Category Archives: Confessions

10 things I learned from 10 years of motherhood (Part 1)

This boy right here turned 10-whole-years-old yesterday.

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That means 10 whole years of mamahood for me.

And I really couldn’t be more thrilled with how he’s turning out. I think back to the day he was born, which is still so distinct in my memory (apparently, having your first kid leaves an impression), and I just laugh at my fumbling, overly strict, clueless self. And I cringe a little too.

I mean, when he was 5 days old, I sat beside him on the floor and jiggled his bouncer, talked to him, did EVERYTHING to calm him down from a screaming rage except pick him up…because it wasn’t “time” to feed him again yet (and he couldn’t possibly have just needed comfort, Abbie?). Who does that? Well, an earnest, nervous, 23-year-old first-time mama who has practically no experience with babies and who is convinced that if she feeds her baby “too early” he’ll be spoiled forever. OY. See? Cringe-worthy.

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Don’t worry. I figured out pretty quickly that this was not necessary, and I held him a whole lotBut there are still puh-lenty of things that I look back on now and wonder why I felt the need to be so uptight about it all. I’m also a little in awe of the fact that, even with all of my bumbling, Ezra has turned out as “normal” as he has so far. (I only use the quotations because the spectrum of normal is pretty wide these days, and he is delightfully “abnormal” in many excellent ways).

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Honestly, I think firstborns are testaments to God’s grace. To the fact that we can flub our way through a whole lot of situations–too lenient, too strict, too careful, too smothering, too free-spirited–and, if we keep coming back to the truth of God’s word, keep praying for them, keep training them up in the way they should go, they will–by the grace of God–survive our clumsy attempts at all of those motherhood firsts.

Ezra certainly has so far. Not only has he survived but he has blossomed into a joyful, handsome, helpful, godly young man. And I couldn’t be prouder to be his mama.

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Ezra and I are similar in lots of ways, but he’s about 10 times more sensitive than I am, and 4 times as kind (the two are probably connected). He’s a stickler for rules (so was I), a personal perfectionist in some areas and a bit lazy in others (yup, me too). He loves to read and makes good grades (just like me). He’s a bit of a know-it-all (ahem).

But where he deviates (in such a good way) is in his instinctive ability to relate to others’ suffering, to express compassion and empathy, to get down on a hurting person’s level and speak with gentleness and feeling. As you can imagine, little kids love him. Theo absolutely worships him and will even go to him from my arms (which is saying something because Theo is a major mama’s boy). In fact, there have been plenty of times when I’m getting ready to drop the hammer on the twins as they attempt to scratch each other’s eyes out, and I hear Ezra sweetly talking them off of their crazy ledges. Sometimes, the hammer is still necessary, but his gentler approach is such a great reminder to, as Titus 2:3 says: “Speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

lessonsIn fact, while being a mother for a decade has taught me plenty more than one thing per year, the number seemed fitting, so here are 10 motherhood revelations I’ve had, in no particular order (and split into two posts because the word count was getting ridonkulous).

1. It’s called a phase for a reason (AKA: This too shall pass)

This has to be one of the most fundamental and yet profound truths of motherhood there is. No matter how maddening, infuriating, and patience-shredding a behavior your little angel might adopt, NEVER FEAR! She will move on to another equally soul-crushing habit eventually. Hmm…perhaps that didn’t come out as encouraging as I meant it to. But seriously, even though there will always be something to be frustrated by, chances are, it won’t always be THAT THING that you thought would never go away/change/resolve itself.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that bad habits respond well to passive parenting. You can/should definitely help your child work through his “issue,” but, chances are, you’ll probably have to ride out a fair bit of unavoidable angst as they get it out of their systems.

I remember reading a Facebook cry for help from a mama of littles whose children were doing something typically childish, and she ended with: “And DON’T tell me, ‘It’s just a phase!!!’” Because that’s the last thing you want to hear when you want instant relief from the kid who keeps going to the same corner and peeing in it every single day at 3 PM. But it’s the truth. Some day, barring a sensory problem or some other special need, he really will stop.

So…Hang. in. there.

Side note: sadly, this also applies to the cute phases. WHY can’t Simon still say “Weh-wah” instead of Ezra? Or Della still lean her head in to touch her forehead to mine when I tell her I love her like she did when she was 1? Or Theo continue to do every single thing that he’s currently doing because it’s completely and utterly Theodorable?

Because these, too, are just a phase. Hmph.

2. Potty training is not worth stressing over

Speaking of phases, I’ve talked several times here about Ezra’s year-long campaign against pooping. Not gonna lie. It was kind of miserable. But! It didn’t last forever (praise Jesus!), and, as a result of it, I learned not to sweat potty training too much. All of my children have been potty-trained between ages 2 1/2 and 3, with nothing more than repetition and training. No boot camps. No special tricks. (Nothing against them, though). Just repetition and reward. I still don’t feel like anything close to an expert. The twins practically potty-trained themselves. But! It did happen. Which gives me great confidence that, in Theo’s case, it will happen again. I am prone to stress about many things. After the debacle with Ezra, I refuse to let potty training be one of them.

3. It’s okay to admit you’re wrong

I’m big on respect. I am not my children’s friend, even when I sure wish I could be. Yes, I play games with them and make silly faces. But ultimately, I’m their mama, which means that I’m their most consistent authority figure. And I have to act accordingly. For the longest time, I had a hard time admitting when I’d been unjust or apologizing for messing up. It felt like an abdication of authority that would weaken my children’s respect for me. It took a while, but I’ve come to understand that, instead of letting my pride blur my understanding of grace, I can be a living and active example of it, letting them see that Mama sins too and that she needs Jesus (and forgiveness) every bit as much as they do.

4. Video games really are addictive

I wasn’t the mom who vowed never to allow video games in her home, but I was determined to stick to a low video game time policy. We have several gaming systems in our home (thanks to Shaun’s buying them secondhand but never playing them), most of which we practically never use, except to play DVD’s. But the boys (and now Della) are allowed 30 minutes of game time on Mondays and then 30 minutes when they’re at my mom’s on the weekend. Other than that, they have zero screen time (other than movies) unless we are a) playing something like Tetris or Mario Kart together as a family b) at the gym (where they show movies and sometimes friends have handheld games), or c) it’s school-related.

Some of you probably find these guidelines too lenient while others are shaking your heads in wonder at my hardcore stance. BUT! I have found, consistently, that when my boys (especially) are allowed more than their allotment of video game time, they become discontented and begin to crave more and more–to the point that they are no longer satisfied with other activities.

