Category Archives: Life

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!

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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!

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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.

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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?).

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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

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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).

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 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.

 

 

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dig Deep

I do not tend toward depression.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I admitted as much in this post.

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

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

But I had no joy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t know.

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

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

Because hard is not the same thing as bad.

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

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

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Master Bedroom + Master Bathroom Reveal + a Life Update

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

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.”

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(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).

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(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.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

books

 

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

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

blaze

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

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

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

cactus

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

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

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

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

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On the Market

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

house3

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

What did we do?

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

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

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

house1

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

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

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

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

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

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

house2

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

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

Which! Brings me to the point of this post.

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

house4

One of my favorite views (ignore the wheelbarrow)

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

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

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

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2 Months of Honor

It feels like mere days since I did Honor’s 1 month update. Like…last week, right?

But no. A whole month has passed, and this little boy of ours is getting less little by the minute it seems. Especially considering that I put him a 6 month sleeper the other day, and…it FIT. 6 months. He’s 8 weeks, yo. That’s just wrong.

Everything else is juuuuust right, though. Seriously, he deserves some sort of award for being the chillest baby in the land. Joely, a super sweet freshman girl who used to work in the childcare at our gym, texts me every time she’s home from college and begs to see my kids (see: suuuuper sweet), so Shaun and I snuck in a Tuesday night date while the kids yucked it up with Joely at home. Of course, we had our main little man with us, and he was the model citizen. You might even say it was an Honor to have him with us (grooooooooan. I know. so wrong).

8 weeks1

Such a chill dude.

He was awake (and happy!) for pretty much all four hours of the date, just staring around, cooing, smiling, making bubble goatees, and generally being an all-around sweetheart.

15 years ago, when I knew nothing about babies, I think I foolishly thought that those with lots of kids must surely get jaded by the whole process. Ho. Hum. Another baby. Big whoop.

But it IS a big whoop, as I’ve discovered more and more with each new little amazing human that has joined our clan. I might be getting MORE (not less) obsessed (which is saying something–because I was pretty dang smitten with Della, and she was number 3!).

I think I mentioned that Honor was sleeping great from the beginning but had yet to make the jump from 6 hours to anything longer consistently. Honestly, that was my fault. I hadn’t really hadto employ any of my more “hardcore” sleep-training techniques (letting him fuss before bed or cry a little at night) because he’d pretty much always slept for big chunks, since day 3.

But, one night, a few weeks ago, I put my mean mama mask on and put him in the bathroom when he started to stir after 6 hours and let him spit and mew for a bit (which he only did half-heartedly anyway). And the very next night, he bumped his sleeping stretch up to 8 hours and has been holding steady between 7-9 hours ever since.

Edit: I first wrote this a few days ago, but didn’t manage to get the pictures loaded (because that is the story of my life right now), and he slept a whopping 10 hours both of the last two nights!!

8 weeks

I slept 10 hours last night, and I feel grrrrrrEAT! (Also: baby feet). 

Which…is awfully considerate of him, since Theo has decided it’s time to try a little 2-year-old sleep regression on for size. Hint: it doesn’t look good on you, buddy. Mama thinks you’re the cutest toddler in the land, but she still has no interest in waking up at 3 AM to your chubby-cheeked self mouth-breathing an inch away from my nose.

As far as regular life, we’ve been pushing hard to get the house ready. It’s kind of a disheartening process. Just when I think we’ve got it in shape, the kids wake up. HA!

For real, though. It’s really, really hard to keep everything decluttered and straight and picked up when 9 people are con.stant.ly using it!

Still, the cabinets have been cleared out, their contents pared down, reorganized, wiped down, etc. The flowerbeds are completely done (and we haven’t killed anything yet!). Shaun has pressured-washed the exterior of the house. More loads of stuff than I even knew we owned have been carted off to Goodwill. (I’m starting to get downright ruthless…if it hasn’t been used in the last 15 minutes, it’s GONE).

And everyone has pitched in in his/her own way. I paid the oldest 3 a dollar each (which Della promptly gave to her grandma for her birthday…love that sweet girl!) to clean and organize my fridge, and it was 3 of the best dollars I’ve ever spent! They also completely overhauled and cleaned the pantry while I worked on closets, and it looks better than it has in years!

8 weeks4

Looking over into the kitchen and seeing moments like these–the older kids are painting the littles’ fingernails–give me such a boost of energy and motivation to keep plugging. 

