Category Archives: Just for fun

The Hair Up There

I have no excuse for my extraordinarily, ahem, punny title other than…Monday?

Sure. We’ll go with that.

Anyhoo, I think I’ve talked about this before (but six children is slowly but surely turning my brain into sludge so…) here’s the deal:

I love DIY. I will happily DIY practically anything that I think I can pull off instead of paying lots of money for an already done deal.

Anything except haircuts.

I know there’s this magical thing called Youtube, which could certainly give me more than enough information to fake it through a few little boy haircuts and a bob or two.

But…I just haven’t been able to make myself pull the trigger on that one.

Partly because I feel like I am missing the hair-cutting gene. I have the hair-styling gene for sure. I’ve always been able to braid/elaborately style my own hair without having to look in a mirror, and I’ve even been recruited to do styles for special occasions for others a time or two.

But put a pair of scissors in my hand, and I’m all thumbs and elbows and overflowing potential for one of the worst chili-bowl cuts since 1994.

If I were forced at gun-point to open a hair salon (because that’s what it would take), I would probably name it, “Weedwhackers R Us,” just so everybody would know what they were getting going in.

Which brings me to my wonderful friend, Hollie (who would be a good egg in my book just for being a fellow “ie” name-speller but who also happens to be the best hair-stylist I’ve ever been to, so that’s a nice bonus).

I’ve been going to Hollie for…I’ve lost track. But something like 5 years? I think? (I really have lost track). And besides that one time that she accidentally grabbed the cutting shears instead of the thinning shears and lopped an impressive chunk off the back of my hair (yes, we laugh about it now; no, we weren’t laughing at the time), she’s never steered me wrong. (And let’s face it: I have enough hair for three people, so that one chunk was practically enough for Locks of Love, and I didn’t even miss it that much…once I learned to hide it when I styled my hair. :/).

Add to that the fact that she lets all of my kids cram into her studio to do cuts assembly style, and I couldn’t imagine a better friend/stylist.

That assembly-style situation is exactly what we had going on a few weeks ago when every single last one of my kids (minus Della, since she’d already had her birthday cut) got a trim (or more) on the same morning.

I would love to say that I was the least bit emotional about the twins’ first haircut because that would make me sound like a better mama (I guess), but I wasn’t. I was ready. Della didn’t get a haircut until her 5th birthday, but her hair has natural curl and never looked scraggly or weedy.

I could not say the same for the twins.

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{Getting ready for her big chop}

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{Duck lips and downcast eyes; oh no! Already her bob has aged her to teenagedom!}

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{Oh, phew! Back to being little girls!}

And the boys only get about 2 haircuts a year and were looking more than a little Hobbitish.

Even little mister’s Theodorable curls were starting to frizz and hang down in his eyes.

haircuts4

Clearly, he was a huge fan of the process.

I would also love to say that I lined all the kids up and took a group photo of all the freshly shorn sheepies. But…I didn’t. #momfail #bloggerfail #seenoteaboveaboutsludgeforbrain

I give, as my excuse, the fact that all 7 of us headed to the grocery store to buy Shaun’s birthday dinner ingredients immediately following an hour and 1/2 of haircuts, and keeping 6 children a) alive b) happy and c) out from underfoot of fellow shoppers WHILE remembering all the things on your list kind of drives the thought of group pics straight out of your head.

This was not taken on Haircut Day, nor does it showcase any of their haircuts in any sort of clear way.

But it IS a group pic (and rather compelling evidence that my husband is a hoss). So, there’s that.

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Do you guys cut your own kids’ hair? (Go ahead, make me feel like a fraud as a mother; I can take it).

Any great (beginner) Youtube videos to share? I’m all eyes!

 

 

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Crushing the Clutter: The 3 Week, 50 Bag Challenge

I am not a hoarder. I’ll just say that up front because, one time, I made a joke about my “hoarding tendencies” on social media and got scolded for flippantly using a term that should be reserved for an actual disorder.

There are no piles up to the ceiling anywhere in my house. I do not have 12 potato peelers. Or four foot high stacks of newspapers.

HOWEVER, there is a tiny little hoarder voice in my brain that says, “But you might possibly, maybe need that some day” most times that I go to get rid of something.

