Category Archives: Life

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.

master tile3

(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!

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

6 Months of Honor

My goodness, have I got a lot to share with you guys! We just got back from a fun family trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, which I will post about later this week (Lord willing), but today, I wanted to take a second to talk about this little nugget of sunshine, who is…

 6 months old. six months1
(As of yesterday).

Because a baby who is easy to take to the beach is an easy baby, indeed.

Honor Daniel is pretty much the definition of a dream baby. Which…is crazy because I didn’t think any baby could be more chill than Theo (not sure Honor is, but he’s giving him a run for his money). Of course, while Honor coos and dimples and does his best to win over the planet (pretty successful effort…everywhere I take him, people fall in love with him), Theo alternates between being thee funniest little kid and…a 2-year-old (need I say more?).

six months3

It’s okay–better than okay!–if you have abs like biscuit dough when you’re this age. Oh, his rolls are scrumptious!

Theo can still be delightful (often is), but in terms of  charm points, Honor’s definitely ahead at the moment (but then, he kind of has the unfair “baby” card to play). Especially now that he’s back to sleeping through the night (it helped immensely when we moved upstairs, and his pack n’ play was no longer 18″ from me). six months

No one around here ever complains about holding Honor. Wonder why.

Even with teething (his bottom two juuuuuust popped through), he spends about 98% of his waking hours alternating between smiling, grabbing his toes, happily drooling on everything in sight, giving big, sloppy, open-mouthed kisses, and checking off every other “cute” box in the book. He wakes up in a good mood and goes to bed easily. It’s honestly kind of ridiculous. And I can’t imagine an easier baby to travel with (it’s a 9 hour drive to Gulf Shores).

HOWEVER.

As far as milestones, he’s a total slug. He rolled over at 3 months (pretty par) but hasn’t done practically anything since. He doesn’t crawl (or make any attempts to), doesn’t sit up on his own (although he’s quite strong and perfectly capable if he actually tried), and couldn’t care less about rolling all over the carpet (not that I blame him, since our current rug is a dhurrie one, which is about as soft as a ticked off porcupine).

six months2

Crawl?? Ha! That’s for peasants. Why crawl when my adoring subjects will carry me? 

Theo was the exact opposite in this regard. He did everything early. Earlier, in fact, than any of my other kids. Honor, on the other hand, is laidback and easygoing in the extreme and seems in no hurry whatsoever to be his own man, er, baby.

But he sure is the sweetest, cuddliest little slug you ever did see. And I know full well by this point that a mobile baby is a much harder baby to keep up with, so I’m actually grateful for my little 6-month-old sloth–especially since we don’t have flooring down in most of the house yet, and dirty, paint-splotched concrete is less than ideal for soft little baby hands and knees.

six months4

His reaction to Nola’s revealing that, one day, he will be required to transport his adorable chub all on his lonesome from point A to point B–AKA: walk. 

I know that every mother feels a little shock upon realizing that her new babe is “suddenly” no longer an infant, but this past 6 months really have been the most incredible whirlwind with Honor’s birth, prepping the old house to sell, selling it, busting our buns to get the new house ready to move into, moving, and then settling in (at least a little). I can definitely remember life before Honor (so I won’t say it feels like he’s always been here), but it seems a bit like an alternate reality–and one with considerably less sunshine and smiles (cheesy, but this kid really is a sweetheart).

So, happy 6 months, baby boy! It’s been an absolute Honor (whyyyyyy? I just couldn’t help myself. Sorry guys).

 

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

Our Favorite Family Movies

So, after Monday’s post, several people asked me about the movies that we watch, and, while I think I’ve talked about this in past, it’s been long enough that I can’t even think which search terms to use to look for the post, so I thought I’d write another one–hopefully, both as a resource for those interested in quality family movies and as a reminder for myself of goodies to revisit when we can’t think of anything to watch for family movie night (Sunday night at our house).