Plenty of research has been done about the addictive nature of video games (and screen time, in general), but I have only to look at my own children’s behavior to conclude that, in this case, less really is more.

5. Bring God into the everyday

When Ezra was little, I felt funny talking to him about God all of the time. Sure, we read the Children’s Storybook Bible and prayed, but when I tried to explain more complicated theological concepts in “baby talk,” it felt strange and unnatural. It took a while to get over myself, but one day (years later; I probably already had Della), I caught myself explaining God the Creator through the lens of a spider’s web. And it was effortless. The kids got it. And I felt like I finally did too. Since then, I find myself referencing truths from the Bible or creation or sin nature pretty much all day long as the natural opportunity arises.

Golly. I had NO idea I had that many words about motherhood lessons learned. And that’s only half of them!

Which, I’m sure, makes you soooooo excited for Part 2 tomorrow.

But enough about me. What have YOU learned from being a mama?

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I am not an ostrich. I hope you aren’t either.

Confession: I have avoided watching the Planned Parenthood exposé videos over the past several weeks. I could claim busyness or exhaustion. But the real reason was that the mere thought of watching people barter over the sale of aborted baby body parts made me sick to my stomach.

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{The more kids I have, the harder it is for me to even think about abortion}

But when my mom let me know that the Senate was considering completely defunding Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives 500 million tax-payer dollars per year, I knew I needed to say something and that to be able to say it, I needed to be informed.

So, I watched the videos. And, yes, my stomach churned, but I’m glad I did it. Because truth always trumps personal discomfort.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me briefly explain: a man named David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress recently released four (of 8-10 total) undercover investigative videos, during which he posed as a representative for a company seeking to acquire fetal tissue. During the videos, he speaks with Planned Parenthood employees–doctors, managers, executives–and negotiates the sales of aborted babies on a part by part basis. There is haggling, negotiating, the desire expressed to “get the most out of it” and “check to see what everyone else is doing to make sure we’re getting the most we can, and if not, we can ‘bump it up.’” One woman even jokes (oh, Lord help us) about how she “wants a Lamborghini.”

Hopefully, you find this morally repugnant. At the very least, you might be interested to know that it’s illegal. Although I wish it were with every fiber of my being, the sale of human fetal body parts is not illegal. However, the profiting from such a sale is.

In other words, according to law, Planned Parenthood should have a flat-rate fee that covers any costs that they might incur in “processing and transferring” fetal remains to insure that no profits are possible. Instead, all four of the videos released to date reveal haggling on a body part by body part basis and even the discussion of “wholly intact specimens,” which sometimes “come out if we haven’t gotten to them yet.” That particular doctor admits that it’s definitely not their goal for this to happen but just sort of shrugs and admits that it does. I, like many others, am horrified by this implication that babies are being born before the abortion doctors arrive and then “aborted” anyway. (I am in no way saying that aborted babies inside their mothers’ wombs are any less “alive” or “valuable,” but the possibility of blatant murder outside the womb just adds a whole new layer of disgust/wrongness).

In one video, a prominent doctor/executive describes the process of using ultrasounds to search for the baby’s body position, with a “game plan” from a ” huddle” that they have at the beginning of the day. The purpose? Coupled with the knowledge of what kind of body parts are in demand at the moment, the ultra-sound information can help the abortion doctor to turn the baby around to deliver him/her feet first so that those parts come out “intact” and salable.

This process is identical to the illegal procedure known as partial birth abortion.

I urge you to watch the videos. The experience is neither pleasant nor comfortable (I watched every video with my hand over my mouth and didn’t realize how hard I was pushing on it until they were done, and my lips and teeth hurt).

But it is important.

Today, our legislators are meeting to decide whether to defund Planned Parenthood entirely. Technically by law, no part of our tax-payer dollars may go toward abortion, but given the fact that technically by law, the individual sale of baby parts for profit and partial birth abortion are illegal and yet are still going on–in tandem, no less– I have less than zero faith in an organization with executives who say: “These laws are open to interpretation. At the beginning of the day, if I say that I don’t intend to do something, it doesn’t really matter what ends up happening at the end of the day.”

I’m sorry. Isn’t that the only thing that matters?

After it was revealed that Josh Duggar had molested 5 young girls almost 15 years before, his family’s show was yanked from the TLC network in one day. (I’m not saying this was right or wrong. But it was certainly decisive and aggressive behavior).

Cecil the Lion was killed, and the media and celebrities exploded in a frenzy of outrage and cries for legal action. The Empire State Building has been lit up with his shadow in honor of his “murder.”

And yet, a judge has placed a restraining order on the expose videos, which clearly demonstrate intentionally illegal actions towards human babies, and our senate is meeting to decide whether to defund an organization that participates in blatantly illegal actions and receives 500 MILLION dollars of your and my money to do it.

I’m grateful that, at least, they’re meeting. But that’s still messed up.

If you think so too, please do something about it.

Share the videos, this post, or any other that will help inform people who may not have watched the videos.

Call your legislators.

Sign this petition.

And, most importantly of all, pray. For the senate to make the right, moral, legal decision. And for God’s mercy on our country. Only He knows exactly how much we need it.

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In case you’ve ever (mistakenly) believed that I have “it all” together…

Last week was a doozy, y’all. And yet it was full of grace. And lots of opportunities for me to learn humility. Yippee.

Want to hear about it?

Okay, well then grab a cup of coffee and find a comfy chair because we’re going to be here a while.

Yesterday, we stayed home from church because of a stomach bug. (And yes, I realize that yesterday was actually the beginning of this week. But I don’t want to think about that right now).

Four days ago, a (large) cup of water got knocked over (yes, a kid was involved) and poured directly into my husband’s computer case (he’s a software developer, and his computer is his livelihood; this was very, very bad), soaking the motherboard, CPU, sound card, video card, and many other important things that I know less than nothing about.

There was a flash, an explosion, the smell of frying electrical components, and the whole machine just. quit. working. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Shaun so close to completely losing it. I hustled the kids off to the library, while he took everything apart in some sort of wildly optimistic (yet, surely futile) effort to salvage something. And the whole way, I prayed pretty much nonstop for mercy. I begged God to let on that sad, fricasseed machine work again.

And you know what? He did. As I was fixing dinner, Shaun came down with a flummoxed expression on his face, shaking his head and saying, “It shouldn’t work. At all. But it does. Praise the Lord.”