And you know what? 9 times out of 10, when I have a very strong thought like this, I regret chunking that particular item all of a week later when I end up needing it and have to go buy a new one.

BUT.

There are still lots of areas in our house that could use a thorough, ruthless edit. I have 3 different storage areas full of decor that I haven’t used in at least a year. That’s not cool. My bathtub in our master is currently housing trash bags full of clothing that I need to sort through (good thing I like showers, huh?).

It’s time.

But it’s the kind of project that I will always push to the back burner because there’s always something more pressing (and fun) that could be done first.

So, I’m turning up the heat (I hope you are fully appreciating my stove-themed metaphors) on this particular project by issuing myself the following challenge:

crushtheclutter

{Don’t you love the random happy/creepy stuffed toy leering at you from the bag on the right? Go haunt someone else’s nightmares delight another child, please}

I saw on The Money Saving Mom’s IG that she was doing a 500 item challenge. And I seem to remember a 40 bag challenge from forever ago. So, call it arbitrary and overly ambitious (it’s both), but I’m going with 50…in three weeks.

The bags can be any size you like, but I’m shooting for trash bags full.

And yes, I’m skeered. I feel like I’m probably going to do nothing but find things to throw away for the next three weeks.

But I like a challenge, and I feel like this one needs to happen to force me to get. this. done–not only for the sake of my home but for the sake of my sanity as well. (Because I know my brain is going to feel a little less cluttered with every bag I donate).

Also, have you heard of this book?

artoftidying

I can’t seem to escape it. It pops up in my IG feed every other day, gets recommended by every blogger I read, and practically reaches out and snags my elbow as I walk through Barnes and Noble.

The premise seems to be that, rather than adhering to a strict organizational code, you simply assess your belongings and your need (or lack thereof) for them based primarily on the criterion of whether they bring you joy.

Or something like that. I’ll know better when it gets to my house because I just ordered it. Most books like this stress me out, but multiple people have mentioned that this one provides clarity without condemnation, so I’m hoping they didn’t just say that because they got the book for free or something.

ANYway, here’s to a more organized, less cluttered 2016!

Are you with me?!

The challenge officially starts Monday, Feb. 8th and ends Monday, Feb. 29th (the last day of the month…I would love to say that I planned that, but…I didn’t. I’m not mad about it, though).

Be sure to leave a comment below if you want to jump in on the challenge. (Remember, they don’t have to be trash bags. 50 Walmart bags is like 200 medium-sized things. I bet some of you feel like you got that many excess toys for your kids last Christmas alone).

I will, of course, be blogging about my progress and ultimate results. So, stay tuned for pictures of all the junk I’m getting rid of! (Can’t imagine how pumped you are about that).

P.S. In conjunction with this challenge, I’m also doing a closet clean-out and selling a lot of really cute stuff that I love…but just don’t wear enough over at my closet shop account @mifmcloset. Feel free to head on over and see if something catches your fancy. The prices on all of the items include shipping, and all you need to do is type sold and your Paypal email to claim them. If you don’t see something you need right away, be sure to check back because I’ll be adding more items (hopefully) daily.

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Lady Mondegreen

So, I posted this picture of Della and her…um…interesting rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” to Instagram yesterday.

mondegreen

“Mary had a little lamb, its fleas were white as snow.” Della, age 4

And I had a comment that basically just said the word, “Mondegreen.” And I was all, huh? Probably about how you’re feeling as you check out Della’s fuzzy earmuffs in the midst of the August heat (what can I say? Girl loves her some earmuffs).

So, naturally, I looked it up. And here’s what I discovered.

In 1954, an American writer named Sylvia Wright coined the term “mondegreen” in her essay entitled “Lady Mondegreen,” which was, apparently, a common mishearing/pronunciation of the phrase: “laid him on the green” in the Scottish ballad “The Bonnie Earl O’Moray.”

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{Clearly, Della is shocked at her own linguistic faux pas}

Eventually, the word “mondegreen”–meaning the (mis)use of similar sounding words to substitute for the actual phrases in a song/lyric, thus changing the meaning of the song–was added to the dictionary. (Although my computer does not seem to have gotten that memo, since it insists on adding a squiggly red line to it each time I type it).