As far as I’m concerned, I have ONE more space (a doozy) that serves as the game/outgrown clothes/pillow/suitcase/randomness closet, and it’s eating my lunch (mostly because I’m insisting on going through every last piece of 5 year old clothing instead of just shoving it all in bins), and the process of weeding out the stuff with the tiny stains I missed the first time and the stuff that’s just not cute enough to keep and the stuff that might come in handy (but who knows?!) is grueling for me. Well. As grueling as sifting through a surplus of possessions can be (we’re not talking about working in the rice paddies here, people).

Through it all, Honor continues to be a constant source of sunshine and snuggle breaks. MAN! I love this baby. I really couldn’t sugar-coat his existence if I tried because he’s just that sweet already.

8 weeks3

Best smile. Best baby. 

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Mama Life Hacks {#11}: Grape Juice + Activated Charcoal to Combat Stomach Bugs

A friend texted me a thank you the other day for posting this blog (which is several years old by this point) and observed that, if life ever gets too busy to post, I should just repost this one, since it was such a lifesaver and as many people as possible should see it (having been the recipient of this life-changing tip from several readers, I know how grateful I was too). 

The stomach bug has ravaging the entire East Texas area, and–while my children have emerged largely unscathed (so far) (the twins + Theo are the only ones who’ve had a short-lived bout with it after a stint in the Chick-fil-a play area #ofcourse)–you better believe that my pantry is stocked with both of these items at all times (and that they were a large part of the reason our only stomach bug this season passed so quickly). 

So! Here you go. A repost of what is currently my most popular blog post according to my analytics page (must not just be East Texas getting hit). 

If the title of this post doesn’t just steal every little bit of thunder I might have been able to conjure up for it, I don’t know what does. grape juice Still, I feel like a little more explanation is needed, so here goes:

About a year and 1/2 ago, Shaun was doing one of his marathon rounds of work trips that seem to come in waves during the spring and then again right around Christmas (when, unfortunately, everyone suddenly gets frantic to spend the rest of their budgets by the year’s end).

I had 5 kids, including 20-month-old twins, and I was pregnant with Theo. First trimester pregnant to be exact, so I was feeling suuuuuuper peppy and swell, as you can imagine.As you can also imagine, I was suuuuuuper thrilled when, pretty much the second that Shaun left for his first work trip, we came down with a stomach bug. Yup. Angels were singing and everything.

Before 24 hours had passed, every single one of my children was lying on the floor with a bowl by their sides. We couldn’t leave the house due to unpredictable puking patterns (is there any other kind?), and my feelings of thrilled-ness were just increasing by the moment. (Although, I was oh-so-grateful not to be sick myself). grape juice1 Which is when my kind, wonderful, awesome readers came to my rescue. I posted some sort of pitiful picture of us all, and several fellow mamas told me to get my hot *germ-covered) little hands on some 100% grape juice and a bottle of activated charcoal capsules ASAP.

I did a bunch of internet research and discovered that grape juice is, indeed, widely lauded as a preventative for stomach bugs. Something about the particular acid it carries is effective in combating stomach bug bacteria. (AKA the stuff that must, assuredly, coat every surface of the 7th level of Hades).

The most important thing to remember, though, is that it’s a preventative measure, not a cure. In other words, once you’re already puking, the only thing grape juice will produce is purple puke. And who needs that?

So! The next time the first victim succumbs to the stomach flu in your house, buy 100% (important not to get the “cocktail” or the “lite” or the “combined with other juices” version…you want the straight stuff) grape juice and get your kids to guzzling. If they’re anything like mine, they’ll be so excited to be given pure, undiluted juice on demand that they won’t ask why you’re suddenly so keen on their gulping it by the glassful. grape juice2 (Of course, the second Nola saw Evy being my model, she insisted: “Mama, I want my picker too!” And of COURSE, she was wearing nothing but undies, so I told her to go put something decent on if she wanted her moment in the spotlight…and this is what she came downstairs wearing. Eh. Could be worse)

The other little miracle that I mentioned is a bit of a harder sell for kids. Activated charcoal comes in little capsules that can be found at most drugstores (I found mine at Drug Emporium…is that a chain? I don’t know, but it sounds kind of shady, now that I think about it), and it basically works as an absorbent agent to soak up the bad bacteria in your gut.

I know that’s a super untechnical description of its properties, but even though I did my due diligence, it’s been a year and 1/2, and I don’t remember all the particulars. I do know that it’s safe, even for small kids, if administered correctly (be sure to do your research on amounts for small children and how often you should take it). And IT WORKS. And! It works once you’re already upchucking too. It helps to lessen the symptoms and shorten the sickness time.

