Category Archives: I like to tell stories

A Clothing Confession + a Tile Tight Spot

Did you know that there’s not a “t” word that means: “predicament?” At least not one that I could think of or that Google could help me out with.

I know because I looked so I could achieve maximum alliteration in today’s post title (#wordnerd).

But that is entirely beside the point because this post is about two very different topics, which are only connected by the tenuous thread of one having been photographed on top of another.

First up, a confession:

I took the 4 youngest to Goodwill last Friday because, between the red dirt and the sheet rock dust and the concrete floors and sub-floors and plywood that my children are all pretty well constantly rolling around on, rubbing up against, and/or attempting, in some form or another, to embed into their persons…most of their clothes are trashed.

Which is fine because their play clothes were getting pretty worn out already, but, with our home school co-op starting in a week and 1/2 and cooler temperatures coming (ahem…in another 5 months), it was time to get a few “new” things for the chitlins.

But wait. That’s not the confession.

Here goes: I bought two things for me too.

**hangs head in shame

I had already determined that, given my self-imposed 6 month clothing fast, I wouldn’t even cast my eyes in the direction of the women’s department. And I didn’t. Pinky promise.

HOWEVER, as we were entering the clothing area, there was a rack set up with a bunch of miscellaneous items on it. And what did my eyes behold but a pair of neutral TOMS wedge booties–the likes of which I have eyed up every fall season for the past 5 years. No lie. I just haven’t ever managed to make myself bite the bullet to buy an $80 pair of shoes that should cost half that (in my not-so-humble opinion). They were in fantastic condition, minus a faint gray mark on one (which I was pretty sure I could get out), and I snatched them up, squinting at the tag–half-hoping/half-fearing they would be my size.

And you know what? They were! (Size 9–I have big feet), and, when I slipped them on, they fit like a dream. I put them in my cart and went on my merry way, not entirely sure I would buy them, but half giddy at the potential.

I spent the next hour alternating between combing through the children’s racks, feeding Honor while standing up and combing through the children’s racks, and–toward the end–breaking up squabbles between the twins and Theo while combing through the children’s racks (for the first 45 minutes, they were playing happily with the toys, which Goodwill had had the good sense to relocate next to the children’s section).

Halfway through all of this combing, I stumbled upon another item that I’ve had on my mental wish list for years: a black/white buffalo check puffer vest.

I love puffer vests. In East Texas, we don’t have much use for full on coats–even during the winter–so puffer vests are a great way to stay toasty on a chilly (but still not truly cold) day. I have several, all of which I wear regularly in the colder months, but I’ve had my eye out for this particular style for ages.

And there it was, wedged between a 3T tutu and a size 8 pair of jeans. Because that’s just how Goodwill rolls.

It, too, had a small mark I was pretty sure I could get out but was otherwise perfect, and it fit!

So, into my basket it went.

master tile

I debated all the way to the front whether I would buy them and almost took them out of my basket several times, but in the end, buy them I did.

Because, ultimately, the purpose of my fast is to eliminate impulse (“but it’s so cute and CHEAP!”) purchases of things that only ever get worn once and then spend the rest of their dejected lives stuffed in a closet corner–NOT to pass up good quality staples at great prices that I’ve had in mind for a long time.

Anyhoo, I promised to keep you updated, and now I have, so there you go! Back to fasting!

(P.S. Both of the marks came out like a dream)

Moving on, can we talk about that pretty tile from the picture above?

I love it!

Except…and it’s a really big except.

But first a little background…

After the frenzy of getting moved in, things have slowed down considerably in the DIY department–partially because they finally could, partially because of summer, and partially because Shaun has been utterly slammed with his day job.

That last reason has been the biggest deciding factor in choosing to hire out a few of the finishing things, and tile was pretty high on his list of, “I’d rather nots/don’t have times.”

We found someone able to start the day we left for Gulf Shores, Alabama (3 weeks ago) and came home to a lovely tiled kitchen…

tiled kitchen

and downstairs bath…

downstairs bath tile

That was fun!

Not as fun?

