Category Archives: Move-it Monday

Move-it Monday: Project Elephant—Fabric Art + Rejoice!

Welp. Today is a Monday. For sure. Nothing so terribly wrong. Just…Monday. Please tell me you know what I mean?

In the interest of full disclosure and honesty, here’s what this week’s Project Elephant checklist looks like:

project elephant checklist1[4]

Yup. That would be half done with the closets (the ugly half of it…the half where I got it all out but have only gotten the boys’ clothes back, and Della’s room looks like a bomb went off at the little girl dress factory) and one of my fabric art pieces redone.

fabric art

Tada!

Let me just say that I picked that word for my chalkboard ($15 on clearance from Marshall’s) very intentionally because it was a) how I feel about the cooler weather that has made its way to sweaty East Texas and b) a desperately needed reminder for everything else besides the weather.

You know you’re a bit tense when you tell your husband to get away from you because you can tell he’s about to do something disgustingly sweet like hug you, and you don’t want to start bawling because there’s too much to do, and crying just won’t get it done.

And then you write a word like, “Rejoice,” with the one decrepit piece of chalk you can find in the entire house as your oldest bongs on the piano keys, and the twins scream in their high chairs because they ran out of snacks, and the 2-year-old shrieks in horror at the fact that her middle brother just yanked a blanket out of her hands and ran off laughing maniacally.

And you start to giggle. Because it’s almost funny just how easy your life is and yet how easily stressed you get.

My children are happy and healthy (and can prove it with their volume). What more could I ask for? And yet I have so. much. more. The fact is I’m happy to dwell on words like, “Rejoice,” when the children are quiet (read: napping), and I’m caught up on the laundry (read: never).

But here’s the truth of what I’m called to do:

 rejoice

via

ALWAYS.

Darn. I was so hoping Monday gave me a pass.

So, here’s to gentle nudges from the Holy Spirit (“Rejoice” was literally the only word I could think to write in the midst of the cacophony) and half-finished projects.

After all, as I might have mentioned before, it’s not about perfection. It’s about progress. Even (or maybe especially) if some of that progress happens in my own heart.

So, what about you guys? Did you fare better than I did this week? I’d love to see the chomps you took out of your elephant!

Link up or just leave a comment below or brag about it via social media with the hashtag #projectelephant!

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Move-it Monday: Project Elephant {#2}—The Plate Wall

Good Monday morning!

Ready to take another bite out of your elephant, er, to-do list?

Just in case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, you can read the original Project Elephant post, and then come on back.

(You can also take a gander at my first Project Elephant accomplishment—my redone front flower beds).

Here’s what my list looks like currently:

project elephant checklist1[4]

Hooray for progress!

To be completely honest, after I showed you my plate wall “before”…

plate wall before

…not much changed for quite a while.

Hanging things is not my forte. I tend to over-think it. If there’s a word for majorly over-thinking something (majover-thinking??), then that’s what I do. I measure and worry and fret. I make marks with pencils, then erase them, leaving unsightly smudges on the paint. I make (messy) diagrams. And then, finally, when I am satisfied that I have left nothing to chance, I tap one tiny nail into the wall, eyes squinted almost shut in dread at making a mistake. Then I start hanging things on those tiny nails…and discover that all of my obsessive tweaking and measuring was for naught. Because something is always at least a little bit wonky.

My husband is exactly the opposite. I can explain where I want things (because that part I’m good at), and he stands there holding it, makes a little mark, then confidently slams a nail into the wall, hangs the thing, and—WALA!—it looks fantastic. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but if there’s a term for hanging-challenged (that doesn’t make me want to make some sort of morbid joke about stretchy necks), I’m that.

Which is a reeeeeeally long, roundabout way of saying that I kept putting off hanging my plate wall because I knew if I did it alone, it would take me three hours, and I would probably still hate it when I got done.

Good thing I’m married to Super Hanging Man (who is desperately wishing I would stop giving him such dubious titles).

Because after a little noodling (Bwahahaha! I originally typed canoodling. Whoa, there, Abbie) around with different plate configurations on our living room floor (whilst 5 small children ran amuck, threatening to make Project Elephant: Plate Wall a moot point since broken plates don’t hang super well), we got after it.

I don’t really have any progress shots for you. Not that you need them since this is a fairly simple process. Plus, they mostly would have consisted of pictures of Shaun’s holding plates in various positions with a quizzical expression on his face, my cutting up more grapes to keep the twins occupied every 5 minutes, and my other kids’ sliming a Hello Kitty coloring book with glitter glue.