A day later, I lost a pouch containing a rather substantial wad of cash + a check from the sale of quite a few furniture items (I’m in de-clutter mode). I spent hours scouring my house/garage/car + calling everywhere I’d been in the last 48 hours, and I couldn’t help but feel some sympathy (empathy?) pangs for Uncle Billy from It’s a Wonderful Life (WHO loses a pouch full of cash?).

Just when I had lost all hope and become convinced that it had fallen out of my purse or been stolen, Shaun walked into the living room, and dropped it in my lap, declaring that it had been hiding out under a pair of jeans–the one thing I hadn’t looked under–on our “dining room table” (code for: landing strip for all paraphernalia that comes into and leaves our house). So! I hadn’t lost a bunch of money! Just buried it under the laundry. Yay.

Last Tuesday, though. THAT was the day that got this whole crazy ball rolling in a major way.

The twins and Della apparently all got the same memo that their mission was to break each others’ records for shriekiest, most skin-crawlingly ear-piercing scream evvvver.

And they were succeeding. At least in my mind, every scream was a little shriller and more nerve-shredding than the last.

Theo didn’t seem to be taking his naps as well as usual (see above description of my daughters’ vocal gymnastics).

The older boys were hyper.

I was trying to blog, answer FB questions about some furniture I was selling, coordinate pick-up/meet times for other items I was selling/buying, study BODYCOMBAT choreography notes, dole out snacks, clean up messes, do laundry, nurse a baby, and try not to forget the 13 things I needed to bring with me.

Nola didn’t nap, and to top it all, my living room was in total chaos (see above about selling furniture), and the visual mess was majorly messing with my head.

Somehow, we managed to get out the door “on time” (read: 15 minutes later than I wanted but technically still early enough to cram everything in), and we spent the next 30 minutes racing around from one errand to the next. When I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw that Nola had fallen asleep 10 minutes before we got to the gym, I knew I was in for it.

Nola is my all-or-nothing girl, and she doesn’t wake up easily or happily unless it’s on her own terms.

But, as I hauled her out of the car, she seemed docile enough, and I hoped against hope sound reason that she would cooperate. Halfway across the parking lot, though, she started to stomp her feet and whimper and insist that I hold her–no small feat when I’d forgotten the stroller (of course) and was already schlepping 18.7-lb.-Theo in his car seat plus my purse/diaper/mom bag (which weighs only slightly less than a baby elephant).

By the time we got to the nursery, I was sweating, (more) stressed, and five minutes late. Not only that, but the woman who had been supposed to meet me in the gym parking lot to pick up a sale…forgot. And was planning on jumping in the car to run up there in “10 minutes” (she had to load kids, so I was guessing that meant more like 20, but it was impossible to tell).

I dropped my kids off, and Nola dropped any pretense at civility and began wailing like some sort of emergency siren. Feeling like a deadbeat parent, I gave the nursery worker an apologetic look and raced to Studio A, now 8 minutes late to practice.

3 minutes into practice (during which my brain felt like absolute mush as I tried to scrap together the fragmented choreography study sessions I’d slipped into the day’s cracks), the gym’s assistant manager came in and informed me that Nola’s temper tantrum had escalated into a full-blown atomic meltdown.

I apologized to Israel (my practice partner…who doesn’t have kids, by the way) and raced back to the nursery, where I discovered the gym’s manager sitting on the floor trying to talk a hysterical Nola down from her oh-so-high-and-mighty crazy cliff.

(Two grown men + one hysterical toddler is not good math).

Nothing was working. Not even the suggestion of snacks, which–let me tell you–means that Nola was deeeep down the rabbit hole (because that girl loves to eat).

Fast-forward through much screaming, an absolute insistence that I (and no one else) take her potty, and (OF COURSE!) a sudden need to sit on said potty and wait to see if maybe, possibly, she miiiiight need to poop, and I was feeling a bit frantic.

I knew that Israel was waiting for me, the gym managers were probably drawing up my resignation letter (not fair, since they were both incredibly gracious and even got snacks from the vending machine for my children free of charge), and the lady was probably texting me wondering why I’d dropped the face of the earth.

Sure enough, by the time Nola was finally even approaching a return to her right mind, and I finally checked my phone, I had a text saying, “I’m here!” from twelve minutes before, and then another (very politely) asking if she was in the right place.

I ran back into Studio A, apologized to Israel again, then sprinted out of the gym to meet the lady outside. She was nice as she could be and apologized to me for forgetting. I tried to smile and nod, but mostly I just snatched her money, shoved the table at her, and then careened back inside.

After Combat practice, I hustled all the kids to the car so we could make our next appointment, checking my phone for the text I was sure would be waiting for me since, yet again, we were running a bit behind.

Only my phone wasn’t in my purse.

Oh, for the love.

There was no way in 103 heat-index East Texas (which is, quite possibly, a little hotter than the word that people usually use to complete that phrase) I was hauling 6 children back inside to wander the gym halls searching for my phone, so I parked in the handicap spot (that counts for “mentally” too, right?) near the gym entrance, turned on Loony Tunes, cranked the air-conditioner, and instructed Ezra to lock the doors and open them for no one but a crazy lady with a wild look in her eyes that resembled his mother.

After a lightning fast but fruitless search of every room (nursery! studio A! studio B! the upstairs bathroom! the downstairs bathroom…oh wait, I never went in there) that I could think of, I started to wonder if pressing the “quit life” button was truly an option. Or maybe, at least, the “pause so I can sit down and sob without more time passing, thus making me even later to the next thing” button. Yeah, that would work too.

You better believe I was offering up some pretty fervent/incoherent prayers like, “Lord, please. Help. Where’s my phone. Please, clear my brain and help me remember. Phone. Where IS it??!”

And then it came to me: I must have put it down in the back of my van when I met the lady to exchange items/money. I must have.

And so I pelted past the front desk yet again (pretty sure they thought I was staging my own indoor race at this point), hurtled down the stairs, and threw open my van hatch to discover…

My phone.

HALLELUJAH!

But, of course, the lady had sent me a text at 5:13 saying she was waiting (I was supposed to meet her at 5:45, and it was now 5:55; I have no idea why she texted so early) and then another asking if I was still coming.

Arrrrrrgh!

After meeting her, I drove to Chick-fil-a, where I had promised to buy dinner for my children.

Or, more accurately, be given free food for my children. You see, it was Cow Appreciation Day (you dress up like a cow, they give you free food; it’s the perfect combination of humiliation and charity), and one of the many things I had thrown in my car as we left the house were–don’t laugh–supplies to “make” cow costumes.  Because it just hadn’t happened earlier, despite my best intentions. We’re talking scissors, my travel sewing kit, construction paper, face paint…the works.

