experience–that the joy of the LORD is nothing like the joy of humans. That it is a rock-solid confidence in his goodness and faithfulness rather than a fleeting emotion.

Romans 15:13 says: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Emphasis mine).

If that doesn’t sound like my mom’s admonition to “dig deep in the Lord,” I don’t know what does. As you believe in him. That you may overflow with hope. 

Maybe you are struggling right now because the Lord wants you to lean more heavily on him than you’re willing to when everything is hunky-dory. Maybe your sadness now is preparing you to overflow with hope into a fellow mama in the future when she tells you that she’s miscarried…again. Maybe your current depression is a reminder to pray for those who are likewise poor in spirit.

I don’t know.

But I “am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philipians 1:6.

He’s not done with us yet, friends. Our current struggle does not define us. And it is for our good.

Because hard is not the same thing as bad.

So, if you ever feel like my friend and I do about motherhood (or anything else), dig deep. Push your roots down deep into the fertile soil of God’s word and love for you. It may be months or even years down the road before you witness the fruit of your digging, but it will come. That much, I can promise you.

Disclaimer: I am in no way discounting those who chronically struggle with depression, nor am I trying to be glib in any way. I hope you can read my heart of encouragement and true empathy here.

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Master Bedroom + Master Bathroom Reveal + a Life Update

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally (f-i-n-a-l-l-y) edited some of those long-promised pics of the house that I took when we were getting it in perfect order to sell. And today, I’m showing you two rooms that I don’t think I’ve ever officially revealed on the blog–the master bedroom and master bathroom. Normally I do lots of detailed shots, but this time, I just went with a few quick wide-angle shots to give you an overall impression because I was literally photographing the entire upstairs in a 30 minute window.

master bedroom

(Are you shocked to discover that our bedroom is colorful just like the rest of my house? Yeah, I didn’t think so).

By the way, in case you’re wondering, although I’m no longer spending 2 hours a day making sure every little house “I” is dotted and “T” is crossed, both the kids and I have been working hard at picking up after ourselves, even in the midst of this super busy season, and–combined with all of the decluttering we did–it’s still pretty easy to keep the house decent with medium-ish effort. It’s giving me hope for the future. Not that I didn’t clean before. I did. Every day. But with extra “stuff” in this room or that, my brain never felt completely relaxed when it came to my house. I could function. I could ignore it. But I couldn’t ever get easy with it.

master bedroom2

(I’m going to be sad not to take that blue beast of a dresser with us. It holds a ton; and that gray tufted chair was an incredible steal from Amazon Warehouse Deals, considering that I got it for $60, and it’s currently selling for $350!)

Which brings me to a question that so many people have asked me: “So, when you say that you sold your house ‘fully furnished,’ what does that mean exactly? Are you literally taking nothing?”

No, not nothing.

I’m taking all of my decor (minus rugs and curtains) because it doesn’t make much sense to leave stuff that is special to me or our family like the pretty books I’ve collected over the years. But I’ve mostly got it paired down to my absolute favorite things–things that make sense in the new house and for which I’ve already mentally picked out a spot. The rest I’ve sold, given to friends, donated, or will get rid of before we move.

master bedroom1

 

(I love curtains. Always have. Because I love fabric. So, you might be surprised to know that there are very, very few rooms in the new house that will be getting curtains, mostly due to non-traditional heights or angles for a lot of the upstairs windows and a desire to keep things as light and open as possible downstairs)

Also, as far as furniture, I’m taking my Anthro clearance dining chairs because 1) only 3 of them are at my current house (the rest are at the new house waiting to be reunited with their sisters) and 2) they are bigger and more substantial/comfortable than any other metal dining chair I’ve managed to find anywhere else. I’m also keeping my (Craigslist) cowhide rug, my (Craigslist) coffee table, a (secondhand, Facebook swap) Anthro dresser, and a cool set of vintage lockers (from a friend) I can’t really hope to replace.

Everything else stays.

In other momentous news, Shaun and I went through a day-by-day timeline tonight for the next month. We close on May 30th (assuming the appraisal goes off without a hitch), and, just tonight, Shaun lobbed the rather preposterous-sounding possibility of moving into the new house as soon as we close by me.

At first, I was like, “Nah ah, honey. Ain’t no way.”  Southern for: “Boy, you MUST be crazy.”

master bathroom1

 

(What does it say that my first thought about this room is: “That’s where I had Honor!”)