This:

master tile1

(See all of the dark areas? They’re not an optical illusion. There really is more grout in those spaces)

That would be the master bathroom tiled with all of that lovely black and white penny tile. I chose gray grout to hide stains, but, unfortunately, the area in front of the sink ended up showing the grid patterns of the mosaic tiles (they come in approximately 1 sq. foot sections).

master tile2

{See the lines?}

Honestly, we’re not sure what happened. The area to the right where the tub will be does NOT show the grid lines. At least not nearly as noticeably. And the same person did the work almost entirely at the same time. So, why the application is so much better on the first 8 feet is beyond me.

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(This whole area in front of the window is considerably more even. Almost no areas of concentrated grout}

Another problem?

We ran out of tile.

Doh.

I mean, measure twice and install once, right, Abbie?

You guys. I measure a GAJILLION times. And I ordered 10% extra for waste.

But then, we decided to use the same tile on the shower floor. But even then, we did the math, and we should have been fine.

Except that it turned out that a lot of the tiles had issues. Irregularities. Missing pieces, broken tiles. Etcetera.

So, we ended up one row short.

I ordered more from Overstock, thinking it would be no big deal. I mean, it was the same manufacturer, and I had only ordered the first batch last fall.

Double doh.

The tiles were DIFFERENT. Not to the naked eye, really. Same design. But they’re slightly more off-white, slightly thicker (in height), and more beveled…all subtle differences that look anything but subtle once the gray grout is in.

master tile2

{See the super white strip on the far left? Yeah. Triple Doh}

So, here we are, with half a beautifully tiled master bath, 45% a streaky, segmented mess of a master bath, and one ridiculous-looking strip of non-matching tile.

It kind of makes me sick to my stomach because it’s so permanent.

We haven’t really had any big uh-ohs during this build, for which I’m grateful. But I’m not going to lie. I’m pretty disappointed about this one.

Which is where you come in. Has anyone else ever installed mosaic tile squares, only to have the squares themselves show up super obviously when grouted? I have a feeling I wouldn’t have even noticed the lines if we’d used white grout, but I also know the grout wouldn’t have stayed white-looking for long.

If you have experienced this, did you find a way to fix or diminish the effect? We’re going to give the extra-thick grout lines a good scrubbing in hopes of minimizing the impression of segmentation, but I know that won’t completely fix it.

And when it comes to the non-matching tiles, there’s literally nothing I can think of but adding a rug runner directly in front of the sink to hide it.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s no big deal. I mean, it’s a floor. In a house. Which is a blessing. We are grateful.

In the small picture, though, I’d really love to find a way to “fix” it as much as possible.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might have!

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Wedding Dress Success!

First and foremost, THANK YOU for your encouragement on Monday’s post. Seriously. I read each comment, and I was just so blessed by your words. Also, for those of you who wanted a cuff of your own, the brand is Lenny and Eva. Here’s the exact saying.

Okay, so the “wedding dress” in the title of this post is a bit misleading, but “A Dress to Wear to the Wedding Success” just didn’t have quite the same ring. (And, in fact, is quite confusing…as if there might have been a dress to wear to a wedding failure too).

Either way…

I found my dress! At least, I hope I did. I ordered it…in two sizes, no less. But it hasn’t actually gotten here, so I guess we’ll see.

But the process? Ugh. Never, and I mean NEVER, get an idea stuck in your head about what to wear to a specific event. Trust me. It’s a pain.

Sadly, in spite of all that looking, my search was not over because I couldn’t get happy with (or find my size in) any of the options that I blogged about.

Shaun is gone on a work trip, which means by 9 PM, when the last child has asked for the last glass of water, and the last plate has been loaded in the dishwasher, I. am. done.

I always have grandiose visions of getting tons done once the kids are in bed, but…then reality sets in like a ton of bricks, and I wonder if I’ll ever get off the couch again, much less do something useful with myself.

And so, I’ve spent the last several nights somewhat catatonic on the couch, listening to my Audible book as I scroll through page after page of some of the most unattractive maxi dresses I have ever seen. We’re talking brown and sage micro-print muumuus and electric purple and yellow camo with hiiiiiiiigh-looooow hems.

When I did my original post, I hadn’t remembered to check ModCloth, but when I did (sometime around the end of last week), I felt hopeful. There were quite a few cute options, but, for one reason or another (usually price, the wrong sizes, or a review saying that the fit or quality was bad), none of them quite clicked.

Until I spotted this one.

eliza j

It grabbed my attention immediately.

But then, I noticed the price. $199.