You may have found yourself drifting off a bit by now, but for me and my word-loving, grammar-geeky heart, this was a fascinating discovery.

If for no other reason than that I now know what I was doing when, as a child, I sang the words: “In Him we live and move and have our beans.” (Our being)

Or when my best friend, Ronda, sang: “God’s not dead. He is Elijah!” (He’s alive).

We were mondegreening. (Okay, so I don’t think it’s supposed to be used as a verb, but whatever. It’s a made up word ABOUT made up words. Who’s going to call me on it?)

I’m sure there are AAAAALLL kinds of other examples I could come up with if I tried really hard, but it’s late as I’m typing this, and I don’t have the brain-power to brush my teeth, much less wrack my brain for mondegreens from times gone by.

Which is where you come in. Did you Lady Mondegreen it up as a kid? Or maybe your own children have invented a few creative phrases of their own?

Be a dear, and share, won’t you?

P.S. Runners up from our FB page include: “Lead on, oh kinky turtle” (Oh King, Eternal) and “Gather around the thorny turtle” (throne eternal). Clearly, kids have pond creatures more than eternity on their minds.

P.P.S. Oh! I thought of a couple more “adult” ones. Ever heard the Taylor Swift song: “Blank Space?” Raise your hand if you thought the phrase: “Starbucks lovers,” is in it. (It’s not). Or how about an old throwback to Elton John and his “electric boobs” (electric boots) from Benny and the Jets??! Oooooh, I can already tell this is going to be fun(ny)!

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What goes around…

I don’t believe in karma, and yet, as a mother, it’s impossible to deny that similar behaviors ripple throughout multiple members of our family, popping up when you least expect them and feeling, at times, a whole lot like poetic justice.

simondellaevy

Case in point:

Della (the queen/empress/duchess and high priestess of saying, “Mama” multiple times and then following it up with either silence and/or repeating, “Uh, um, mmm, uh, um,” until you feel your soul shriveling up and dying a bit): “Mama?”

Me: “Hm?”

Della: “What’s that swirly water thing for?” (pointing at the whirlpool tub in our gym’s women’s locker room).

Me (distracted by the equally soul-shriveling process of trying to prevent a toddler from putting both legs in the same hole of her swimsuit…for the 12th time): “Uh.”

Della: “Mama?”

Me (while tugging spandex up over chubby toddler knees): “Hm?”

Della: “What’s the swirly water thing for?”

Me: “Um…” (still tugging and attempting to keep half-dressed toddler and myself from toppling over onto the potty in the miniscule stall that is the stage for our antics, while avoiding crushing toddler’s twin sister).

Della: “Mama!” Starting to sound annoyed. “I need to know. WHAT is the the swirly water thing for??”

Me (sanity hanging by a thread as I attempt to peel sticky toddler hands off one leg while balancing on the other leg and doing my best to drag a pudgy, sticky toddler hand through the correct bathing suit strap configuration while avoiding a dip in the toilet): “Um, well, ah. It’s… Um…”

Della (with a sigh of resignation): “Mama, you have too many ‘Um’s.’”

Hashtag: welcome to my world, Daughter.

dellabraid

And then there was that time when…

Simon–in a soothing tone to Della after she fell and rather spectacularly scraped and bloodied her knee: “Della. I did this one time, and Mama told me I had to take deep, calming breaths, and it would be better. And you know what? I did, and it was.”

(Funny, I don’t remember its happening quite like that)

Della, in high-pitched, machine gun yelps: “I can’t, I CAN’T, I CA-AAAAAAN’T. There’s bloooooooooood!!!!”

Simon, in a maddening, patronizing tone: “Just don’t think about it. It will get better. Take deeeeeeeep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. There you go. Just like Mama when she has to get a baby out.”

Me:

simondimples

Ever feel like what goes around comes right back around in your house too?

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In which you help me choose glasses…(again)

This post could also quite easily be titled, “In Which Abbie Practices Her Pursed-Lips-Smile.” But my propensity for smizing is not exactly the main point of this post, so we’ll just stick with the original title, m’kay?