Disclaimer: I think it goes without saying that I am NOT a doctor, nor do I claim to be. Before you ingest anything to help with sickness, you should make sure that you’ve done your own research and consulted your own doctor if you have any questions or are unsure about dosages/usages. grape juice4 Okay, so going back to that time I mentioned when we got sick. Well, Shaun had to travel again a couple of weeks later, and you know what? We got sick AGAIN. What?? So wrong. But this time, I was stocked up on grape juice and activated charcoal capsules, and I got everybody drinking their anti-voms cocktails as fast as you could yell, “BOWL!”

And you know what? That time, only Della (our first to fall) got sick. GLORY! To mix up this lovely, magical concoction, you simply twist the capsules of activated charcoal open, and stir in one full capsule (for older children and adults; I use fractions of capsules for younger). You can do this multiple times a day (up to a point…again…RESEARCH!).

It doesn’t have a taste, and the grape juice completely masks the inky black color, but it does have a bit of a gritty texture that you’ll feel on your teeth afterwards, so I suggest downing it as fast as you can go. You can even make it a game with your kids to see who can finish first! And then everybody can snicker at each other’s black mustaches.

I’ve used this trick every time we’ve had even a whiff of the stomach crud for the past 18 months (my kids don’t get sick often, but considering our frequent trips to the gym daycare, the sickness does tend to rear its ugly head 2-3 times a year), including this past weekend (you might recall that I mentioned that we stayed home from church due to sickness), and it has made such a difference–so much so that rarely do more than one or two of us get the nastiness and then only for 12 hours or less.

So, there you go! One of my BEST Mama Life Hacks for you. I’d happily give credit where it’s due, but honestly, it was multiple mamas who shared this little nugget o’ pure gold, so my heartfelt thanks goes out to all of you.

Tell me: did you already know about the grape juice trick? What about activated charcoal? Any “fun” vom stories to tell? We had a nice little incident in Subway when Della hadn’t puked for 48 hours, and I thought we were in the clear that involved an unfortunate amount of puke on the floor right near the drink dispenser + a total lack of readily available wipes on my part (#momfail), and the stingiest stack of napkins ever from the young male Subway employee who had clearly never cleaned up toddler vomit . (Oddly enough, we no longer frequent this Subway).

Any great #mamalifehacks to share? Leave them in the comments, or hashtag them on social media, and who knows? I might just feature YOU! (And then, your life would be made. I just know it).

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That time I didn’t go to Hawaii…

 

A few months before I started blogging, Shaun and I took a trip to Hawaii with Della (who was only two months old at the time).

kauai

{An evening excursion to the beach the first night we were there}

It was a fun trip, but I discovered while I was there that I don’t love Hawaii (because, apparently, if you don’t absolutely fall in love with Kauai, then Hawaii is not in your soul because it doesn’t get better than Kauai). Don’t get me wrong. Kauai is gorgeous. It just didn’t inspire the raptures in me that it does in some.

So, when Shaun found out that he would be going to Honolulu on a work trip, my initial thought was that I would try to go, but I wasn’t as excited as you might expect. Mostly because–having traveled once before to Hawaii with a newborn–I knew the limitations/challenges. Della did AH-MAZING everywhere we went…even on the 6 hour flights there and back. She hardly made a peep. And Honor is an equally chill baby, so he probably would have done well too. But still…he is a newborn. Who blows out his diaper, needs to eat often, and gets cranky if we can’t find him a quiet place to sleep.

Plus! The timing was terrible. We’re smack dab in the middle of getting our house ready to sell, and, as my friend Kristy says: “There’s nothing like moving to make you feel like hoarder.” (AKA: what IS all this stuff, and what idiot bought it?? Oh. Yeah. Me).

All that to say that I chose not to go. Instead I stayed home with 7 kids and did yard work. I know. What a doofus, right? But all I could think about was how busy Shaun usually is on his work trips and how I’m not a big beach girl and how I’d rather sell our house quickly than frolic by the pool. (Hmm…maybe not that last one).

Turns out, this was one of Shaun’s least busy trips. He got to surf and hike. He has told me more than once that I “should have come” (although, he was fine/in agreement with my decision to stay).

So, 7% of me (the whiny 7%) is all, “Booo! Poor me! Should have gone!” But the other 93% knows I did the right thing. The kids and I got SO much done (with help from my sweet parents, sister-in-law, and some awesome friends), and I know I would have been stressed by all that was still left to get done when I got back from Hawaii.