Gulp.

Never mind.

And so the search continued.

Then, two nights ago, I got the bright idea to scroll through all of Anthropologie’s maxi dresses and note their designers so that, instead of scrolling aimlessly through thousands of listings that pulled up in response to my “floral maxi dress” search, I could try to find dresses from a specific designer I loved.

And–lo and behold–what did my eyes see?

anthro eliza j

Yup. The same dress. This time for $178 (I was honestly amazed that another store charged more for something than Anthro). And, again, I was immediately drawn to the dress…but not the price tag.

But I least now I knew the designer. Eliza J. Which, incidentally, is the same designer of this dress that the majority of you favored from my original post. A dress that I probably would have bought if they had had my size in stock.

nordstrom rack floral

Oh, and of this one (which wasn’t quite the style I was looking for but still sooooo pretty) that I drooled over on the Modcloth site too.

eliza j black dress

(Waaaaay cheaper on Amazon here)

This lady makes good stuff!

And so the search continued. I scoured Ebay, Poshmark, Tradesy, and the internet at large for the ModCloth/Anthro  Eliza J dress. With no luck.

Until…I somehow stumbled upon a site that claimed that Nordstrom (where I had already looked but somewhere missed it) had it…on SALE for 40% off!

Every other time something had lined up this well, some other glitch had emerged (usually not having my size in stock), so I squinted really hard, clicked the link, and was pretty much shocked to discover that they had both of my possible sizes available. Whaaaaaaaa?

Could it be?

And the best thing of all is that Nordstrom has free shipping both ways, so I ordered both, lickety split, and have my fingers crossed that one of them will work.

Now, I will freely admit that, even at 40% off, this was not a cheap dress. BUT! I was willing to pay $95 for this dress for several reasons: 1) I was reeeeeeally sick of looking for something that I liked in any price range and was definitely not finding it in my optimal $30-$50 bracket, 2) Shaun had already said he was fine with my spending more on a special occasion, and 3) if I choose to, I am 110% confident that I can wear this dress once and then sell it for a profit on an  Anthropologie Buy Sell Trade Facebook page that I’m a member of.

Of course, then I compounded my “problem” by falling in love with the shoes that the girl in the ModCloth pic is wearing.

teal heels

I clicked the link expecting them to be $80 but was pleasantly surprised to discover that they were “only” $40 (I’m telling you: a weeks-long search for something specific will chip away at your bargain-loving resolve until every price tag looks relative to the YIKES! NO WAY! version you saw two minutes before).

I can honestly say that I’ve never spent more than $100 on an outfit for a specific occasion other than my wedding, but I’m just so relieved to be done with this one (and yes, pretty tickled to be receiving pretties in the mail soon) that I’m calling it a win.

What do you think of my pick? Worth the work? (Um, no dress is worth this much bother, so don’t answer that too honestly).

I would say that this saga is finished, but I guess we all know that–if the dress doesn’t fit (or even if it does)–I’ll be blogging about it. To quote my favorite line from The Devil Wears Prada (other than: “When I think I’m going to faint, I eat a cube of cheese”)…”GIRD YOUR LOOOINS!”

Oh, and have a happy Hump Day, okay?

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Meet Jo-Jo, the Unexpected Buffet

I mentioned last week in my solo Dallas trip recap that I’d been on the lookout for specific house items (which I didn’t find) but found something I really hadn’t been looking for and couldn’t be happier. And I promised to show it to you in full this week. Welp. I just barely squeaked in under my own self-imposed deadline, but I did it!

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Meet Jo-Jo (yes, in honor of Joanna Gaines from yesterday’s post…I’m sure she would be honored. Or she might take out a restraining order. You know, whichever).

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I happened upon Jo-Jo when I did an impulsive Craigslist search for “buffet” in the Dallas area while lying in my friend, Lisa’s, super-comfy guestbed. I already had buffet, which I loved and had scored an incredible deal on (you can see it here), but it just wasn’t quite meshing with my style anymore, so I had decided to sell it–oh–a whopping two days before.

buffet6

I didn’t expect to find a replacement quickly, and I did expect anything I found in my price range to be a major project. But all that changed as soon as this beauty popped up. It just so happened to be in the same area I was heading in the morning, and I just so happened to be able to talk them down $50 from their original asking price.