But, as I saw family after family skipping happily inside wearing their already-done (of course; what kind of insane person tries to craft cow outfits in the car???) costumes, I could feel the ball of tension in my belly unraveling and spreading along my limbs until even my fingernails felt taut as an over-tuned piano wire.

Still, I persevered (code for: stubbornly refused to acknowledge obvious defeat) and doggedly cut out cow spots and sewed them onto the girls’ (non-white) shirts, one at a time. And then made the boys smear black paint on everybody’s noses. Because, yes, Abbie, the defining feature of a cow’s face is its black nose. Huge eye-roll.

After 15 minutes of this circus act, I gave up. We looked a hot mess y’all. Literally. Remember the part about the 103 heat index? Yeah. The van’s idling air-conditioning can only kick it for so long before it’s like, “Ah’ight. I’m out.”

NOT ONE of us looked even remotely like a cow. And as I got the last spot sewed onto Evy’s shirt, I turned around to discover that Nola had pulled every last one of hers off.

{Beat head against car window; pause to glare at perfect family in perfect cow costume; REPEAT}

I just kept telling myself, “These are first world problems, Abbie. You are not a persecuted believer in China whose husband has been thrown in prison and doesn’t know where her next meal will come from. You can go inside Chick-fil-a and buy food.” But I was feeling pretty persecuted, y’all. And tired. And ridiculous. And like an utter failure at mamahood and life in general.

Desperately hoping not to encounter anyone I knew (unlikely since I’d seen at least 2 families I recognized head inside already), I herded (ha. ha.) my motley black-nosed crew inside and joined the hordes of appropriately black and white clad free-food-seekers.

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{Here we are at Chick-fil-a the week before Cow Appreciation Day; because there was zero photo-documentation of our costume fail on the day of}

When it was our turn, I could barely meet the teenage clerk’s eyes as I mumbled, “Um, this one has spots and a black nose. Does that get us anything?”

And he smiled at me and said, “Sure, how about a kids’ meal?”

I nodded numbly, and he said, “How many will you need?”

I met his eyes in surprise and realized that he meant all of them–aaaaall of my many, sadly inappropriately dressed children.

I could barely get the words out: “Um, five?”

“Okay, ma’am. My pleasure. What would you like to drink?”

By this point, I was fighting tears so hard, and only the prospect of that poor boy’s distress at the sweaty, stressed-looking mama’s breaking into heaving sobs while her crowd of children looked on in confusion empowered me to keep it together.

He didn’t know about my “day.” He didn’t know how badly I just wanted to give up and drive home and scrounge in the fridge for leftovers. He didn’t know how his timid little smile and total lack of judgment were spreading healing balm over what felt like gaping wounds in my pride and patience and pathetic resolve to keepittogetherfor5moreminutesdangit.

If ever a fast-food checkout dude was Jesus to me, it was that guy, that day.

So, why do I tell you this?

Because I need you to know that the girl who writes posts giving you tips about how to have a successful vacation with kids and how to sleep-train babies is the very same one who spent 4 days in a row feeling like she was two over-scheduled hours away from the loony bin.

I love having the opportunity to share the things that do work (because I wasn’t lying; that vacation was awesome,and so are sleeping babies) in hopes that they help somebody out. But if you met me in real life, then you would know just how much I don’t  have it together all the time (most days are not like that Tuesday, but neither are they completely smooth sailing) and how much I don’t claim to.

It’s just so easy to see people after they’ve showered and had a chance to compose the crazy and think that that’s how they roll all the time.

A friend told me that I seemed to be “graced with patience for motherhood,” on a day when I’d spent the morning snapping at my kids.

A nursery worker heard me humming along to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” when I was picking my kids up from the daycare and said, “What? You sing too? What don’t you do?”

And I thought: “What don’t I do? Oh my word. SO, so much.”

I am so very flattered and appreciative when people share kind words, but I also need you to know how human I am. How flawed. How desperately in need of Jesus. All day. Every day.

And how I cling to these words: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Most days, we do all right. But even on the “easy” days, that verse is what I’m banking on–the promise, sure and true, that if I just keep swimming, keep apologizing when I blow it, keep doing the next thing I know is right, keep reading my Bible, keep dying to myself and growing in grace…that I will reap a reward–not in ease and comfort and wealth–but in character growth and better relationships with my children and more empathy for others who are struggling with their humanity too (because isn’t that everybody?).

So, yeah. Just in case you ever (mistakenly) thought that I have “it all” together…just reread this post. I’m so grateful for the simple days when everything just falls into place. But I’m even more appreciative (of them) when every little last thing is just a bit (or a lot) off because it reminds me exactly Who does have “it all” together right in the palms of His hands.

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{What a relief!}

I sure won’t complain, though, if we don’t have a do-over of last week starting today. Nope. Not one bit.

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Fall decorating + the back story…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I may or may not get to adding anything else.

And that’s just fine by me.

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

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

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

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Can I get a jump (suit)?

One time about 4 years ago, I was walking along with friends in a department store, and I spotted a floral romper and declared loudly: “Oh man! I just can’t get behind this onesie trend. I will never wear a romper.”

Just as the word “romper” left my lips, a statuesque (read: she could have beat. me. down) girl strolled by wearing—you guessed it—a romper.

As you can imagine, I was suddenly very quiet as we slipped by her, and then we all burst into subdued giggles as my friends hissed things like, “Way to go, Abbie. Why don’t you shove your foot a little farther down your throat?”

Fortunately, for all involved, either the girl didn’t hear me, or she was too worried about wrinkling her denim onesie to engage in a round of fisticuffs. Either way, we emerged unscathed.

But you know what they say about never and how you’re, well, never supposed to say it?

Yeah.

A little while ago, I spotted Kendi wearing a black jumpsuit on her blog, and then a few more popped up on blog-land and on Pinterest, and, much to my surprise and chagrin, I found myself trolling the internets for a black onesie of my own.

Now, I do stand by my aversion to shorts rompers, but for some reason, the pants version in black (and only in black) appeals to me.

So, I ordered this one from Forever 21 and wore it the other day.

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Honestly, I don’t know if I’m completely sold on this exact onesie. But my husband didn’t hate it like I thought he might (although he refused to touch any part of it since it’s made from the dry, papery texture that he abhors), and it was something a little bit different and fun for me. So, I’m okay with its not being a complete slam dunk.

skinny jumpsuit

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So, tell me, have you ever worn something (even if it’s only a version of it) of something you swore you never would?