But then we literally combed through every task we have remaining one by one and decided that IF we don’t about a) concrete floors or b) exterior paint or c) two finished bathrooms or d) all of the light fixtures being in or e) the stairs being done or…*insert several other totally non-crucial things like–oh–any semblance of grass or outdoor order*…

We could, feasibly–by working really hard from here until May 30th–skip moving into our rental and go straight to the new house.

So, as nutty as it sounds, that’s the plan currently. Lord willing. Because only he knows how this will actually go down. Of course, the nice thing is that, if we totally bomb, or even if we only miss our deadline by a hair, we have the rental house there waiting for us. Even if it is only 1,200 sq. ft., not 1,500 like I originally said (I don’t care, but Shaun was adamant that I understand this so as not to be disappointed if we moved in…because, apparently, his confidence in my ability to judge a house’s square footage with my naked eye is rock solid).

master bathroom

 

(You know your design sensibilities have shifted a bit when you used to worry about the pull on your vanity mirror not matching the rest of your metals, and now, you’re planning on intentionally mixing three different metal finishes in one space). 

So! That’s where we stand. Exciting things like trim and planked ceilings and rad doors and awesome $100 vintage pianos the likes of which I’ve been searching for for 5 years and paint color decisions and other furniture deals are happening right and left, along with all of the regular real life. (I’ll do an update post with photographic proof of the progress soon). And I’m not even sure which way is up sometimes. But it’s good.

The Lord is oh-so-faithfully unfolding this story of ours bit by bit, and–I can’t believe I’m saying this–I don’t even feel overwhelmed, except by his incredible goodness and loving kindness. That’s God, y’all. Because, without him, I would be a stressed mess.

master bathroom2

(There’s a toilet closet to the left there, but I figured I’d spare you that view). 

Oh! And one more little design tidbit. We’ve decided to go with white concrete countertops for the kitchen. I know I’ve talked through practically every single option under the sun here, but Shaun thinks he can do a bang up job (I have utter confidence in that amazing man), and, with the ability to customize our length, we won’t have to lose the foot of island we would have had to with quartz, so–deep breath–that’s the direction we’re headed.

Phew! Y’all would be surprised how many times a week I think: “Man! I need to blog that. So-and-so would love that.” But it just hasn’t happened until now. So, I apologize for the word + info vomit, but I appreciate again y’alls understanding and support.

For those of you praying, please pray for guidance, supernatural energy, peace, productivity, and NO sickness (I’ve had a cold for the past week that has been dragging at me, but I think I’m on the mend). More specifically, please pray that we make our moving deadline. I have utter peace that, whether we do or don’t, everything will be juuuuust fine. But it would be great not to have to move twice.       master bedroom3

 

Because why not end the post with a cute shot of Honor scrunching himself into the bottom of his bassinet as he wakes up from a nap?

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Because he first loved us…

I posted this blog a year ago on the day after Easter, but it came to mind again when I recently received an email from a sweet reader who said she kept coming back to it over and over again and wanted to know more about how to know Jesus. Which thrills my heart like nothing else. Being even a small conduit for the gospel is such a honor, and I absolutely love to hear from readers–both Christian and seekers alike. 

So, I thought I’d post this again, since it is once again the Monday after Easter.

Cool side note: the woman that I mention at the end of the original post is now my real-life friend and came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ in September of 2016 after messaging back and forth with me for months. I had the distinct privilege of talking her through a prayer of salvation over the phone. The Lord is not done with her (or any of us) yet, but it is amazing to see the changes for good that he has already made in her life. 

Again, if you have any questions about how to have a relationship with Jesus or just need someone to pray for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

We recently started attending a new church. By recently, I mean back in January. Since January, we’ve only gone half a dozen times or so–one of which was yesterday for Easter Sunday.

The reason for our poor church attendance record is twofold: 1) we’re in an unusually busy season of life right now (I’ll share more about that soon), and Shaun has had to work every single weekend other than his birthday and Easter for the last 3 months and 2) it took me a while to work up the gumption to take six kids to church by myself. (We actually really enjoy “doing church” at home where we can listen to Ravi Zacharias’ sermons and dance to worship music).

When we finally did get our act together, the kids were the most excited about one thing: the prospect of being ferried to the front door on one of the golf carts that patrol the parking lot (it’s not a huge church, but the parking lot extends a ways from the building itself).