And so, without further ado, I give you:

Our Favorite Family Movies

The Emperor’s New Groove (I like this one more than my kids do, more’s the pity; it’s just so clever)

Chicken Run (same here…the dialogue makes me giggle, but most of it–in all of its Britishness–sails right over my kids’ heads)

Candleshoe

Herbie Rides Again (and its sequels, which get progressively sillier and more obnoxious but which the kids still love)

Mary Poppins

Homeward Bound

Beauty and the Beast (the cartoon)

Swiss Family Robinson (my boys looooooove this one)

Star Wars (basically all iterations of this series–both the prequels, the classics, and the sequels–are pretty clean, and my kids thrill to the action sequences)

The Princess Bride

The Swan Princess

The Sword in the Stone

Robin Hood (both the cartoon and the live action classic)

The Sound of Music

My Fair Lady

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Shaun thinks this one is ridiculous, but my kids get a kick out of it)

The Lord of the Rings + The Hobbit series (these are pretty intense for little kids, but I have found that mine do pretty well with them from an early age, and I’m good with them because of their rock solid good vs. evil messages)

Inside Out (we’ve actually only seen this one once, but it was really clever, and I think we need to revisit it soon)

The Narnia Movies

Epic

The Wizard of Oz

Singin’ in the Rain

Bolt (Mittens is my spirit animal)

Babe

The Incredibles

How to Train Your Dragon (1 and 2)

The Jungle Book (the new one, the cartoon, and the 1994 version)

Charlotte’s Web

A Bug’s Life

The Parent Trap (the classic version)

The March of the Penguins

Wallace and Grommit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Shaun the Sheep

Paddington (another one that makes me laugh even harder than it does my kids)

Movies we haven’t watched as a family yet, but I want to:

The Rookie

Spellbound

Mad Hot Ballroom

Hoosiers

My Dog Skip

Secondhand Lions (Although, if I remember correctly, this one’s better suited for a “clean films” version…more on that below).

I know I’ve talked about “clean films” on social media before, but I can’t remember if I have here on the blog. So, basically, years ago, my mom discovered this site called cleanfilms.com (now defunct), and since then, there have been various versions of it under different names.

So, what are they?

They are sites that sells edited DVDs. They remove all: profanity, nudity, sex, graphic violence, etc. and they do a great job. Most movies are edited pretty seamlessly.

The current one I know about is called Good Media DVDs.

We have quite a few edited movies, ranging from ones that really need it (like Jerry Maguire) to middling ones (like Notting Hill, which is one of my favorite movies…edited), to fairly innocuous stuff (like You’ve Got Mail and While You Were Sleeping…which still have pockets of profanity I could do without).

We even have some movies from them that require no edits whatsoever, just because they were cheap (around $5).

So, now it’s your turn to hit me with your favorite clean, quality family movies! Pretty please? We are always on the hunt for new gems!

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

What Child Training Looks Like at Our House {Part 1}

I have referenced the concept of “child-training” multiple times here on the blog (obviously, I didn’t come up with that, since it’s Biblical). I’ve even answered a lot of specific questions (here are part 1 and part 2) with things that we do in our house to point the kids toward the Lord and help them be consistent every chance we get.

BUT! I’ve never actually sat down and written a post that puts our child-training philosophy and practices in a nutshell (ha…as if…more like a Christmas-sized bag of walnuts…the “nutshell” approach is not my forte).

One reason? For every one of you that has specifically asked me to do this (and there have been a number over the years), there are at least as many who are thinking, “Nah, I’m good. I’ve got our routine down. Not interested.” And that’s FINE. My blog may be called M is for Mama, and I may talk a lot about motherhood, but I am in no way deluded into thinking that I’ve got this all figured out or am doing it perfectly. AT. ALL.