And specifically, what do you think about the onesie trend? I was about to reiterate the fact that I only like the black pants version, but just in looking for links while writing this post, I saw a few patterned ones I didn’t hate. It’s a slippery slope, my friends.

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Splurge-worthy

Well, I’m right back at posting this morning, partly because I pretty much already had this post written before yesterday and partly because I got a good nap yesterday and got in snuggle time and game time with my kiddos. It was good, and I feel so much more rested already.

…………………………………………………………………..

I’ve wanted a cognac brown leather moto jacket for…well…ever. I’ve trolled Ebay and brick and mortar and online clearance racks for the last 5 years or so, hoping to score the perfect jacket for a great price.

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I was willing to pay a little more than I normally do (okay, way more than I do at Goodwill), but every time I found something close, I always chickened out at the price tag. Partly because I don’t like spending a lot of money on anything but mostly because none of them were ever perfect ,and I couldn’t be guaranteed to get the kind of price-per-wear that I was hoping for if I were going to splurge.

That all changed when, after abandoning my search for several months, I typed the words, “cognac leather jacket,” into the Amazon search bar on a whim several weeks ago, and the first result made me squeal out loud.

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{Top: LOFT, $7; Jeans: Rich and Skinny/Clothes Mentor, $3; Booties: American Eagle, $35}

It fit all my criteria: real leather, a reputable brand (Kenneth Cole), the perfect rich shade of brown, tailored but-not-too-stuffy fit, gold-toned hardware. The reviews raved about the quality of the leather and the jacket itself. But then they said the fit was off. It ran big and was narrow through the shoulders. And did I mention the price? $120. (Originally $350). I had been hoping to pay no more than $100 and only then if it were absolute leather jacket perfection.

But this one seemed to be. Two things ended up selling me on it: 1) free return shipping, which took out all the risk of a bigger purchase, and 2) the fact that there was literally one medium left in stock (and no sizes below that), which would be the size I’d need for the fact that it ran large. Oh, and also? It came with Amazon Prime shipping, so I didn’t even have to wait very long to find out if my slightly impulsive (if anything you’ve waited 5 years to buy can be described as impulsive) purchase would work out.

When the box came, I ripped it open in a frenzy of  nervous anticipation. The first thing I noticed as my fingers brushed the leather was how soft it was (the reviews had mentioned this). Seriously, guys, the word “buttah” (yes, with that pronunciation) popped into my head, and all I could think was, “Well, there’s no letting Ezra get a hold of this thing, or he’ll try to make it the new comforter for his bed.” (Even at almost 8-years-old, he has a major thing for soft/silky materials, which I’m pretty sure is a holdover from his toddler years when we had to get rid of all blankies matching that description because they only fueled his then obsession with sucking his two middle fingers).

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{Top: Goodwill, $3; Skirt: Goodwill, $3, Boots: Dillard’s, $26}

And THEN…then I put her on, and, my goodness, if she didn’t fit just like she’d been tailored exactly for my body. No pull at the shoulders. No sleeve length issues. No trouble zipping her right up.

It was leather jacket love, people.

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The search was over.

My brother happened to be at our house when I came sashaying through the living room giving my new leather jacket a test drive, and he said, “Hey, nice jacket.”

“Why thank you,” I replied, wearing probably a little too similar of an expression to the ones I wore after birthing my children. (The proud one; not the exhausted, pained, I-just-pushed-a-human-out-of-my-body one).

“How much did it cost?” he asked.

I glanced around for Shaun, then lowered my voice. “Um, $120.”

Shaun heard me from the other room, though, and said, “Whoa! That doesn’t sound like you!”

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{Top: GAP outlet, $8; Jeans: Old Navy, $10; Shoes: JCPenney, $15}

Now, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t trying to keep my purchase from my husband. After all, he’s the man who encouraged me to splurge on an Anthropologie dress (probably the single other most expensive clothing item I own besides my wedding dress). But I felt a little silly, like I was betraying my frugal nature, and I didn’t want him to tease me.

And then, there were you guys. I know most of us won’t get to meet in real life, but I still think of you as my friends, and you’re always so sweet and encouraging and willing to celebrate with me when I get excited about things that I was bursting with a desire to show you my new favorite jacket.

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Problem was, I’m the cheap-o girl here. I like to showcase 4 piece outfits I only paid $13 total for. And I wondered if you would judge me for my splurge.

So, I was faced with two choices (well, 3 really):

1) “hide” the jacket by taking it off and putting it aside when I took outfit pictures

2) take pictures with the jacket but carefully avoid mentioning the price tag and hope you didn’t ask

or

3) ‘fess up and trust you to either be kind, not care, or storm off in a huff at my betrayal of self.

I guess if you’ve made it this far into what is essentially a big long post that could be summed up in the words: “I bought an expensive leather jacket, and I don’t regret it for a second,” then you know which option I chose.

Because, even though there are definitely things in my life that need to remain private for the sake of my family or just good ol’ common sense, I don’t want to lie (even by omission) to you about things like how much money I’m willing to spend on clothes (every once in a blue moon) so that you’ll like me better or have a (falsely) elevated opinion of my virtue.

So, now you know.

I found my perfect leather jacket, and it wasn’t cheap.

Have you lost all respect for my thriftiness? And, perhaps more importantly, have you ever splurged on something you’ve been stalking for ages? 

P.S. In case you’re wondering, I’ve only had the jacket for a few weeks, and the current price-per-wear is already down to about $15. As you can see from the pics, I wear it with everything from skirts to dressy jeans to errand-running outfits. Worth.every.penny.

Linking up with Lindsey.

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On Brokenness (and Knock-off Anthropologie Vases)

Do y’all remember this vase?

before

It was only $8 and really reminded me of these Anthro versions that cost 3 times as much. If you read the post, then you know that I was extolling the joys of stumbling upon unexpectedly delightful things in everyday life.

And then this happened:

broken

I don’t actually know how it went down (hardee har). Normally, I would finger one of my children as the culprit. But, since, when I found it, every last shard of broken pottery had been carefully gathered and deposited inside the vase, and Della was the only mobile child home at the time of “the incident” (and completely incapable of that kind of meticulous track-covering), I’m thinking it had to have been Teresa. Who is no longer with us. But before you go thinking I would fire someone because of a broken vase, let me assure you that the vase incident and Teresa’s leaving were not only completely unrelated but also separated by several months. (Her schedule at her other job changed, and she is no longer able to help us out around the house; sniff sniff).