Sure enough, by the time we had all tumbled out of Nina the Nissan, there was a cart idling by our van, driven by a beaming older man with a crisp part in his silver hair and dressed in a sweater vest, sharply pleated trousers, and shiny loafers.

The kids clambered on, jabbering and giggling. But I was less enthused. I’m used to drawing stares everywhere we go, but while I don’t think much of it anymore, I don’t tend to choose ways to be more conspicuous. And a woman by herself arriving at the front door on her “chariot” with 6 little kids in tow seemed about as subtle as using a sledgehammer to crack a pecan.

But, like it or not, the next week, our chariot driver was waiting for us again, still smiling, still dressed to the nines, still graciously chatting with my children. He exuded an old-world gentlemanly Southern charm the likes of which I rarely encounter these days.

He told us his name is Chip, and he didn’t ask me where my husband was or if I “know what causes all these here kiddos” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Instead, he just told me in the most serious of tones what a good job I was doing as a mama and how precious he thought my kids were. He assured me that he would be on the lookout for us after church.

Y’all. I (a non-cryer) teared up right then and there on that golf cart and had to hide my face in Evy’s hair as she sat on my lap. That kind of unexpected kindness and respect just undid me for a moment.

True to his word, Chip zoomed up the second we exited the building after church that day and cheerfully carted us to our van.

And just like that, one man’s being Christ to a mama and her six ducklings transformed a daunting experience (taking six kids to church by myself) into one to look forward to.

In fact, the next week, when the golf cart driver wasn’t Chip, we were all a little disappointed. Until, of course, the driver said, “You have six?” I nodded, unsure where this was going, but he just grinned and said, “Me too! You don’t see that too often. Good for you, Mama! You’re doing a great job!”

Even in Christian circles, such positive responses to a large family are rare. And much-appreciated. (People aren’t usually unkind. Just surprised or amused).

easter2016

Then, yesterday, as all eight of us tramped our way to church together from the “you only got here 10 minutes early on Easter Sunday when you should have been here an hour ago” overflow parking, we saw Chip directing traffic. He spotted us too and called out: “Hey! There are my favorite kiddos!”

I smiled and waved and nudged my husband with a whispered, “That’s Chip.” (You better believe he had already heard these stories). But I didn’t think much of Chip’s “favorite kids” claim until we encountered yet another friendly greeter at the door, who introduced himself to us, surveyed our kids, and said, “Now, you must be the family that Chip loves so much!”

My mouth just about dropped open, y’all.

Chip wasn’t just being polite.

I delivered my kids to their Sunday school classes with the goofiest of grins and whispered admonitions to be extra kind to Mr. Chip on our way back to the car.

So, why the sudden need for story time?

Because it’s the Monday after Easter, and quite honestly, I think it’s a little too easy to come off of the “high” of all of that celebration–the joy of Jesus’ resurrection, the 3 day weekend, the candy buzz–and feel a little deflated.

Like, ho hum, it’s just another Monday. Nothing miraculous about this at all.

I can only imagine that’s not how the disciples felt the day after Jesus revealed himself to them.

Or maybe it was at first.

Maybe, when they awoke, their first thought was one of sadness: Jesus is dead. All of our hopes are crushed.

But then a slow, fuzzy realization began to dawn, gradually solidifying into one crystal clear, glorious thought: NO! He’s alive! He rose from the dead! This changes everything.

Or at least, it should. It should transform how we speak to our children and our husbands, how we respond to the person who cuts us off in traffic, how we treat the mama with her kids who rides on our golf cart. How, when, and with whom we share the gospel (good news!) of Jesus’ paying the penalty on the cross for our sins.

Because that’s ultimately what Chip and the other men who showed us kindness are demonstrating with their actions: that the death and resurrection of Jesus are wonderfully meaningful–not just on Easter weekend–but every other day of the year.

The knowledge of the debt we owe and the Savior who paid it should motivate us to surprise others with our joy, our kindness, and our love.

When my brother fell off of his roof, I was so struck by how fleeting life is that I extended a virtual “altar call” on social media to anyone who wanted to learn more about how to dedicate their lives to Jesus. Honestly? I didn’t expect anyone to respond. People usually don’t unless they know you well. I just felt the need to do it anyway.