So, 3 years ago, you guys weighed in on which glasses I should buy, using uber-nifty virtual try-on images as your guide.

Well.

I did end up buying glasses–one pair, in particular, that I loved and wore all the time. Until a certain precious 18-month-old who shall remain unnamed (but whose name is identical to the abbreviation for a famous city in Louisiana) snapped the ear-piece of said beloved glasses.

Hashtag bummer. I do have another pair, but they pinch my nose (and can’t be adjusted) to the point of headaches. So, suffice it to say that I’ve been wearing my contacts pretty much non-stop for about a year now (because I am a rather blind little bat), and my 32-year-old eyes are tired.

Fast-forward to a week ago when I discovered that world of online glasses shopping has advanced at leaps and bounds to the point that some companies will now send you multiple pairs of frames to try on in person before you decide to buy (with free shipping both directions).

GENIUS!

So, I ordered up a grand total of 11 pairs from two different companies, and today I’m showing you the top 4 contenders (all from Warby Parker…not a sponsored post; just thought I’d share).

But, of course, I couldn’t just make a decision. OH no. I had to consult you, my lovely blog-friends.

So, I’m guessing you’ve already figured out how this is going to go.

I’m going to show you the 4 options, and then, you’re going to comment away telling me which one I should choose (and why, if you’re feeling particularly verbose).

Thanks in advance for your help!

Here we go!

glasses6

glasses1

glasses2

glasses4

{Clearly, I have a thing for tortoise-shell-hued plastic frames, so don’t feel bad if you end up feeling a bit like, “Well, Abbie, 3 of those are the same.” What can I say? At least I’m consistent?}

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Game of Love Basket {Valentine’s Day Gift Idea}

I promised last week that I’d have a few practical ways to get the kindness ball rolling in our marriages, so that’s what I had intended to do today.

And since I am far from the fountain of all marital wisdom, I had planned to share a few ideas from the book The Love Dare–which I had picked up at our local Christian bookstore when I was there about a month back, scouting out some homeschooling materials.

Problem was, it had disappeared. I finally found it in my husband’s office, but when I tried to take it downstairs, he snatched it back. I gave him “the look” and said, “Hey, Mister, I bought that for me.”

He started to hand it back to me, then hesitated and said with a sheepish expression: “But I’m in the middle of it.”

Well, as you can imagine, I dropped it like a hot poker. Sharing marriage tips with you guys is great and all, but ain’t no way I’m going to get in the way of my husband’s reading a book on the subject. I love y’all. But…ain’t no way.

ANYhoo, in lieu of tips from the experts, I thought I’d share what I’m getting Shaun for Valentine’s Day, just in case–like me–you sometimes struggle to come up with a meaningful and specific gift that you know your hubby will love.

This is basically a twist on the “Favorite Things” basket that I made him for Father’s Day a couple of years back.

This time, though, the theme is: Game Night.

Why? Because for the last several years, it just hasn’t been convenient or–let’s face it–worth the effort to go out for Valentine’s Day.

Sure, it’s fun to get all gussied up for a night on the town, but when you’ve got a newborn to feed, and every dress you try on is far from nursing-friendly, it feels a bit tedious. Even without a newborn, sometimes it’s just too much trouble to make reservations, find a babysitter, fight the traffic, pay the inflated prices for the “Valentine’s Specials,” and on and on.

So, we’ve had a lot of fun the last several years staying home and cooking a fancy meal together, love songs on repeat in the background. (This Ed Sheeran gem is, by far, our favorite right now).

This year, I thought it would be even more fun to jazz things up with a game night basket for Shaun. He loves board games, card games, word games–really any sort of competition. And so do I.

game of love

I was inspired by a trip to Marshall’s, where I scored that basket, the “Bulls and Cows” game, the wooden target game, and this (which wouldn’t come close to fitting in the basket)…

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…for $35.

They had all of their “guy-themed” Christmas items on major clearance. Otherwise, even at Marshall’s prices, the Bingo set alone would have cost $50.

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Of course, considering that it’s made of real wood and is really good-sized (hard to tell, but the metal ball tumbler is over a foot tall), I thought $20 was a steal!