Another reason? The internet can be a bit of a scary place filled with people who come into a blog post (sometimes without ever reading a single other post you write) with all kinds of assumptions and baggage. There’s no guarantee they’re going to read my words as I intend them or to even read them correctly. Example: a while back, I stumbled upon a message board about my blog in which a woman criticized me for my extravagance in choosing a Viking stove because she had seen a picture of one in a design board I’d thrown together and had not read the sentence immediately following the picture, which said it was just there as an example and that I would never actually pay $13,000–or anything like it–for a stove.

It took me a long time to even consider the possibility that I might have anything helpful to share and to feel confident enough in my mothering to recognize that my fear of being seen as “bossy” or a “know-it-all” was just a (potentially) selfish excuse to keep from getting yelled at (virtually or not). Because people get touchy about this momming stuff, yo.

But then I shared this on Instagram last night and had several young mamas ask me again about my “methods,” so I figured I would woman up and just write the post already. I hope it is helpful to at least one of you. ;)

lunch in bed

This morning, I woke up almost sick with exhaustion after a week of house projects and Honor’s waking up multiple times every night. 

I lay down on the couch after I’d fed Honor and put him down for his morning nap, and before I even realized it, I’d dozed off. 

I woke up periodically to the sounds of the kids playing upstairs and Theo’s squawking, but all was mostly calm. 

After about an hour, I got up to check on them and discovered them deep in hush-hush discussion. They begged me to go get in my bed and wait for them. 

So, I got Theo down for a nap, then lay down again and caught up on Instagram.

15 minutes later, the twins came and “took my order” for drinks and lunch, and 15 minutes after that, all of the (awake) kids (not pictured, but awake: Honor) brought me lunch in bed. 
They informed me that, while I napped on the couch, they had convened a “kids’ council” in which they had discussed ways to be a blessing to me–landing on making my bed, preparing me lunch, and giving me a “mama spa” (hand and foot massage). That’s not even the best part, though. 

During their kids’ council, Ezra had read them all a devotional and taught them a new memory verse. Which all of them, including the twins and Theo, practiced together. 

You guys. This is the kind of day that brings me to my knees in tears in worship of the good God who has allowed me to be mama to these precious creatures. 

Only He is great, and His love endures forever! 

……………………………………………………………………….

To say that I was touched by and proud of my kids’ sweet actions doesn’t even begin to describe it.

And I can honestly say that, while this kind of behavior doesn’t surprise me that much now (although, it’s certainly not an everyday occurrence, and it thrills me to no end), 5 years ago, I couldn’t have even fathomed such a thing (because my oldest would have been 6, and, while they can do fun things like bring you wildflower bouquets, lunch + massages + devotionals aren’t really in their wheelhouse yet).

So, the questions that I get the most are: 1) What do you do to instill a servant heart in your kids and 2) How do you get them to be self-motivated to do right?

I’m definitely still learning, but the things that seem to “work” best are:

1. Prayer.

Every day, I thank the Lord for my children in their presence. They hear me tell God how grateful I am for them. And they usually hear me tell him that I need his help being patient and kind and using gentle words (pretty convicting when I stop, mid-prayer, to snap at the toddler for pile-driving me from the arm of the couch).

Throughout the day, I thank the Lord for good moments, repent of bad ones, and ask for his wisdom and help.

At night, I thank him again for my children when I pray in bed with my husband.

Am I perfect at this? Hardly. I miss many, many opportunities to pray over my children. It is actually a very specific mothering goal of mine to get better at this.

But I can tell a big difference when I’ve been slacking off in this area–if nothing else, in my attitude towards all of the little blessings who can start feeling much more like burdens when I don’t have prayer to clear my vision.

2. Family Bible Reading.

There’s a reason Ezra thought to do a devotional during their “kids’ council.” We do family Bible reading (using www.oneyearbibleonline.com) pretty much every day. And we’ve been working on memory verses more faithfully for several months now.

All of my kids are required to participate. Everyone but Theo has to sit still with no toys and listen. And if he can’t play quietly or mostly stay in one area, then he has to sit on my lap (which is sometimes more punishment for me than anything). I act like this is no big thing. But it, like pretty much every other aspect of child-training, is sometimes grueling, frustrating, and infuriating. Not giving up is the key.