But someone did. And that lady and I have been writing back and forth for about two weeks now. This woman has endured a lot of abuse and suffering in her life and is very confused about who Jesus is, so I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me when, at one point she asked, “Why are you doing this? What makes it worth it to you to keep writing me? I want to make sure I can repay you.”

At first, I kind of panicked because I thought, I don’t want anything from you except for you to find your way out of the despair that has been blackening your life and find hope in Christ. How-with your history–can I possibly make you believe that?

But then, this phrase popped into my head: “We love because he first loved us.”

It’s from 1 John 4, which has a lot to say about godly love and how we show it to others. But these are the words that I quoted to her:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannotlove God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:18-20)

It’s that simple. “While were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And because of that unconditional love, which we celebrate with great joy at Easter, we are–if we have confessed our sins and accepted his salvation–enabled to extend that same love to others.

Every day and everywhere.

So, that is my hope for myself and you too on this, the not-so-special Monday after a special weekend. May we celebrate the joy of Easter year-round by being like Chip, who is, in turn, being like Jesus. Because Jesus first loved us.

And if you don’t know Jesus’ love or have questions about how to accept him as your personal Lord and Savior, please don’t hesitate to email me at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com. I would love to chat with you.

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The House that God Sold

When Shaun first floated the idea of our building another house from scratch by me–oh–3ish years ago, I was initially very resistant. I thought he was crazy. At that point, we were only 5 years removed from our first building experience, which, while successful and not nearly as stressful as you might imagine for doing it all ourselves, was a LOT of work. Plus, at that point, I had 1-year-old twins, was pregnant with Theo, and was homeschooling 3 other fairly small children, and it all just sounded…hard.

I mean, what was wrong with our current house? Short answer: nothing. And that still holds true. It’s a great house! And we love it! But Shaun just kept his eye open for land, checking out different email alerts as they came through. None in our price range were that tempting, though. Usually, if the land was a good deal, it was located across from a rundown mobile home park or had little privacy or was designated by more than half as a flood plain.

But then, this property in a little community 10 minutes from us popped up one day. The price for the area (which is growing rapidly and shooting up practically daily in price) was fantastic. And, after checking out the land, Shaun was optimistic. So, I went out and had a look. And, from the moment that I drove down the first long stretch of “driveway” and it opened up into a verdant bowl surrounded by layer upon layer of trees that climbed ever higher up a steep hill that curved around the edge of the property like a big green hug, I knew it had potential. Lots of potential. Plus, it was 10 minutes closer to the town to which we drive almost daily.

This is going to sound strange–especially since I can’t completely put my finger on what made these words pop into my mind–but when I first saw the property, I thought: “Jurassic Park.” Something about the bowl-like park feel to the center section, and the intense greenness of everything surrounding it. Thankfully, minus giant carnivorous reptiles.

And so the story of what I have hashtagged on social media #mifmbuildsagain began.
And it’s no short story. Instead, it’s a bit more like a War and Peace length tome. We bought the land 2 years ago in February, and we’ve been plugging away at either prepping it for the new house or actually building it ever since. In some ways, the process has been similar to our first build as Shaun (and often his dad) have done everything from clearing to framing (so. much. framing) to siding to electrical to plumbing, and so much more. And I have held down the fort at home and hunted for deals on everything from ceiling fans to shower heads.

In other ways, it’s felt different. The pace is much slower. The house is bigger. And even though Shaun has worked almost every single weekend (Saturday, at least) since the beginnning, I don’t feel like I never see him like I did the first go-round. Also, I have more specific architectural things in mind that I have time to hunt down (my favorite details of the house so far are several vintage doors and that giant carved post thingy that I blogged about a while back).

We have 3 and 1/2 times as many kids this go-round, and pretty soon, the kids and I will get to take a more active roll in some of the finishing chores (like caulking, puttying, sanding, cleaning, painting, staining, etc.). And the boys (and even Della) have already spent many a Saturday hauling trash, carrying boards, and vacuuming sawdust. It’s been a family effort, for sure. (Although to say that Shaun and his dad have done the lion’s share of the manual labor would be the world’s biggest understatement). I am happy that my older kids will get to look back on this process and remember what it was like to contribute and get their hands dirty.

And then, for the last 6 weeks, the focus has shifted from the new house to our getting our current one ready to sell–as I’ve already mentioned. (Our house was already sold, and we were renting from my parents while building our first house).