All three of the games I bought were two-player-friendly, and I made sure to include lots of his favorite snacks from our local Whole Foods-esque grocery store.

valentines

Pictured here: Virgil’s Black Cherry Cream Soda, Murray’s Ginger Snaps, Deep River Olive Oil and Rosemary Kettle Chips, Kettle Popcorn, and–to top it all off–Marish English Toffee Caramels (pretty much THE BEST chocolate/toffee/carame I’ve ever tasted).

Of course, these are all tailored to Shaun’s specific tastes, but I can picture all kinds of creative options like a poker-themed basket with lots of–ahem–chips. Or, if you want to get super-creative, a carnival-themed basket complete with water pistols, bean bags, targets, and cotton candy.

Even if your husband isn’t all that into games, I bet he can be persuaded for at least one night by adding the all important word “strip” to the description of any game (okay, maybe not Monopoly, unless he’s got the patience of a saint).

After all, it IS Valentine’s Day.

Just sayin’. ;)

What about you guys? Any big plans for V-day?

Do you struggle to come up with great Valentine’s gifts? Or do you guys skip the gift exchange?

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My Favorite Girls to Follow on Instagram

I’m no social media maven. I’ve pretty much given up the Twitter-ghost, except to tweet my posts or to double-post my IG shots. I’m equally bad at Pinterest, which is practically a shameful thing for a blogger to admit.

But Instagram? Instagram I can get behind (you can find me at @misformama). I can’t even explain why exactly except that it just feels more…real…than most other social media outlets.

I use it to document the little moments of our life (I’m never going to be a scrap-booker, that’s for sure) and to interact with you, my sweet reader-friends.

Oh, and also to stalk the inspiring, pretty, funny, fantastic goings-on of lots of talented, creative, encouraging women out there in blogland.

If you’re an IG-lover too, then you’ll want to take a gander at these fun ladies’ accounts. I could have added plenty more, but these are the handful that I make sure to check in on on a regular basis. And since sharing is caring and all, well, I’m sharing…

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Gracelaced/Honeyholden/Jaminato/Itsjustlaine

Some of these ladies are my go-to source for escapist eye-candy when my kitchen is a mess and the laundry piles are up to my eyeballs, but most are that + a huge source of encouragement to me.

It’s so great to feel camaraderie with fellow homeschooling mamas like Laine and Mary (who amaze me with their craftiness on a budget and orderly homes), to laugh along with Sara and Jami (who are the queens of quips and spot-on emojis), and to feel uplifted by Woodsermom’s beautiful photos and wise/practical words (as she raises goats, plant-babies, AND 9 kiddos!!!), and on and on.

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Lindsay_Hellohue/ThePleatedPoppy/JonesDesignCompany/Mary.Krause

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SaraParsons/Tweetopotatopie/Whippycake/Woodsermom

What about you guys? Are you fellow Instagram-lovers?

Any must-follow suggestions for me? I’m a sucker for pretty pictures, real posts, inspiring words, Godly advice, and funny hashtags.

 

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Meet Audrey, the Aqua Kitchenaid Mixer

First of all, can I just say a big, “Awwww, thanks!” for all of your sweet comments on my “new” light and bright kitchen?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll just keep right on saying it: Y’all are NICE!

I am completely honest when I say that I love how it turned out, and it makes me really happy, not only to have such a cheerful space to do life in (I really do spend about 75% of my at-home time in the kitchen between cooking/cleaning/projecting/homeschooling/making snacks/eating meals, etc.), but just to have every last detail of the vision that I had in my head out of my noggin and on my walls/shelves.

(Or, at least that was true until the “O” from my ENJOY sign came crashing down to the floor during family Bible reading yesterday morning and shattered into a gazillion tiny fragments; you know you’re a mama-blogger when your knee-jerk thoughts are a) Praise Jesus there wasn’t a baby underneath it and b) Praise Jesus I had already taken pictures of that because it probably won’t get replaced for a good long while and c) somebody needs to go sweep that up!

But even as genuine as that happiness is, I have to admit that, as  I was editing my pictures, another person’s beautiful kitchen popped up in my IG feed, and my knee-jerk reaction to that was to think something mopey like, “Mine’s not nearly as polished and awesome as hers.”