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Done and done!

buffet1

Of course, there was that moment of feeling like a complete moron when I texted, “I’m here, but I don’t see the place,” only to realize that I had selected World Market instead of my actual destination from “recently found addresses.” Fortunately, the actual meeting place was close by, but trying to explain to a complete stranger that you aren’t actually “here” because you’re at World Market instead is a little awkward.

buffet10

But scoring a gorgeous, completely done (no project for me, what?!) piece that was even more perfect for the space (did you see the rug I already had?) than I had dared to dream, complete with Anthro knobs? (Cuz you know I love me some great knobs). Totally worth looking like a total spaz to someone I will never see again.

Also, can we talk about finding pine cones in your driveway on your way back from taking pictures of your offspring holding a giant six and actually having the presence of mind to bring them inside and then remember to decorate with them before said offspring find them and scatter them all over the house?? I tell you what, if you were less than impressed with my GPS skills, you should be totally in awe of my decorating-from-nature skills right now.

buffet buffet3 buffet9

Oh, and in case you were wondering about sources (not that most of these will be very helpful since most are old or were on major clearance to begin with).

Table runner: Target (clearance, a few months ago)

Lamps: Goodwill

Chalkboard: Barn Sale

Number 6: Marshall’s

White bowl: Anthro (major clearance from several months back)

“Home” print: Urban Outfitters (sold out)

Rug: Urban Outifitters (It’s already a great price for an 8X10 rug, and I got mine for 20% off, so you might watch for a sale; just be aware it’s pretty thin and will need a rug pad underneath)

Pine Cones: my driveway (if you live in E. Texas, you’ll have NO trouble rustling up some of your own)

Ever just “stumbled” on an unexpected treasure when you were least expecting it? This seems to be my “m.o.” as I rarely find exactly what I’m looking for if I have it on a list.

Any suggestions for cheap rug pad sources? I haven’t looked too hard yet, but I’m fast discovering that they can cost practically as much as a rug.

Are you bad at GPS too? I’m even fairly incompetent when it comes to typing in the address on the little screen. My husband can do it in a snap, but heaven forbid that type something in wrong because I can’t get the darn backspace button to work for the life of me!

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Chartreuse Chanteuse

Okay, so the title of this post is not strictly accurate. Yes, I’m wearing chartreuse, but I’m no chanteuse. I mean, I am female, and I like to sing, but the last time I frequented a nightclub was…never. Still, how often do you get a chance to throw such a fun and funky word around? Yes, I agree. I had to. 

So, let’s talk about this skirt.

It’s originally from LOFT, but I, of course, scored it at Goodwill for $4 as part of this round of the 30 Minute GW Challenge.

IMG_4306

When I showed it to my husband, his brow crinkled, and he said, “Wait. Don’t you have that skirt already?”

To which I replied (with a generous eye roll), “No, baby, that other skirt is a maxi. This one’s totally different.” (Although, if we’re being honest, I immediately knew which skirt he meant–see it here–so maybe that “totally” before the “different” wasn’t completely necessary).    IMG_4309

I almost missed my chance to wear this skirt during this pregnancy, but managed to squeeeeze everything (AKA my growing girth) in there without feeling too constricted.

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Oh, and now let’s talk about this shirt. Remember how I styled it 3 ways way back when? Well, I don’t know that I’ve worn it since. Apparently, I had such great ideas of all the ways that I could wear it that, in my brain, I had worn it all those ways, numerous times, and was done! But seriously, the main reason I do not wear it often is because a) my husband does not care for it at. all. and b) it is a bit on the loud side.

But, I don’t know–that limey-green skirt just seemed like it was begging for something that matched its level of cheerful obnoxiousness.

And, finally, since we’re on this whole talking about my clothes bit (okay, okay, I am), we can’t forget the shoes.

IMG_4312

I was standing in Target with my girls one afternoon staring at–no lie–at least 50 pairs of size 7 1/2 Mossimo gold shimmer flats (I took a picture for Instagram because…how could I not??) when I saw a girl wobbling around in these fabulous red wedges, trying to convince herself that her ankles weren’t swimming in the gaping openings.

I eavesdropped discreetly on her conversation with her friends and discovered that the shoes were size 9 1/2 and were only $9. And she wanted them to work sooooo badly, but they seemed a “little loose.” (Yes, and Mt. Everest is “kind of tall”).