Which brings us to now. We have 3 months left before the new house is move-in ready (we hope), but we decided to go ahead and list our current house because interest rates for loans are rising, and the spring (with the end of the school year) is when so many people are looking to move.

We debated whether to engage a realtor or just try to sell it on our own to begin with, but when a friend recommended a realtor who works for an extremely reasonable flat rate fee, it seemed like a no-brainer to let her take care of the showings.

Plus, if we had contact with the buyer before we signed with her, and they didn’t have a buying agent, we wouldn’t have to pay that 3%. Score!

So, I announced it here on the blog and on social media and proceeded to spend a couple of days fielding over 50 messages (I just about wore out the “copy + paste” combo on my keyboard).

One of those messages came through my Facebook page (for the blog), and before I knew it or we had even signed anything with a realtor, Shaun and I were showing Jessica, her husband, Scott, and their 4 cute kids around our house.

That showing went well, but, since they’d had to come after dark, they decided to schedule another one for the following Tuesday during the day. We went ahead and signed with our realtor, and the MLS listing went live on Monday night. But I held off sharing it anywhere in hopes that Jessica’s family would want to buy it. I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to say that I “had a feeling,” but…I had a feeling.

And peace. Always perfect peace. I didn’t know what would happen or how long our house would take to sell, but I didn’t feel anxious about it at all, and I was already so grateful for the Lord’s guarding my heart against unnecessary stress.

For over a year, we’ve been praying that the Lord would bring the perfect family to buy our house. That they would be as blessed by living on our beautiful property as we have been and that they would fully enjoy all of the love and sweat we’ve poured into our home.

On Wednesday, I texted Jessica and asked what they thought of the property, and she said they loved it (well, actually, what she said was that they LOVED it!!!). Scott was just waiting on confirmation from the Lord that this was the direction for their family, since they hadn’t even been actively looking for a new place to live when they saw my Facebook announcement.

Turns out, Jessica hadn’t been a blog-reader (as I had assumed) but had simply seen the post shared or commented on (she couldn’t remember which) by a friend and decided to at least get more information, since they’ve had their eye out for property in the country (at least casually) for a while.

I mentioned in a post last week that, when they came that first night, Jessica and I had kind of danced around the idea of their buying the house fully furnished (after she joked about my needing to come decorate for her if she bought it, and I basically said, “Um, I think I already did”). So, on the following Thursday (this past one), when she texted to ask if they could come over to discuss the furniture situation, I was hopeful. So hopeful. But still not anxious.

We invited them for lunch on Friday, and we had a lovely time eating on the back patio, swapping backgrounds, and watching the kids play with our kittens.

And then, while I mixed up a batch of chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen, we got down to business. Ultimately, they decided to buy our house, fully furnished, for a little less than our original asking price. Which we were thrilled with since a) we didn’t have to show the house anymore b) they weren’t bringing a buyer’s agent, so we didn’t automatically lose that 3%, and c) we now don’t have to move practically any furniture.

In other words, our house sold in one week to the first and only people who looked at it for a great price, and the buyers are keeping everything from the rugs to the curtains to the sofas.

To say that I am flabbergasted by God’s lavish goodness is barely a drop in the deluge of gratitude and thanksgiving that has been washing over my heart these past few days. Elation. Joy. Celebration. Wonder. It’s all there.

And then, as if to further emphasize that it was He who was orchestrating this deal, they told us that the only furniture they didn’t need was the girls’ bunk beds, which I had been hoping to keep so that I could give them to my mom (since she keeps our kids so regularly).

Not only that, but they decided to buy our tractor (yep, we have a tractor…but will no longer need it, since the new property has considerably less mowing than our current one) as well.

Not only THAT, but they want to keep 4 of the 6 kittens, which means one (or technically 4) less thing(s) to try to find a home for. (Scott even jokingly included some “official” language about the kittens in his letter to our realtor).

Ultimately, every concern that we had about our house being a hard sell–the location (it’s a little ways out), the amount of land (27 acres), the school district (not so great), and the uniqueness of the house (we love it, but we made it to our specifications, without ever really intending to sell) were overcome by the Lord’s doing precisely what we had asked: bringing the perfect family for whom none of those considerations mattered (their children go to a private school; they wanted to be in the country with lots of acreage; and they think our house’s “quirks” are awesome) and who love our home as much as we do.