I know we’ve all heard this quote a ton, but…Comparison really IS the thief of joy.

I get a lot of joy from pouring my heart and soul into the heart and soul of my home. And still, a moment of viewing someone else’s version of kitchen happiness is able to (at least momentarily) tarnish that??? Ridiculous.

I would love to just blame it on preggo hormones, but I think it’s more of a human nature thing–a finding-your-worth-in-your-works instead of the-One-who-works-all-things-together-for-good kind of thing.

ANYhoo, I say all of that to assure you that your feedback–and above all the repeated, “It looks like you!” sentiment–was such a helpful reaffirmation of what I already know to be true: God created us all with unique talents and tastes, and while we can certainly appreciate someone else’s talents and tastes, the second we cross the line into coveting them, we’re not going to be content with our own anymore. And that’s just wrong.

So, yeah. Thanks for helping to restore some much-needed perspective.

And now on to the actual purpose of this post.

And that would be introducing you to this pretty, who had already caught several of your eyes from Monday’s post.

audrey mixer

Meet Audrey (yes, as in Breakfast at Tiffany’s…Tiffany blue…and all that).

She’s my new kitchen BFF.

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{See her hiding back there all being all demure?}

Of course, since I love her so much, I am definitely hoping that she never has a run-in with my former kitchen BFF, Penelope, her scarlet predecessor, who got unceremoniously carted off by a total stranger following a parking lot rendezvous in which cold, hard cash changed hands. (I promise this is not how I treat my real-life pals).

That might get ugly.

But, here’s the thing: as much as I loved ol’ Penny, her sheer redness just didn’t jive any longer with the lighter/brighter vibe I was going for.

So, my options were to a) paint her myself (which would not have gone well), b) have her repainted by an autobody shop (apparently, they’ve been known to do such things and, while not cheap, it’s usually less than buying new), or c) sell her and buy a new one in my preferred color choice.

Since I got her for such a great deal brand new 5 years ago, I was pretty sure I could get at least all of my money back, which made the swap a bit of no-brainer.

Turns out, I was right. I actually made money selling her used (and without asking an exorbitant price, either) and then put that fundage toward the purchase of pretty lil’ Audrey, who just so happened to be on major sale (I did a lot of research and couldn’t find a better deal than this site offered), with a coupon code AND a $50 factory rebate.

Suh-weet!

As it turns out (and don’t tell Penelope), Audrey is more than just another pretty face. She’s actually quieter and runs more smoothly than Penny (who definitely got the job done and had no actual “problems” but was just a little bit on the noisier/rougher side, in general…which I would have never known before I got Audrey).  I don’t know if I just lucked out or if Kitchenaid actually upgraded their design.

But I do know this: Audrey and I are very happy together.

Do you have a Kitchenaid mixer? If so, how long have you had it, what color is it, and–most importantly of all–what is its name? I guess you already know all of my answers.  I don’t see myself getting another one any time soon (probably never), but I definitely wouldn’t complain if I won one of those fancy, painted flowery ones that the Pioneer Woman gives away!

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Must Watch: HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”

I’ve talked about shows/movies that I like here on the blog before, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone so far as to devote an entire post to promoting a specific show.

Well, that’s about to change because Shaun and I discovered HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” on our Lake Livingston vacation and proceeded to inhale the rest of the series in a few short weeks after we got home.

Now, we don’t have HGTV. We don’t really have much of anything (just a couple of fuzzy network channels), and what we have, we don’t watch. However, we are big fans of Amazon’s Unbox for the few shows we find ourselves drawn to, and the entire first season of Fixer Upper (there’s only one, but they’re already filming a second) was only $10 to buy and then stream.

So…what is it?