At which point, I chimed in with just the right amount of sympathy and wise agreement, “Man, they are reeeeeally cute on you, but they definitely look too big around the ankle. That seems like it would get old.”

At which point, she pulled a disappointed face, took them off, put them back, and then walked away.

At WHICH point, I–resisting the urge to muahahaha and rub my hands together like a super-villain–snatched them up and plunked them in my cart.

Here’s the deal, I knew that my ankles would be long lost in those cavernous openings too. But my almost-32-year-old DIY obsessed mind knew something that her young, undeveloped must-buy-everything-perfect 18-year-old consciousness had never dared to think: you can hot glue shoes!!!

I got those suckers home, and they languished in my garage for a week and 1/2, but then in a frenzy of “must wear loud shoes with the loud skirt and the LOUD shirt to church,” I snipped the straps on those beautiful, wobbly red shoes, reapplied them more tightly with generous globs of glue, and–VOILA!–they fit like a dream. (Except that I have a small blister on the back of my right heel from a dried bit of hot glue I didn’t get off).

So…moral of the story? Never be afraid to feign concern while manipulating someone out of buying a perfectly repairable pair of fabulous shoes. Because this is the kind of life lesson that applies in so many scenarios.

So, what about you guys? Have you ever talked someone out of buying something only to swoop in and take it home for yourself? I miiiiiiight be a repeat offender on this one.

‘Fess up: did you know what a “chanteuse” was before you read this post? I had to look it up to make sure I was right (I was) and wasn’t going to accidentally end up calling myself a “lady of the night.”

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I went on a date with myself, and I LIKED it!

Until I actually read about what defines the terms “extrovert” and “introvert,” I always assumed that I was an extrovert because I am talkative, expressive, and downright goofy sometimes. I’m not the least bit afraid to speak in public. And I like people. (Mostly : )).

In other words, I’m not shy.

But I don’t love crowds. I don’t naturally go out of my way to introduce myself to new people, and that part in church where they make you stand up, turn around, and greet everybody always makes me feel a bit twitchy.

Also? I really like being by myself (which is hilarious since I am almost never fully alone). Shopping, watching a movie in the theater, doing chores–it’s all good. I remember a vacation with my family when I was 20 or so where I spent a good chunk of it by the pool, completely alone, reading my book, and it was heavenly.

As much as I love a good party, I wouldn’t say that just being around people recharges me, which seems to be one of the banner qualities of a true extrovert.

All of which means that I don’t really know what I am. But regardless of labels, I do know this: when I tried to organize a trip to Dallas with some friends, and it kept not working, and I finally decided to just go ahead and go all by my lonesome, it was not a daunting prospect but rather an exhilarating one.

So, a few weeks back, I dropped off my kids at my awesome Mama’s house and set off for the Big D, armed with a list of specific places I wanted to visit and things I hoped to find (mostly for the house).

And you know what? I loved every second of it. I loved the drive in silence. I loved browsing the clearance racks at my own, pokey pace (seriously, don’t ever come shopping with me if you’re in a hurry; I’m a dawdler). I loved eating exactly what I wanted when I wanted. Some friends of ours let me stay at their house for the night, even though they weren’t there, and I even loved sleeping in someone else’s house all by myself. The better to raid their underwear drawers, right? (LISA! I’m kidding!!!! I did not open any closed doors except the refrigerator and pantry…thanks for the cereal + milk, by the way!).

Although, I did take a peak inside her kids’ adorable rooms and even snapped a few pics to share with you guys (with her permission, of course).

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Isn’t that teal dresser divine? But wait, it gets better.

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See that ah-mazing bedding? Lisa made that, triple-layered ruffle bed-skirt and all!

Before I even left for Dallas, I stopped at my favorite nail salon (that I hadn’t been to in at least 6 months), and this happened. dallas10

The guy doing my toes was hilarious because he overheard my neighbor asking me about kids, and once he heard how many I have and that I had one on the way, he proceeded to inform me about all of the lucky numbers that I should strive for and the sketchy ones I should avoid (apparently, 7 and 9 are good, but I should by no means stop at 6 or 8…oooooookey dokey).