As far as the furnishings, I’ve had several people ask me how I could let go of so many things that are special to me. But honestly? Even though almost every piece in our house has a story that usually involves finding an amazing deal on it and then strapping it down in our van amidst a passel of kids, I’m not particularly attached to any of it. The only diehards for me were the pipe shelf Shaun made me for Valentine’s and the chest he made me before we were even married that now sits at the foot of our bed and holds all of our favorite sentimental mementos.

The rest? It’s just stuff. Which I am learning to hold more and more loosely. Especially when it means I don’t have to load it up and move it.

But wait. Didn’t I say that we wouldn’t be done with our house for 3 months? Where are we going to LIVE?!

Turns out, God already had that in hand too (no surprise there). One of our rental houses just came open, so we’ll move into it in about a month and sort of “camp out” there (think: mattresses on the floor and clothes in a suitcase) for 6 weeks or so. It’s only 1,500 square feet, so we’ll be on top of each other a bit, but I’m almost looking forward to the simplicity of it while we focus on finishing the new house. (And, as one of my gym members pointed out, “You’ll never have to wonder where your kids are.” Indeed not).

I know this is long, but I wanted to type all of this out as a testament to the Lord’s incredibly gracious provision in our lives in this whole building (and now selling) process. And so that I can look back and say, “See, what our good God did!” I am wary to declare how “blessed” I am when things go my way because I know that, often, the Lord’s blessing manifests itself through hardships.

But neither do I want to skimp on praising him for his love and incredible attention to detail in our lives. Every good and perfect gift comes from him, and I couldn’t have imagined a better or more perfect gift for this tired mama of many than to not have to show my house a gajillion times. Even if I’d shown it a gajillion and one, he would still be just as good and loving. But I am so grateful that he saw fit to let me off that hook.

Thank you yet again for your love and prayers through this process. I have felt them. And I am grateful for them and you.

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This and That

If we were just sitting down for a chat (how fun would that be??), I would have lots and lots to share with you. Life is careening along at a breakneck pace, and things that I think just happened (like last night) turn out to have taken place 5 days before. No wonder Honor seems like he was just this teensy little thing and now is stretching the toes of all of his 6 months outfits, holding his head up, swiveling it around when he hears a voice he likes, and even starting to giggle a little at his siblings’ shenanigans.

He’s just as wonderful as ever and maybe my most content baby yet to just be. This is the first time the boys have been old enough to “watch” him at the gym, which has actually simplified things considerably, since he’s not allowed in the nursery until 12 weeks, and I started teaching at 3 weeks postpartum (totally not what I would have preferred, but I ran out of subs rather quickly this time). In the past, I would have had to feed him mere seconds before rushing out the door, leaving him home with Shaun who hopefully wouldn’t get an important conference call in the middle of a crying fit (Honor’s, not Shaun’s…although Honor has almost as few of those as Shaun does, so it probably would have been fine ;) ). And then, I would have had to hightail it home as quickly as possible (since it’s a 30 minute commute both ways) to feed him again.

baby elephant

Gimme those thigh rolls!!

But now, Ezra and Simon–who have turned it cute little bookworms–will happily sit for an hour and read at the table right outside the childcare room door with Honor hanging out beside them snoozing or looking around with bright, round  blue eyes (shaded by thee longest, straightest eyelashes…after having a passel of curly eye lashed kids, it’s funny to see him peeking out from underneath his stick straight fringe). Maybe you’ve heard of blanket-trained kids? Well, Honor is car seat trained. And it’s pretty rad. And then, if we need to do an errand, or–like on Tuesdays–I’m teaching two classes, well, he’s right there with me to feed. SO much simpler!

Speaking of babies, we have six new fur babies at our house.

kittens

Having nursed twins while 3 other small children used my body as a jungle gym, I feel a great kinship with that mama cat right now.

They are just getting to the super-cute, playful, fluffy stage, and the kids have convinced themselves that we’re keeping ALL of them (my eyes just crossed a little). You know…one for each of the big ones (because Honor is only old enough to pull their tails by accident).

Funny story: we have a cat house that Shaun made with the boys a while back that matches the exterior colors and trim of our actual house. And Faith (the mama cat) had the good sense to have her kittens IN that house. But the very day that Shaun hauled a trailer of miscellaneous junk to the dump (a few weeks after they were born), she had the very bad sense to move them.