It did my mama’s heart SO much good to know that this habit is one that my kids have latched onto and that they chose to do it for themselves even when I wasn’t leading it.

Their knowledge of the Bible (beyond the obvious stories like David and Goliath and Jonah and the Big Fish) has grown so much over the years, and their insight astounds me sometimes. Even when I don’t think they’re listening, they come up with some pretty deep stuff and show a really good grasp of the Gospel–both in the Old Testament and New.

3. Practice makes consistent.

You know that phrase, “Practice makes perfect?” It’s not true. Perfection isn’t attainable this side of heaven. Not only that, but it matters very much what you are practicing because what you practice, you will consistently repeat. Not perfectly. But on a daily basis.

So, really, practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes consistent.

If you practice complaining and disobedience, you will consistently whine and disobey. But if you practice gratitude and diligence, they will become (something much closer to) second nature.

To me, this is THEE most crucial, practical aspect aspect of child-training. You cannot.give.up. Period. It may take a week, a month, or three years (or more) for kids to get something “right,” but until they do (and even after), it is your job to remind, encourage, admonish, discipline. REPEAT. Even when you’re just too tired to do it again. Even when they don’t seem to get it yet. Even when they fall on the floor and melt down in a puddle of frustration that they still can’t get away with ____________.

4. Routine is key.

This one is another mothering goal of mine. Because, while I’m really good at some parts of this, I’m more lax in others, and guess which aspects of our household suffer more than others? (Yup, the ones for which I don’t have a routine).

Example: all of the kids who are capable have a simple “morning routine.” For the boys, it’s an alternating cycle of sweeping/wiping down the breakfast table and morning dishes. For the girls, it’s picking up the living room. I still have to remind the little girls, but the boys treat their morning routines like breathing at this point (ha! this morning, I came downstairs after feeding the baby to find them chilling on the couch, without have made any effort to do their routines, so I guess it’s not foolproof). It just happens. It’s taken years (literally) to get it to this point of effortlessness. But it’s worth it (and how!).

When your kids know what you expect of them and when, they will do it. Usually with a decent attitude (because, duh, this is my contribution right now, and is nothing to whine about).

5. Teach actions “as unto the Lord.”

This one probably should have come before routines. We talk constantly about “being a blessing” to each other and others. Why? Because we are doing it “with our whole hearts…for the Lord, not for men.” If my kids do a sloppy job, I *try* not to simply harangue them for being lazy (although, I do use that word) but to point out that every single thing we do throughout our daily lives can be a testament to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I think our next Bible verses to memorize will be these:

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you,q we have not stopped praying for you.r We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his wills through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,e t 10 so that you may live a life worthyu of the Lord and please himv in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,w 11 being strengthened with all powerx according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,y 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father,z who has qualified youf to share in the inheritancea of his holy people in the kingdom of light.b 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darknessc and brought us into the kingdomd of the Son he loves,e 14 in whom we have redemption,f the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14

People notice my children everywhere we go, just for the sheer number of them. Often, they also notice them for their obvious joy in being around each other. The olders take care of the youngers (true of Ezra and Simon with the twins…true of the twins with Theo and Honor…and so on). They notice when they help me load the checkout belt and bag the groceries. I will almost always get a comment or two on how well-behaved my children are when we are in public. Which is great and all but a completely lost opportunity if we are only “being good” for head pats or man’s praise. So, every chance I get, I take the opportunity to 1) tell people what a blessing my kids are to me and 2) tell them how good the Lord is to us.

I know it sounds like I am bragging, and I always shy away from talking about the fact that my kids are “well-behaved” or “good.” I know that I’m supposed to tell you that they are wild and out of control and “stinkers” and all that. But it’s not true. Nor do I want it to be. They are not perfect, nor am I. Not by a long shot. But the fact of the matter is that our goal is to act the same way in public as we do at home (and yes, I meant to put it in that order). There is no perfection, only progress, and the more we’re aware of why we’re doing it and for WHOM, the more progress we make.