Plus, a super bizarre thing happened to my dad, which, although not his fault at all, still required a lot of running around and trouble for my mom. And that stress would have been magnified greatly by having six kids under her care. For that reason alone, I’m grateful that I didn’t go and grateful that the Lord is sovereign even down to the smallest detail.

Also, grateful that our flower beds are DONE! I’ve admitted here several times before that exteriors are not my forte. So, having that particular monkey off my back is a huge relief. We have friends whose family business is a plant farm, so last Friday, I dragged the four littlest out of bed before it was fully light and drove out to their plant farm, where our friend, Rob, proceeded to race me around helping me (code for: practically choosing for me, thank goodness) choose flowers. Then, I hustled home, unloaded the van, jumped back in and drove to town to teach my morning class. After which, I booked it home to start planting, stopping for mulch on the way. My mom and older kids were already there hacking away at my neglected flower beds.

flower beds

 

{Theo is napping and Honor is in the swing on the porch in this picture, in case you’re wondering}

I know that I talk a lot about how #hardisnotthesamethingasbad and, honestly, I think that one of the hardest and best things in mothering is child-training. Especially training your children to do the right thing–i.e. obey, go to bed, pick up after themselves, speak respectfully, work. 

Sure, potty-training is rough, but it’s less of a heart issue than so many other aspects, and training your child to be diligent or full of integrity or kind is where the true mama rubber meets the life road.

Surely, that’s why the Bible specifically commands us to: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.

God knew we needed this promise. Because it’s just so much easier to do the chore yourself or ignore the eye roll or let the toddler sleep with you every night, amiright? Except that it’s really not. It’s easier at the time. But ultimately, laziness, whining,  bad attitudes, and no sleep are a hardship on everyone involved (including the whiners) and makes the inconvenience of the initial training pale in comparison. 

Not to mention that kids can be genuinely helpful. All of my kids (except Honor and–99% of the time–Theo) have been required to pitch in as we’ve organized closets, weeded, planted, swept, scrubbed trim, hauled out trash, and just generally given our house a much-needed shine-up.

honor

{This was Honor’s reaction when I told him we needed his help with the flowerbeds. #sideeye}

And, yes, there has been some fussing and complaining. But there’s been a lot more cooperation and hard work. I hadn’t told Shaun what we planned to do while he was gone (although, he knew that I would generally be working around the house to get things in shape), and the kids loved the concept of wowing Daddy with a surprise yard makeover.

Simon–who started out finding things to kvetch about–ended up being upset that he had to have any help raking and clearing our entire (very large) front yard. He wanted to be able to present Shaun with a leaf-free lawn courtesy of Simon alone. He ended up needing a little help to finish, but that idea of ownership was a huge motivation for him.

I don’t always encourage my children the way that I should, but I do try to take every opportunity to tell them how important they are to our family. Their worth is inherent, of course. But I also tell them almost daily how their help keeps a particular aspect of our household running smoothly. And they love it. They grin from ear-to-ear every time I praise their efforts.

I don’t mean to broadly generalize, but it does seem that our society has something very backward when it comes to kids and young people in general. They are handed more knowledge (much of it completely inappropriate) than they know what to do with or have the maturity to process correctly. But they are given very little responsibility or true opportunities to grow in maturity through manageable, age-appropriate tasks and goals.

What if, instead, we protected our children’s innocence while respecting their potential to contribute?

What if we trained their hearts while shielding their minds from junk and praising their authentic efforts to help?

Again, I’m far from perfect in this pursuit. But it is my goal. I want my children to honor God first with their attitudes and then be a blessing to others with the actions that follow (because just “doing the right thing” without the right heart attitude is only half the battle). And not just because it glorifies God or benefits man but also because it produces character and joy for them.

chaos

{If you’re like me, then sometimes, when bloggers claim that their house is a “hot mess,” but all you ever see are perfectly styled pictures, you think: “Yeah right. Not MY version of a hot mess, it’s not!” Well…see Exhibit A of Hot Mess Central. It definitely gets worse before it gets better. This is what happens when you empty every single kitchen drawer of its contents so that you can clean all the things}

Because I only want good for my children, but, just as hard is not the same thing as bad, easy is very often not the same thing as good.

And seeing how my children glowed when their daddy got home and gushed with pride and appreciation for how hard they’d worked only underscored just how rewarding the results of training can be.

ANYhoo, I hadn’t started this post intending to preach at you, but I hope that–if you’re in the trenches of child-training (I still am, for sure)–you’ll feel encouraged to hang in there.