We have a small outlet mall between us and Dallas, so my first shopping stop was the GAP, where I discovered this:

gap clearance-001

An additional 50% off clearance? Um, yes. I ended up buying two things for myself (one of which was a pair of white, stretchy, majorly vanity-sized capri jeans that should fit throughout my pregnancy all while “telling” me that I am a very skinny girl, indeed. I don’t usually like being lied to, but I’m pretty okay with it if I’ve paid a whopping $13 for it) and managed to find something for everyone else in the family, except Little Bit.

Even though I spent a long time gazing lovingly at this rack, I just couldn’t seem to find something I quite loved.

gap baby-001

Oh, and before I went to GAP, I ate half of this (and then inhaled the rest afterward; thanks to that whole pregnancy phenomenon of filling up really fast and then being hungry again 30 minutes later):

schlotzsky's

I got a late start on the trip, so by the time I finished with GAP and made it all the way to Dallas, I only had time left for one other store.

So, naturally I chose…anthro collage

Yup, that would be Anthro. I don’t think there’s a single other store I’m as content to browse in without buying.

I ended up only getting two tiny jars for $8 (total), but I strongly considered these:

anthro shoes

…and this top

anthro top dallas4

Which, coincidentally, matched each other perfectly.

Ultimately, though, I couldn’t stomach the (deeply clearanced) price tags, so I passed.

After a wonderfully uninterrupted night’s sleep, I set off for World Market, whose wares I’ve long admired online but which I’d never actually visited in person.

I wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped to be, but a few things did catch my eye.

Like this table + tufted chairs set.

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And this quirky lion plate. dallas7

Not to mention this colorful pillow.

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But, ultimately, the only thing I couldn’t live without was this:

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Why, yes, those are two large jars of Nutella. From World Market. They were 50% off, y’all–a total steal!

After World Market, I headed to Ikea, which was a madhouse. I’ve only ever been to Ikea a grand total of maybe 6 or 7 times, but it’s been a madhouse every single time. So, apparently, I should stop calling it “madhouse” and just say, “I went to Ikea. It was normal.”

ikea

In keeping with my theme of sparse, rather unconventional purchases, I ended up at the checkout with only these items, all of which are conspicuously neutral and classic for a lover of funky color like myself. What can I say? I like classic too. (And Ikea’s fake plants = pure awesomeness).

I didn’t end up finding much of anything on my list, but I did make one surprise discovery on Craigslist that wasn’t even on that list.

Here’s a sneak peek.

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Intrigued? Hope so because I’ll be showing you more next week (I know better than to think I’ll actually get it done this week).

I finished off the trip with my favorite burrito bowl from Chipotle:

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(Goodness! I’m getting hungry!)

And then, just for the heck of it, as I was eating, I searched my GPS for other Anthros and discovered another one on the same street as Chipotle, 5 minutes away (totally unexpected considering there are only 3 in all of Dallas). I ducked in for a few minutes and walked out with yet another little $4 jar and this guy:

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See my cow? No? Well, do you see my pig? Yup. I have to admit that I bought that butter dish from Anthro fully convinced I was bringing home a ceramic bovine, but my entire family informed me that it was actually a pig. (Moink!)

So, the big question is: does a solo trip to the city sound like fun or torture or somewhere in between to you? Don’t worry. I don’t think it means anything too terribly much about your character either way. But it’s an interesting question to ponder, right?

Do you know how to define your personality? In simplest terms, I would say that I’m an introverted extrovert…or an extroverted introvert…depending on the day. It’s complicated.

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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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Wardrobe Wednesday: Do these pants make my legs look uneven?

I have really strong bones.

And tendons too.

Seriously.

I have played more sports with more enthusiasm than anyone should be allowed to without breaking a single itty-bitty bone or truly spraining one single appendage.

On an interesting side note, I have a rib that sticks out at an odd angle courtesy, as far as I can tell, of Baby #2, and one of my legs is now longer than the other (also after Baby #2…he did a number on me!) so much so that my friend who’s an occupational therapist full-out laughed when she assessed my hip misalignment.

Go figure.

I can slam full-speed into walls while playing racquetball, get slide-tackled more times than I can count in soccer,  take a line-drive to the ribs as a pitcher, and be a willing participant in any number of other potentially bone-breaking/body-damaging scenarios and walk away with little more than a scratch.