Part 2 coming soon. 

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

The Moving Mambo

If there is such a thing as a Moving Mambo, I think we might be doing it. It goes a little something like:

Clear out dining room area so the table will actually fit…clutter up the kitchen island.

Wash all laundry while painters are upstairs…rewash half the loads when they come out smelling like paint fumes.

Put away all of the dishes in the cupboards…pull them all back out so the cabinet guys can rehang the cabinet because your mixer won’t fit under the cabinet by 1/16″ due to the awesomely chunky nature of your concrete counter tops.

In other words: 3 steps forward…2 steps back.

BUT! Note that that still puts us 1 step farther forward than we started out. I’ll take it.

That said, here are a few things I’ve learned over the past two 1/2 weeks.

1. I raved about what a pretty color Simply White by Sherwin Williams is. And it is! In oil paint. It’s the color of my white upper cabinets and all of the ship lap in the house, and I love it!

week35

See the white cabinets? No yellow! Also, the range hood is huge for a reason. We’ll have two ovens side-by-side underneath because two 30″ was a loooooooottt cheaper than one 60″ range. (Also, I had Della stand by Honor specifically for this picture; I was standing by him at the island before, and at no point was he left alone on there). 

Imagine my confusion, then, when the exact same color on my walls was yellow. Like, a lot. I don’t have a picture, but it was such a jarring feeling to see the point where the wall met the ship lap and realize that they were the same color. Even Shaun, who is red-green color blind and not the best gauge of colors in general, could see the difference and didn’t like it.

2. Sherwin Williams Pure White IS a true white. No yellow at all. We ended up repainting the living room in it, and it’s such a gorgeous crisp, bright color (or lack thereof). Definitely going with it for the white in the rest of the house. I even chose it for the exterior trim!

week3

Woooohoooo! Lookee there at that pretty white trim AND landscaping…which…my mom is doing for me. While I vacuum all of that red dirt inside over and over and over…

3. Not having kids sleeping in your living room will do WONDERS for your sanity. I was borderline twitching the other night, literally feeling like moving was the biggest mistake ever. And, even though I could logically identify my emotions as a major overreaction and just all-around lie, it wasn’t until the kids, my dad, and I took the time to move all 240 (!!) boxes of flooring out of the schoolroom and all of the kids into it to sleep (thus freeing up my living room floors at night) that my brain felt like it could begin to truly relax. Apparently, I really need that hour before bed without little eyeballs on me to recharge.

week34

Something else that recharges me: spending time with this guy. Yeah, that hottie who is happily serving his kids (their oh-so-nutritious special lunch of choice on Father’s Day) on his special day.

4. Prayer has a major effect on my perspective. Duh, right? But it’s amazing what praying for the 7 men who are in every room of my house by 8:30 in the morning does for my attitude about their presence. I still don’t love it, but it makes me feel less like a cat on a sheetrock and power-tool covered porch (I think that’s how the saying goes?).

week36

Another thing I prayed for for YEARS: this piano that fits perfectly in the piano nook we designed in the house long before the Lord ever answered that prayer with this beauty for $100!!

P.S. While I am typing these words, painters are adjusting ladders in rather ear-splitting fashion, there is the constant whine of a saw in the background, and the ever-present soundtrack of my life is blaring Tejano music. #sanctuary

week32

Upside of having painters in your house? The cools toys…like plastic sheeting…apparently. 

5. You can use exterior paint inside. Technically, it’s frowned upon because “the formula’s not the same,” but according to our paint guy, latex paint is latex paint, for the most part. Which is good news, since it means I can use the “fixed” color of our exterior paint goof on the inside. And that’s just what I plan to do.