Well, it’s essentially a home makeover show, which sounds pretty blah and unoriginal, but the premise is made fresh and engaging by the charm and talent of the family it centers around.

chip_and_joanna_gaines

Meet Chip and Joanna (he affectionately calls her Jo-Jo) Gaines, the Waco-based owners of Magnolia Homes. They’ve been married about 11 years and have 4 kids, 9 and under. And in their family interactions lies the show’s biggest draw.

merry christmas

It doesn’t hurt that they’re all ridiculously cute. But the real surprise is how much they all seem to genuinely like each other. Sure, it’s an HGTV show, so there are aspects of it that are obviously scripted, but watching one of their children hurry to help another tamp down the dirt around a newly inserted plant in their farmhouse garden or seeing one brother unselfconsciously drape an arm around the other’s shoulders in the background of a shot that has nothing to do with them…It’s hard to fake that. Their kids are polite, well-mannered, and exude a sweetness and innocence that is rare and beautiful to behold, and while I have no doubt that they do their fair share of squabbling, it’s clear that the family is invested in each others’ well-beings. As Joanna points out in one episode, they make it a point to gather around a table for dinner every night, no matter how hectic their schedules get (and, with a new hit show, a realty business, a brick and mortar + online decor store, and a blog, it’s hard to imagine a family with more going on). Now, that may mean gulping down pizza around a coffee table while Joanna hustles to style the last minute details of a house before the big reveal the next day, but it’s a priority nonetheless.

joanna + kids

A lot of all the family togetherness and sweetness can be traced to the Gaines’s Christian faith (you can see a glimpse of Joanna here in their adorable country farmhouse, decorated with all things meaningful to their family, including chalkboard scripture verses). They make no effort to hide their love for the Lord, but it’s woven naturally throughout the show rather than showcased or clunkily hammed-up.

In addition to the family dynamic, it’s just fun to watch Chip and Joanna be Chip and Joanna. He’s a lovable, self-deprecating goofball, while she’s admittedly more high-strung but still manages to maintain an admirable level of dry wit in the face of his antics. Their comfortable, flirtatious camaraderie works really well in a show that’s technically about beams and French doors but really wouldn’t be anything so very special without their chemistry.

Of course, I haven’t even gotten to the main business of Fixer Upper, which is the fixer uppers themselves.

The basic premise of the show is that Chip and Joanna show a couple three prospective homes at varying levels of disrepair in desirable neighborhoods in the couples’ price range, and then they choose which one they want to buy and to what extent they want to renovate it.

Not too surprisingly, given the show’s tagline of “we take the worst houses in the best neighborhoods and transform them…” it’s almost always the saddest, most neglected option (with the biggest budget margin for renovations) that the couples choose. Again, there are aspects of the show that are highly formulaic (like the inevitable call for more money when they run into an “unexpected” foundation problem or whatnot), and I honestly think the show would be much smarter to do away with those, and just let it flow.

Even so, the proceedings, if predictable (especially when you’re watching it at a rate of 1-2 episodes a night, several nights in a row) are still highly enjoyable, and the big reveal at the end (after all the fun banter and progress footage in between) is always gasp-worthy.

I don’t want to ruin anything for you, but I did want to share a few of the before and afters as well as a peek at my favorite rooms from this season’s episodes.

First up, check out this amazing transformation:

harp collageThe Gaines’s custom furniture-maker, Clint Harp, and his family were featured on an episode and ended up buying the house on the left for only $10,000 and then getting the house on the right (yes, the same one, but it sure doesn’t look like it) for approximately $115,000 when all the renovations were done.

Which is another thing I love about the show. Since, it’s based in Waco, where realty is crazy-cheap, the all-in prices are really reasonable and make some of these feats seem actually possible to pull off.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to have someone like Joanna Gains to decorate for you.

harp house living room

Other than the staggering exterior before + afters, the best part about the houses is by far Joanna’s styling prowess.

There are recurring themes: white kitchen cabinets + furniture-style islands, chippy farmhouse tables, huge Roman numeral clocks, French doors, exposed beams, an open floor plan flow, and lots of unusual wall decor (she hangs everything from wooden chairs to metal washboards to antique bikes).

And if your style is ultra-modern or minimalist, you probably won’t appreciate her work as much as I do. But for a lover of vintage with a funky and traditional twist, her designs are a feast for the eyes.

Another extreme change was this French Country makeover…

french collage

I was honestly skeptical of their ability to take a traditional red-brick ranch-style home and transform it into the French country style that the owners were looking for, but they totally did it.