But do something 100% natural like house a baby in my body for 9 months, and suddenly one pant leg is longer than the other, and my rib is poking at my skin when I lie down.

By the way, if you’re wondering what any of this has to do with Wardrobe Wednesday, the answer is pretty much zilch.

But last night, during an exercise class, I landed wrong on one foot (with my other foot in the air, I might add), and my ankle buckled completely sideways under my full body weight, sending me crashing to the ground and wondering if I’d ever use my left foot again.

(Also, wondering whether I would ever recover a) my dignity and b) the use—so to speak—of my left bum cheek).

And yet, 10 minutes later, I was up and back at it because my ankle was fine.

It leaves me marveling at this ridiculously healthy body that God gave me and more than a little grateful.

(I know so many people—including many of you—struggle with poor health, and I do not say the above to gloat or to imply that I am blessed, and you are not…I was simply made aware of how much I take my health for granted today and wanted to take a moment to acknowledge my gratitude to the Creator who gave it to me).

(I give you full permission to scrutinize the pics below to see if you can discover which leg is longer).

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Well, hello there.

This is the “picking up my kids from their Grandma’s and then taking them grocery shopping” version of an outfit I wore to a friend’s birthday party the night before. That would also be the matching make up, hair, and expression to accompany the activities I mentioned in quotes.

This pic is also the closest I got to capturing the adorable indigo blue swiss dots that are scattered fetchingly across the white peasant top that I paid a whopping $12 for at Kohl’s because I loved it so much (even if the bottom button did insist on gapping unbecomingly every time I forgot to adjust it).

Oh, and here’s the “party version.”

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So, what changed, you ask? The hair’s still frizzy. The eyes are still tired.

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Um, hello? Did you see THE shoes?

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Speaking of the shoes…wanna see something funny?

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Did you catch that?

Because neither the Marshall’s employee who checked both shoes for matching sizes nor I did.

I could definitely tell that one fit better than the other, but I just chalked it up to Baby #2’s jacking up my feet along with the rest of me and went about my business.

Whoops.

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This next look is courtesy of Old Navy’s clearance racks (or the yellow top is anyway).

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And the (slightly) tamer hair is courtesy of my new flat iron (totally normal that I smell burnt feathers every time I straighten my bangs, right?).

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Of course, it was only after I bought my $7 clearance shirt plus a pair of the cutest watermelon red skinnies for Della (I had her all dolled up to show you and then ran out of time to snap a pic before I had to run out the door to sprain my ankle at my exercise class…I’ll try to update with one soon)…that I opened my GAP bill and discovered this little treasure:

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It was like finding a $20 bill in my back pocket, except of course, this $20 bill can only be spent at certain stores—stores at which I had already spent my real, accepted-anywhere money.

So…what’s a girl to do?

I still had the tags on my stuff and could have taken it back and rebought it with my certificate.

But really.

Where’s the fun in that?

(I see another trip to Old Navy in my near future).

And finally, we’ve got the I’m-so-conflicted-about-this-look-that-I-don’t-really-even-want-to-post-it outfit (because it’s always a good idea to end with the outfit you like least, right?).

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I didn’t actually wear this get-up anywhere because a) the skirt’s too short for comfort or modesty (always nice to find that out in pictures), b) the top’s too schlumpy, and c) the flouncy ruffles + gingham are kind of screaming, “Oops, I Did It Again.” (and Britney—bless her heart—is not exactly my fashion role model).

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But what I really wanted to show you were the boots.

I tried them on in Dillard’s on the same shopping trip that scored the yellow top and the red baby skinnies, and as I was standing there trying to talk myself into a pair of $28 black suede boots (65% off) I didn’t need, a lady walked by and hissed, “Oh honey, buy them. Just buy them. Don’t even think about it. Just do it.”

So…I did.

And then I sold a bunch of clothes here in the blog to balance out my impulse buy. : )

Speaking of which, if you’re still waiting on me to contact you about whether you won or to bill you because you know you did, please be patient a little longer.

I had it all laid out in a doc on my computer, and then our power went out, I lost the doc (always. save. your. work. Abbie!), and I need to comb back through my emails to make sure I have everything straight!

So…was that post all-over-the-place enough for you?

Because random comes easily to me, and I could keep going.

But I won’t.

Until tomorrow (seriously…you’ll see what I mean).

Bye for now!

 

 

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