Thing is, I feel a kind of kinship with that poor, sad broken vase.

God has been chipping away at something inside of me for a while now, and about a week ago, I feel like he knocked me off the ledge I was precariously perched on, and let me crack a little.

I’m not a particularly dramatic person. Animated, yes. Expressive for sure. But I don’t soar to great heights or sink down to the depths on any regular basis. Sure, I get in funks or really good moods like the next girl, but I don’t cry easily (unless I’m pregnant, and then…watch out) or get deliriously happy…usually.

And I’ve always been pretty confident in who I am.  Which is why, when feelings of insecurity creep in, I take the time to pray and search out the root of the problem in my heart.

Ahem.

At least that’s what I thought I’d done until last week when, out of nowhere, right in the middle of chicken enchilada prep, a wave of unwelcome memories washed through my brain, so strong and painful  that it wiped out the pungent chopped onion smell that had been coaxing salty liquid from my eyes.

Hurtful actions. Hurtful words. Hurtful betrayals. Bombarding my mind until even the simple act of grating cheddar was an effort. I wanted to slide down onto the floor, grater in hand, and sob. 

But I couldn’t. I had things to finish, places to be. And did I mention I’m not a crier? Even when I want to be.

So, I finished the things. And I went to the places. But the hurt lingered. And then it gave birth to resentment, which curled up in the pit of my stomach and proceeded to shred my emotions with its sharp little claws.

And just when I thought the tears might come at the most inappropriate place and the worst possible time, I received another emotional kick in the face. From a friend, no less. And she didn’t even have a clue she’d done it. She was utterly guileless and completely blameless, but the explosion of hurt at her words so perfectly collided with my already churning emotions, that I knew it was God who had orchestrated it. I knew he wanted it to break me.

Let’s go back to that broken vase for a minute, shall we?

I loved it so much that I didn’t want to just throw it out. And I had an idea to rescue it and transform it into something beautiful again.

But first, I needed to get rid of the ruined flower. I tried several gentle methods of removal with flimsy tools that only bent or got injured themselves in my quest to tiptoe around that eyesore.

In the end, nothing but a hammer would do.

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And even then, I tapped at it, trying to preserve as much of it as I could without hurting the vase. Hoping that I wouldn’t have to do what I feared necessary.

Finally, I relented to the truth: nothing but  a swift forceful blow would be sufficient.

Sure enough, it worked. The broken flower came out in a chunk, like a cancer. It wasn’t a clean break, though.

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And it left a jagged hole in the vase.

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It would take something less rigid and brittle than the pottery flower—something soft and malleable—to fill that hole.    IMG_8611-001

Y’all.

When God took a hammer to my heart that night, he showed me oh-so-clearly that the nasty thing he was after was pride. I’ve always considered myself a pretty self-aware person. I know my limitations too well to think too highly of myself. You might even say that I have taken pride in my ability to know why I shouldn’t be prideful. Ironic much?

But then I realized that I was begrudging others praise and notice. I realized that I wanted, if not to be praised and noticed instead, at least to be praised and noticed as much.

I deserved at least that much consideration.

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Never mind that I serve a God who says topsy turvy things like “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” A God who calls me to take up a cross, which is a far cry from making sure that every possibly praiseworthy thing I do gets noticed. And an even farther cry from getting in a funk when it doesn’t.

But you want to know the best part?

God is so incredibly gracious that, when he knocks a big hole in us, he is faithful to fill it up with something better. Notice I didn’t say prettier or more noteworthy. Just better.

Because you know what’s better (and softer and much less toxic) than pride?

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Thankfulness.

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We celebrate Thanksgiving in the month of November, which means that it’s almost impossible to even so much as get on Facebook without being deluged with thankfulness. It’s good. And yet, even in this month when we deliberately practice this oft-forgotten virtue, I was anything but thankful. I was bitter and petulant. And entitled. I was: “Why them and not me, God?”

I would love to tell you that my reaction to realizing the achingly beautiful timing of that hurtful moment was one of worship. But it wasn’t. Not at first. I remember thinking: “REALLY, God? You’re going to do this now?”

To which he answered gently and clearly: “Yes, now. Because now is when you need it most.”

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Mercy.

Literally, folks. Praise God for his mercy.

Because something tells me this isn’t the only “vase” he will have to break before I fully learn this lesson. Despite my head-knowledge of just how great my shortcomings are, my prideful hearts means that doing nothing out of selfish ambition and vain conceit and thinking of others as better than myself comes about as naturally to me as bawling during a chick flick.

The good news is that God’s love is infinitely better (and more permanent) than thrift-store flowers and hot glue. And he will never throw me out, even if when he finds me lying in pieces on the floor again.

And I am so, so very thankful for that.

P.S. Our Lisa Leonard + Noonday giveaways are ending TONIGHT. Don’t miss out!

P.P.S. That chevron “thankful” print is from Jones Design Company. (You can still enter a giveaway to win some of Emily’s favorite things too!).

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5 Things Thursday: Confessions of a Feartrovert

Hi, my name is Abbie, and I’m a feartrovert.

(and, yes, I did just make that word up, as far as I know).

I mentioned on Monday that, although The Declare Conference was fabulous, I did not enjoy every single second of it. And then I told you that I would explain what I meant later. And I’ve been regretting saying that ever since.

Why?

Because I’m a feartrovert

(noun: one who allows social interactions to be tainted by fear or anxiety).

And, as soon as I said that, I realized that once I did explain, there was at least a 78% chance of my sounding like a maladjusted weirdo, which would, of course, result in your despising me and refusing to ever read my blog again and maybe spending actual minutes of your day telling others about what a weenie I am.

See? Total feartrovert. not given us a spirt of fear

I’ve been seeing this post debunking common myths about introverts popping up in a lot of my friends’ Facebook feeds and thought it was an interesting read, especially since I related to several introverted traits, even though I’ve never thought of myself as an introvert. Truth to tell, I’ve never thought of myself as an extrovert either. I’m not a big fan of labels, helpful though they often are.