And, in perhaps my favorite exterior transformation of all, the Gaines took what the buyers fearfully referred to as “the haunted house” and turned it into something classic and beautiful and still totally fresh.

gorman collage

Want a few more interior shots? Okey dokey.

coffee bar

Love everything in here from the colorful rug to that World Market table + stool combo (I’ve seen it in person, and it’s super cute) to that amazing coffee bar (and I don’t even drink coffee!)

colorful house

The bench. The miniature farm table. The hanging washboards used as magnet boards for pictures. The toolbox-turned-Crayon-holder. It’s all great!

craft room Gorman- yum

As I mentioned before (and as you’re probably seeing), there are lots of repeated elements in Joanna’s decorating style, but one of my favorites is her use of old neon letters that have been stripped of their lights and then hung on the wall. The “yum” above is just one example of many.outdoor space

Believe it or not, this is actually an indoor space, which at one point was a creepy atrium (the buyers joked about all the snakes that were probably hiding in it) that Joanna transformed into super-chic herb garden. play room

There aren’t very many kid spaces, but this one with the windmill + locker storage + b/w map is really fun.

runner living room

And I’m totally in love with that chandelier, which can be bought from Joanna’s online store.

I know it probably sounds like HGTV called me up to plug this show, but I promise they didn’t. I just so rarely run across something that showcases such impressive talent combined with such consistent likeability, all while being positive and drama-free. So, yeah. I just had to share. If you’re looking for something fun, uplifting, and–let’s face it–pretty darn inspiring to watch, I highly recommend Fixer Upper. In case you can’t already tell. :)

Do you watch Fixer Upper? I don’t use the word “girl crush” often, but I think I might have one on Joanna. That girl has mad skillz!

Any good, clean shows to recommend? I’m always open for suggestions!

{All images are from magnoliahomes.net}

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Guess the Number (Kid Photo Shoot)

Saturday night, the twins and I went to “town” to pick up a few last minute things for today. (AKA: the first day of full-time homeschooling for us in 2 whole years…gulp).

I was hoping to find some storage baskets to hang on the wall, so I ducked into Marshall’s. I didn’t find my baskets (boo!), but I still love a good excuse to troll their aisles stuffed with randomness.

And, let’s be honest: it doesn’t get much more random than this:

take11

That would be a giant six made out of greenery and wire, complete with a burlap ribbon hanger and built-in twinkle lights.

I picked it up out of pure curiosity at first. But then. Oh THEN, an idea for a photo shoot with my kids rapidly formed in my mind. So, I hung that $12 piece of awesomeness on a stroller handle and tried not to poke anybody (the greenery is quite prickly!) on my way to the front.

take6

And then, Sunday morning, I dressed my kids up all cute-like, even though we weren’t going to church because Ezra had been running a fever and was still feeling sub-par (not that you would know it from the pictures…he’s a trooper!). And then, my husband and I had an extended “discussion” about whether I had, indeed, brought home a 6…or was it a 9? Which I finally won when we figured out that the supposed “hooks” on which he had hung (see how I did that?) his entire argument for the number 9 were actually intended for holding the battery pack for the twinkle lights.

take2

The entire debate ended with all of my children prancing around the room, parade-style chanting, “Ma-Ma’s Riiiiiight!” Awesome.

take4

take12

I managed to snag quite a few similar shots, but pretty much the second I tried to get the twins to themselves, Evy decided she was done. I sent Shaun to the house to grab some bribes (aka: homemade chocolate chip cookies), but all that got me was this:

take8

Total absorption in cookie crumbs and zero attention left for mama.

Still, I can’t complain too much when I managed to capture jewels like this one.

take9

And this one:

take10

Oh, and we can’t forget this!  take7

And even though it was actually a 6 (so sorry, babe), one of the things that sold me on it in the first place was that when/if God blesses us with another kiddo, we can flip that bad boy over and use it for a prop with all of us in the picture (I suppose I could keep it around for if we ever hit #9 in the kid department, but that’s an overwhelming thought at the moment. One kid at a time, Abbie. One kid…oh wait, I have twins).

P.S. Anybody else out there doing this homeschooling Mama thing with me? I’d love to hear from you, pray for you, and–well, why not!–have you pray for me too!

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