Shaun came back from his trip to the dump carrying a mewing bundle in his t-shirt and informed me that, just as he was about to throw out the last bit of trash, he heard high-pitched meows and noticed that a dark, furry pile in the corner of the trailer appeared to be moving!

Nothing like throwing all of your kids’ kittens in the trash to lose you your Dad of the Year Award double-quick. (And nothing like hauling a bunch of frantic clawing fur balls home in your shirtto elevate you to Super Dad status even quicker…and a well-deserved status it is).

Speaking of kittens (sort of), we’ve already shown the house to one family of 6, the dad of which asked if the kittens came with the house. (The mom was less enthused). And it’s a good thing our older kids weren’t there because both Shaun and I very enthusiastically agreed to throw a pile of kittens in as a closing incentive.

Either way, this family is coming out again today, this time to see the property in daylight (they had to come in the evening the first time), and they are not only interested in the house/property but in possibly buying it furnished! (I can’t even begin to properly express how happy the thought of not having to move furniture and/or sell it off piece-meal makes me).

If you think to pray for the outcome of that situation, I would be grateful. We want the Lord’s will first (and only), but I’m not going to lie that I have definitely been pestering the Lord about whether this might possibly be it. This morning, during family Bible reading, we read Luke 11:9, which says: “Ask, and it will be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” I KNOW that verse is used out of context all the time, but it is addressing the idea of approaching the Lord boldly with our requests, and so that’s what we’re doing. Ultimately, only he knows our future (of course), and I feel perfect peace about all of it, so it’s all good!

In other (bizarre) news, our UPS driver has taken to dropping our packages off next to a particular tree beside the driveway (only about 1/5 of the way down it) rather than bringing them to our front porch.

At first, I thought it was a fluke (had to be, right?), but after our last three packages all materialized in the exact same spot, I’m thinking not. The slightly impish part of me wants to call his boss and suggest that he only pay him 1/5 of his pay and see how he likes that! Ha. Either way, he has me trained to check the bushes for packages these days.

books

 

Those pretty books that I scored on Amazon Warehouse Deals were just languishing beside our driveway for several days before I realized it. Good thing they were wrapped in plastic!

Hmmm…what else? I think I’ve mentioned several times before that my mom (who is my super hero) takes my three oldest kids home with her to sleep over every. single. Thursday night? Shaun and I like to make that our “date night” of the week (which usually means Thai takeout that we eat while watching Fixer Upper on the couch #partyanimals). Last week, instead of the usual, we went down the hill to our neighbor’s house for the very definition of a “roaring fire.” Our neighbors have a peach orchard (he’s a farmer, among other things, by trade), and they have an actual peach pruning bonfire. We roasted hotdogs and s’mores (though not on the big fire…our sticks would have had to be 30 feet long) and then awed all of the little kids with the blaze.

blaze

In still other news, we only have 2 meetings left of our home school co-op this year, and I’m a bit flabbergasted that the school year is almost over. The way this particular co-op works is to focus less on “tuition” (which is nominal) and to focus more on parent participation (your kids can’t attend unless you’re there fulfilling some role or another). To that end, I’ve spent my Mondays for the last 7 months grading grammar workbooks and essays. I actually kind of enjoy it as it gives me 5 kid-free hours a week during which I can exercise that word/sentence loving part of my brain, and my kids can socialize and learn from someone else. But next year, they’ve tapped me to teach high school Spanish, which is taking me back to my teaching roots (since I taught Spanish 2-4 in 2 different public schools and 1 private one before I eventually quit after I had Ezra and Simon).

I’m thinking I may have Ezra take Spanish 1 with me, even though he’ll only be in 6th grade, because he’s very bright, has an incredible memory, and needs to be challenged. I can honestly say that I never really expected to be able to teach my own child in a classroom setting, and I’m actually really looking forward to it.

Oh! And in case you’re wondering, it’s not nearly as hard as I thought it would be to keep a house show-ready, even with 7 kids in it. Yes, it’s taking up way more of my day than it did before, and other things (usually dinner prep) are getting put on the back burner (sometimes, literally). But it’s happening, and I am really enjoying not tripping over toys as much. (Although, to be honest, one of the main reasons that it’s so much easier is that we have gotten rid of almost all of our toys or anything else extra, for that matter). Now, if we can only convince ourselves to “live like we have a house showing in an hour” in the new house, we’ve got it made!

cactus

Theo has been SUCH a helper, replacing cute little cactus decorations with toy cars and wearing his sister’s necklace on his head so we don’t have to put it back where it goes. So thoughtful. 