My children have spent the vast majority of their spring break weeding, mulching, cleaning, and planting. And–as Ezra cheerfully proclaimed after a full day’s work–”Getting stuff done is FUN!” (Not always how he feels about it, but the fact that it’s EVER how he feels is enough to motivate me to stay the course).

flower beds1

So. Much. Progress. Want to come buy our house? ;)

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Baby Brain

You know how people are always talking about the things they’re going to ask God once they get to heaven?

Well, I’m inclined to think that–once we’re there and behold His glory–we’re not going to care. We humans are so intent on thinking that this earthly world of ours is all there is–that the affairs of it are the only ones that could possibly matter. We’re so NOW that we often can’t imagine caring (or not caring) about anything else.

If it sounds like I’m about to embark on a lengthy philosophical treatise about eternity, nothing could be further from the truth.

I just wanted to establish what I REALLY think about the subject of asking God WHY before I very frivolously claim that, when I get to heaven, I intend to ask God about the phenomenon of “baby brain.”

I’m sure I won’t really.

But here on this earth, I find myself befuddled about–well, a lot of things, including where I put my phone, which was JUST in my hands (oh yeah, it’s in my back pocket ::sheepish chuckle::). But mainly, I’m curious why, after you’ve had a baby, it seems that someone has liquified your brain and siphoned it out of your ear. I mean, I get that the lack of sleep thing is a major contributing factor. That makes sense. But the rest of it? You’ve just been entrusted with a tiny human, whom you must feed, care for, and generally shield from harm, and yet you find your IQ suddenly reduced to that of a slug. Who hasn’t slept in weeks (do slugs sleep? surely). HOW are we supposed to keep a baby alive when we’re constantly walking into rooms with zero inkling of why we’re there, and there’s at least a chance we’ll try to clean our teeth with our hairbrushes if we’re not careful.

baby brain

It’s a good thing you’re cute, you little brain-sucker. Because I used to be marginally intelligent. I think. 

And the talking? It’s hopeless. This one has been the most pronounced for me this time around. As if I didn’t already have enough names to get wrong with regular old kid brain. Now, I’ve added another name, and my gray matter is in an extraordinary state of mush, which means that I stare directly at one of my children (who knows which) and intone: “Ezra! Simon! Evy! Theo! Faith! (a cat)…ugh! N-O-L-A!!!!!”

Every single time.

I called Honor “Theo” 9 times out of 10 for the first week of his life.

The other day, I explained to Simon that he needed to get a towel from the pantry to clean up a spill because I’d already put all of the dirty ones in the dishwasher. And the most astonishing thing about that scenario is that I hadn’t actually done either of those things…just messed up the nouns.

It is a genuine struggle for me to form sentences these days, people. Often to hilarious effect. Except that, usually, I have no idea what I’ve just said. My children sure are enjoying it, though.

It’s just a constant stream of: “You said, ‘dinner.’ Did you mean, ‘lunch?’” And: “You said, ‘Drink your yogurt.’ How am I supposed to do that?”

Funny, kids. Real funny. Your mother is thisclose to the insane asylum, and you’re goading her. That’s dangerous. She is the one who makes the food, after all.

haircuts

Hey look! It’s Who’s-it, What’s-it, That girl, What’s-his-name, and What’s-her-face (plus two more that I really can’t place).

And teaching fitness classes is a total lark. I have to memorize large amounts of choreography that  coordinate exactly with specific beats of specific music. And, when your brain is only functioning at 7%, that is quite a feat. Sometimes, an unmanageable one. I do all right, for the most part. But yesterday, as I was teaching BODYCOMBAT, a song started, and my brain literally stalled. And I just stood there, thinking: I don’t even know which appendage to move first. One of my participants, who practically knows the choreography better than I do, starting moving her legs, so I followed her, even though I was sure she wasn’t quite right. We did half the track before my brain finally remembered what it was supposed to be telling my body to do.

Argh.

I would say it’s embarrassing. But many of my faithfuls have been taking my classes since I was pregnant with Della, so they’re kind of used to the drill. Abbie just had a baby. Abbie will not be firing on all cylinders for a while. ::Shrug::

know I’m not alone–that baby brain is a very real thing (even if our husbands don’t believe it).

But what I want to know is: what is the funniest/worst/baby brainiest moment you’ve had as a mama?

Mine is actually kind of major. And maybe I’ll share it someday. But not right now (I know; so mean). Honor’s hungry, and the rest of the natives are getting restless.

Whatever their names are…

P.S. If you find an unusually large number of typos in this post, well, I would expect no less.

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