Instead I just know things about myself—things like: I like being around people a lot, but I like being by myself just as much (if not more, depending on the day). I also get a bit jittery at the mere thought of conferences full of women, talking and sharing their feelings and going on about dreams. A big part of me would rather sit on the couch behind my computer screen and just chat with you guys. And even though I love meeting new people, after an entire day of it, I need an entire night of recuperation at home with my family.                                               {via}

Of course, none of these things are either bad or good. They just are. And I’m fine with that. I have been know to call myself “the most unsocial social person you will ever meet,” simply because I am likely to be the one telling stories at a party (which I enjoy) or even compulsively filling the awkward silences (which I do not), and I’ve always been a teacher and an entertainer (in a very small capacity), which feels natural to me. BUT I probably wouldn’t choose the situation that got me into story-telling mode over a night at home with my husband or sometimes even just watching a movie alone (which, yeah, never happens these days).

When a true extrovert tells me that they are energized just by being in a room full of people, I inwardly cringe a little, which tells me that—nope—that’s not me.

And when my sweet new friend, Heather, and I were having a conversation about the woes of pumping for our nursing babies while at conferences, she said that just such an occurrence had been an unexpected boon for her because it forced to her to take a break from all the socializing and just be alone with herself (and God) to process things, even though she would have never chosen to be away from the social buzz on her own. I had to laugh a little because it was the first night of the conference, and I’d already snuck away to my room twice to hide a little. Not sure I processed much other than: is it too late to just go home?

Are you surprised to know this about me? My own mother was when I told her about the sneaking-away-to-my-room bit. I know I don’t come across as introverted in any way here (or in “real life”), and I’m not even sure if I am, but what I do know is that whenever I bypass introverted and extroverted altogether and become feartroverted (because it’s certainly not a constant state), I am no longer being the complex, neither-this-nor-that-and-that’s-okay child of God I was created to be. I am no longer listening to the guidance of my loving Father who wants to use my specific personality to bring Him glory. Instead, I am heeding the Enemy’s lies.

Lies like:

1.

You’re not good enough.

On the surface, this isn’t such a heinous untruth. I am not good enough at many things to do them justice. For example, I am not good enough at math to be a theoretical physicist (heck, some days my brain is so mushy that I’m not good enough at math to make correct change). Nor do I want to be.

I am not good enough at singing to star on Broadway. And that’s fine.

But when I’m sitting on my hotel bed instead of attending a session because I’m not good enough to be out there mingling with other Christian bloggers, there’s something wrong.

Of course, the reasons I was sitting on that bed were much more complex than that. Because I know that comparison goes both ways, and I could probably find somebody out there that I felt better than to boost my morale from the blow it had taken after noticing all the people who seemed to be doing this blogging business so much better than I.

Another lie I believe when I give into the fear is that:

2.

You’ll never make it.

I don’t honestly even know what “make it” means. But as I rambled on to my husband, who was talking me down from my {mild} panic attack, my number one concern was the enormous amount of work and commitment and stress and work and time and—oh yeah—work it would take to achieve my dream of traditional book publication. I mean, howamIsupposedtopullthatoffwith5smallchildrenandcounting?? (Takes deep draught from imaginary inhaler). And what about all these people here who have “made it” and who are still having to work so hard to keep “making it?” Ugh. Do I even want that? Is that what I’m called to?

Which brings me to yet another fearful lie:

3.

No one would be interested in what I have to say anyway.

I mean, who am I? Just a mama. And not even a very good one at that. I mean, practically every other almost 3-year-old I know is potty-trained. Especially the girls. But not mine. What a slacker. Who am I to think I can tell anyone anything? Who am I to encourage anyone else to be a better Christian when I’m struggling to haul myself out of bed early enough to get my Bible reading done? Who am I to cheer fellow mothers on to discipline well when I just made a cutting remark to my 7-year-old for no good reason?

After all:

4.

I’m better off just giving up now.

I just need to lower my expectations. I’m clearly not cut out for this make-a-difference business.

Because:

5.

God would be better off using someone else.

…………………………………………………………………………….

Ouch, right?

Reading all of that, you’re probably amazed that I managed to peel myself off the bed and limp out the door to face a conference full of clearly better-than-me, over-the-top fabulous bloggers who were probably all laughing at me behind my back and rolling their eyes at my pathetic attempts to teach them anything.

The thing is, I was fine (better than fine!) for most of the conference. But pretty much all of those thoughts hit me hard and heavy during the15 minutes I spent making a few final tweaks to a presentation that I’d felt fantastic about 5 minutes before. I am so grateful that after I sent a mayday text to my husband, he called me immediately and let me pour my fears through my cell phone into his oh-so-wise ear.

perfect love As he encouraged me and prayed over me, I began to remember important truths…like: I am good enough to do anything that God has called me to do because He has made me good enough. It has nothing do with my own merit or talents (which He gave me, by the way) and everything to do with His grace. Because “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Also, I may never get a book published. And it is A LOT of work, but if I’m supposed to do it, and I’m willing to invest the effort necessary to do it well, God will be the one who determines whether I “make it” or not. Plus, as far as making a difference goes, as Shaun pointed out, if all I ever accomplished God ever accomplished through my writing was to encourage you in ways that you have already written and told me that He has, it would be enough. 

By the time I hung up, I was feeling much better. Why? Because my Father loves me, and one of the best ways He shows it is through my husband’s love for me. Love’s like that. It delights in building up, not tearing down. Because “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

When I give into my feartroverted tendencies, I am not walking in love. Not only that, but (and it feels so arrogant to say it) I’m missing out on my chance to be perfect. Not in the way that the world defines it, certainly. But in God’s eyes.

The feartrovert in me wouldn’t have let me leave that hotel room to give my “Making the Most of DIY Blogging” presentation—a topic which seems so trivial on the surface but which segued into a heartfelt conversation afterwards about balance and comparisons and expectations with a fellow young mama and a precious, seasoned Titus 2 lady who both admitted to struggling with all of the same issues but were determined to soldier on in their calling until such a time as God made it clear that they had a new one.

I write all of this for two reasons:

1) I need to hear it. It helps me to record it, acknowledge my tendencies, and then give them to God. I’m not wallowing. But I am being honest.

and

2) You need to hear it. Even though I attempt to keep it very real up in here, I still get the occasional, “You. are. Wonder Woman” comments. And, oh, how they make me laugh. In fact, during the Q&A after my session, one of the sweet ladies said, “Oh man. I feel so behind. I mean, here you are doing all this, and with 5 kids. And I’ve only got 3…” And I interrupted her and said, “You want to know what I was doing in my hotel room this morning? Hyperventilating. Because everybody here is so much more awesome than I am.”

Note to self: There is always someone that seems like they’ve got it more together than you do. And they just might. But you don’t know their story or the fears that Satan shoots at them like fiery darts hoping to send their God-given callings crashing down in flames.