6. A sink can be life-changing. Or something close to it. Our giant (51.5″) sink from NBI Drainboard Sinks is practically my favorite thing in the house. It’s equally split between the two sinks, but one is deeper than the other (the left is 8″, the right is 11″). I gravitate toward the shallower one for rinsing things–grapes, cups, babies–but I can pile practically anything in the right side at the same time, so there are no dishes on my counters, even if there’s a full load to do. It’s made from cast acrylic, which is durable and super easy to clean. I’ve only been using it for 3 weeks, so but so far, it’s held up beautifully, and–ask Shaun–I’m prone to go off in raptures about it while washing off Theo’s muddy feet or scrubbing an entirely submerged cookie sheet. Just for full disclosure, I did receive it at a discounted price, but I had already asked Shaun if we could buy it outright before I ever collaborated with NBI Drainboard Sinks, and he said yes. Even at full price, I think it’s a good deal because farmhouse sinks that are 40% smaller are going for the same price. There’s just nothing else like it (that I’ve found) on the market, and it has made this mama of many’s life so much easier already. I’m a huge, huge fan. As are my boys. We went with double dishwashers, and they love that they can rinse/load simultaneously without bonking elbows. I’m not exaggerating one bit when I say that they’ve actually thanked me for getting such a nice sink (they’re my primary dishwashers in the morning, so it makes sense for them to be excited by the upgrade).

week31

 I almost feel bad for posting this picture of Honor with all of his rolls hanging out, but, honestly, when else is it just so stinkin’ cute to be this chubby? Never. That’s when. He doesn’t look too enthused about his bath in the awesomest sink ever, but I promise he loved it.

7. Baby sleep schedules + moves don’t mix well.

Honor has gone from being a solid 10-hour sleeper to trying nonsense like waking up every hour and 1/2. And no, it’s not the 4 month sleep regression…because he’s FIVE months now (how???) and his 4 month sleep hiccups were a mere blip compared to the sleep deprivation he’s been putting me through for the past week. Basically, we need to get our sleeping arrangements a little more spread out (i.e. move everybody upstairs once the paint stink from all of the oil enamel is gone), so he doesn’t sense me (from his pack ‘n play all of 2 feet away), and I think we’ll be back on track. Hoping to get there by this weekend.

I’m sure there’s much more I could share, but I’ve already written this post in shifts over days, so I should probably hit publish before it languishes as a draft for another week.

OH! Before I go, though, I wanted to ask: what kind of posts would you like to see me write about this house-building experience?

I’ve already been asked about where I find my deals (I’ve shared a lot of those, but if you have more specific questions, I’ll be happy to share) and how we came up with/went about designing the layout and exterior of the house. I’ve also had various questions about how we took large family dynamics into account when building. I’m happy to blog about any of the above or anything else y’all are interested to know. I’m just trying to get a gauge for which topics interest the most people.

I’m all ears!

P.S. If you want to see more daily pics of our house progress, be sure to follow along on Instagram. It’s the only place I seem to be able to post daily right now.

 

 

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

My Mama

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

Such is life right now.

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

Word.

But still.

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

This is my mom, Beth.

softa1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

Dig Deep

I do not tend toward depression.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I admitted as much in this post.

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

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

But I had no joy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t know.

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

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

Because hard is not the same thing as bad.

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

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

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

Master Bedroom + Master Bathroom Reveal + a Life Update

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

master bedroom

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

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

master bedroom2

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

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

No, not nothing.

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

master bedroom1

 

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

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

Everything else stays.

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

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

master bathroom1

 

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

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

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

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

master bathroom

 

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

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

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

master bathroom2

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

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

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

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

 

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

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

This and That

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

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

baby elephant

Gimme those thigh rolls!!

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

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

kittens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

books

 

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

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

blaze

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

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

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

cactus

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

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

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

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

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

On the Market

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

house3

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

What did we do?

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

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

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

house1

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

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

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

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

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

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

house2

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

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

Which! Brings me to the point of this post.

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

house4

One of my favorite views (ignore the wheelbarrow)

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

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

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

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):