And speaking of the house, I did manage to get pictures of (almost) the entire thing, so as soon as I get a chance to edit those, I’ll do a post or two.

Aaaaand, now I’m off to do a list of things longer than my arm. Our Tuesdays are always hectic because they start with school/chores, continue to piano lessons + errands + teaching 2 gym classes in town, and end with getting dinner on the table and everybody ready for bed (and then falling onto the couch in exhaustion). It’s a long day for everybody, but I’m always pretty impressed with what troopers the kids are.

Thank you again for all of the kind thoughts and prayers. I appreciate them more than you know.

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On the Market

We did it! By the grace of God, we did it!

house3

I feel like dancing some sort of wild jig in a field of wildflowers. Buuuuuuttt it’s raining, so maybe I should put on my boots and go stomp in a puddle instead. That sounds like just about as much fun (way more fun according to my kids and Peppa Pig).

What did we do?

We finally got every last room in our house and the entire exterior sell-worthy.

We have worked steadily for the last 5 weeks or so, cleaning and scrubbing, purging and decluttering, rearranging and redecorating. I’ve lost count of how many bags I’ve taken to Goodwill (and that’s after doing that 50 bag purge last year!!).

I wouldn’t have necessarily called myself a hoarder in the past (although, I do tend toward, “But what if we need it?” more than, “Toss it.” Or…I did in the past. I think I’m cured, honestly). But the amount of stuff just sitting around in my closets unused would have called me a liar. I have parsed 5 years worth of kids’ clothes, donated at least half of my “extra” decor, and finally (FINALLY!) planted every inch of my flowerbeds in a respectable manner (because I am definitely guilty of only buying wilting clearanced Lowe’s specimens, which is a hopeless endeavor for someone who already struggles with black-thumbitis).

house1

We’re planning to use that pink Cozy Coup as a negotiating tool (as in: we’ll pay you to keep it!}

WHY we (because other people have told me they do this too) wait until we’re ready to sell to finally finish off those last few projects like adding trim around the closet or mulching the tree ring, I don’t know. Well, I do. It’s because this kind of concerted effort takes so much focus away from everything else that if we were to do this stuff all of the time, we’d never have a hot meal on the table or a lick of school done. And, considering how busy we’ve been with the other house and pregnancy/new baby, the time and desire to tackle the stuff that didn’t have to be done right that second just hasn’t been there.

I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am to my friends and family who have helped out. My parents–who have painted and cleaned and watched kids–have been the biggest source of help, but my sister-in-law and other sweet friends have taken hours out of their days to pitch in and tangibly just BE the hands and feet of Jesus to us. Their kindness floors me.

My kids deserve a shout out too. They have worked like beavers.

Of course, now we need to see if we can keep this thing show-worthy for longer than 15 minutes with 9 people using all the things all the time (it’s been a full day, and everything’s still looking good, so I’m hopeful!).

Either way, it’s DONE. Pretty much. I still have some clothes to sell (be on the lookout for a closet pop-up sale…maybe…no promises), and a bit of decor to rearrange, but the realtor came by yesterday and gave us the go ahead to list.

house2

I do believe we’ll just eat on paper plates outside every night on our pretty patio under the twinkle lights, thanks very much.

HUGE sigh of relief. (Because, if she’d given us a list of things to change at this point, I might have thrown in the towel).

Which! Brings me to the point of this post.

IF you happen to be in the market for a large, private family home in the country with lots of acreage, a giant back patio, a workshop, a barn, two ponds, and some of the prettiest views in East Texas, feel free to email me at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com for details.

house4

One of my favorite views (ignore the wheelbarrow)

We officially list on Friday, but anyone who contacts me before then will be placed on what our realtor calls an “exclusion list,” which means that, if you come without a buyer’s agent, then nobody has to pay that 3% fee, which gives us a nice bit of negotiation wiggle room in our price. If you know of anyone else looking, we’re S. of Tyler, so if that’s their target area, feel free to send them our way!

Also, stay tuned for pictures of the house. We’re supposed to get some sunshine tomorrow, and I will be snapping away!

Thank y’all again for being patient with me during this extra busy time. And thank you for the prayers you’ve already promised. I appreciate them more than I can express.

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