Come to think of it…

Feartroversion is for the birds. I’d rather be a Godtrovert any day of the week.

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Move-it Monday: A Guest Post from Emmeline, the (disgruntled) DIY Tufted Ottoman

Hi there, Five days…5 ways readers.

I would start with all that mushy stuff that Abbie’s other guest-posters do about feeling so excited and happy to be here, but, quite frankly, I’m not. I do deserve to be here, though. It’s my right. And Abbie knows it, so let’s just skip the malarkey and cut straight to heart of the matter, shall we?

I’m Emmeline, the DIY tufted ottoman.

(Abbie added that “disgruntled” part in the title; I’m not disgruntled; okay, so maybe I am…a little; but mostly I just want justice; geez, with the labeling and stuff; she’s so passive aggressive; ANYway…*deep breath*).

You guys might remember me from this post, when I looked a little something like this:

Purdy, huh? *Sigh* Those were the days.

Back then, Abbie was super-proud of me. See how she even put me up there at the very top of the left-hand side of her blog-page, thingy, deal.

And she should have been proud. After all, she put a good 10 hours into making me. And I repaid her by bringing her lots of new friends.

I even got pinned (ouch!) a lot of times on something-or-other called…Pinobsession….no, that’s not right. Pin-it-and-then-never-actually-do-it? No, that’s not it either. Anyway, it’s some sort of internet phenomenon that has all these women sitting and staring at it for days without eating or drinking, much less doing laundry or feeding their children.

But I digress.

The point of this guest-post is to draw to your attention a betrayal of the worst sort.

Because you deserve to know what Abbie’s truly like.

You see, after suffering all kinds of indignities over the last year and 1/2—countless juice spills and peanut butter smears, innumerable pillow fights where I took at least as many shots as what those little hooligans Abbie calls her children were actually aiming at, and even several instances of serving as a handkerchief to sop up the snot of that little bitty thing with the flowy hair—she’s replaced me. (Abbie, not the little one).

Here’s how it went down:

She spent a whole lot of time sitting on the couch after Thanksgiving, staring at her computer screen and muttering about Black Friday deals, whatever those are. Mostly, I just blocked her out. Believe me, she talks to herself enough and does more than enough hollering at her offspring that if you didn’t turn a deaf ear to most of it, you’d go as batty as she obviously is.

But then she sat up a little straighter, and her eyes got brighter, and she started jabbering things like “French yellow tufted ottoman in linen.” And I started to get worried.

Turns out for good reason.

I mean, sure, I wasn’t exactly looking my best.

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Those darn little ankle-biters pulled off all but two of my buttons!

And then there was the fact that Abbie never actually bothered to finish my nail-head trim.

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I overheard her tell that really cute tall man who’s always around that they should do it “this weekend,” but apparently, it never was “this weekend,” because it didn’t happen.

I just kept hanging onto hope though, content in the knowledge that she wouldn’t—no, couldn’t—forget my loyalty.

I did start to worry, though—when she popped out 2 (TWO!) more future juice-spillers—that she might never get around to restoring me to my former, blog-worthy glory.

And then—THEN—a big box showed up…and out came this:

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Okay, so maybe it is kind of pretty in all its French yellow linen…ness.

And it doesn’t have any juice stains (yet) and has all its buttons.

And it was a pretty good deal with free shipping even (I took a peek at her receipt when she wasn’t looking).

But seriously? I’m DIY. And that thing’s…not.  That makes her a total faker, right? Right!

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Ugh. I just can’t stop myself with the pictures.

Anyway, I just thought you ought to know the kind of girl you’re dealing with.

Sure, she claims that she intends to revamp me (someday), but we all know how that’ll probably never happen with all those little people running around.

Honestly, the only consolation I have is that pretty soon, little Miss Yellow Britches is going to look like this:

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{Unless, of course, Abbie actually makes that protective covering she keeps talking about}.

But, for now, she looks like this:

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Grrrrr…Must. stop. looking.

And I’ve been relegated to a corner of the workshop.

I mean, there really is no justice in the world, is there?

But at least now you know. I’ve been replaced. Feel free to leave multitudinous comments expressing your outrage.

Until we meet again…Adieu (take that, Frenchie!)

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Wardrobe Wednesday: The Shirt Dress

Hey guys! I have somebody I want you to meet.

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{No, that’s not my long-lost twin; read on, dear folks}

Or something, rather. But that just sounds weird.

Either way, I’ll get on with the introductions.

Blog friends, meet my new favorite outfit.

Outfit, blog friends.

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So…what’s so great about her?

Well, she’s uber-comfy and forgiving (a fitted waist with a flair on all the bulgy parts? yes, please!).

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Plus, hello? Red pants. You know I love me some pops of color.

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And then there are the stripes. And patterns are definitely a close second behind color for me.

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Yeah, I’m a fan.

Oh! And let’s not forget the bag, which is my idea of the perfect blend blend of classy and funky (I really do need to snap a shot of the lining so y’all can fully appreciate the “funky” reference).IMG_6178

So…wanna hear a secret?

That shirt is actually a dress.

From the girls’ section at the Gap outlet.

I hesitate to tell you that since I can see quite a few of you rolling your eyes in disgust and exclaiming, “You have got to be kidding me that this chick can shop in the little girls’ section!”

But, really, the “little” girls’ section of many stores like Gap or Target or even J. Crew is not so little after all.

The fit can be a bit strange for a full grown woman—with narrow shoulders and too short hems and such.

And I promise you I am definitely a full grown woman.

I’m almost 5’7”.

And I exercise a lot, which means no skinny arms or legs here.

Plus, I’ve got a good (bad?) 10-20 (!!!) pounds of baby weight left to lose (depending on my weight at any given point in the past 2 years), so this is not me at my lightest wearing clothes from the girls’ section. 

And I’m still only wearing the second to largest size they had.

Granted, it might not work past a size 8 or so. 

But I say all this to encourage you to at least give it a try the next time you spot something cute (half the time, I like the clothes from the girls’ section at Target better than the women’s. Though…after this experiment, that may not surprise you too much).

And the best part of all? Girls’ clothes are typically a little cheaper than the women’s version. {I got my shirt/dress off the clearance rack for a little over $5 (with a 40% off coupon)}.

So, what do you think of my little secret?

Too weird?

Do you ever shop outside your designated section? (I’ve also been known to raid the little boys’ and the men’s athletic sections).

P.S. For the record, I do not buy pants from the little girls’ section. Why? One word: hips.

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