(If you really want to be entertained by our shenanigans, then you need to go check out their reaction to our “new” piano).

ANYhoo, after the configuation conoodling, I sketched out a very rough diagram so I wouldn’t forget where everything went in the 3 minutes it took to transfer it all from the the living room to the breakfast nook (a very real possibility when I regularly walk very purposefully into a room, then freeze and wonder why in peaches I am standing in the mudroom, holding tape, and staring at the paint shelf).

IMG_6099

(I told you it was rough; isn’t my handwriting divine?)

And when all of the directing and quizzical expression and nail-pounding and glitter glue clean-up was said and done (only about 30 minutes of it, though), we had this:

plate wall 9

It sort of has a pattern. I love symmetry too much to be completely random. And I’m already twitching a little wanting to move a few of them around a bit. But for the most part, we just eyeballed it. Because that usually turns out considerably better than all my careful measuring. 

I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for a few more that will coordinate, but I’m happy with it for now.

plate wall 10

There’s lots of other color in the room, like in the mustard-colored chandelier:

plate wall 2 

And this cute little cream pitcher.

plate wall 5 

…not to mention my bright curtains:

plate wall 11

I’m still in the process of tweaking this room, but I’m thrilled to have that wall, which has sat blank for so long, filled with something cheerful and colorful at last.

plate wall 7

As far as the actual sources for my plates, some are from Goodwill (the yellow and the two teal solids), a few are from Marshall’s/Ross (the two diamond shapes and the purple flower), and the bird plate is originally from Pier 1 (sometimes, you can still find one on Ebay) but was a gift from Mandy.

The only ones you might be able to still find in stores are the blue and white damask platter, which is actually melamine and is from Walmart (I couldn’t find it online) and the three small plates (coral, green, and coral/green floral), which are also melamine, from Target.

And as far as the actual process: all but the melamine plates (which we hung with Command strips) are hung with nails and plate hangers (which you can buy from Michael’s with a 50% off coupon for about a $1-1.50 each).

It’s probably a $60-70 project all told. Not the cheapest DIY art ever. But quite the bargain for such a large scale impact.

Oh, and the wall color, in case you were wondering, is Sherwin Williams Really Teal.

So…now it’s your turn! How did you fare with Week 2 of Project Elephant? Remember: it’s not about perfection. It’s about progress!

Link up if you wrote a post about it, or you can always leave a comment (even attach pictures) or leave me a link on the Facebook page or Instagram using the hashtag #projectelephant.

CHOMP, CHOMP!

Linking up at Tatertots and Jello.

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Move-it Monday: PROJECT ELEPHANT {#1}—Updated Flower Beds

Well, I’m about 2 hours behind on this post (that’s what happens when your alarm goes off at a ridiculously early hour, and you think, “5 more minutes, Mom…” only to wake up an hour and a 1/2 later to the sound of twins crying. Doh).

HOWEVER. The most important thing is that, late post or not, here’s what my Project Elephant check list looks like now:

project elephant checklist1[4]

That’s right. It might have taken me a full week of this:

before 4

and this:

before2

and this:

 before 3  

and this:

WATER HOSE

{Because I’m so sure Daddy wanted three little “helpers” as he moved the sprinkler hose}

…oh and this:

kids working

{I love Della’s optimism}

But when you start out with this:

before 

and this:

old flower beds

{Yes, I know that picture is crazy blurry, but it’s the best I could find after I completely forgot to take a before picture of the front beds because I was so excited to get after them with the tiller. Pretty much, just imagine all that scraggly ugliness from the pic above this one repeated along the length of these beds, and you’ll have it}

and you finally end up with this:

new flower beds

{I spy someone cute}

…a week of stop-start gardening is totally worth it.

If you feel a little underwhelmed by the “big reveal,” I totally understand. I was very tempted to wait a few weeks before I showed you The After so my plants could have a chance to really establish themselves and flourish (seeing as how I planted them in the scorching late August/early September East Texas heat and just about killed them by taking so long to get them in the ground).

But then I reminded myself that Project Elephant is not about perfection. Project Elephant is about progress.

And this…

new flower beds 5

…is progress.

(My mama, who works hard to keep up her pretty yard and is, I’m sure, mortified at her daughter’s deplorable gardening “skills,” is nodding her head emphatically right now).

Of course, my favorite parts are the colorful bits like this one:

new flower beds 4

and this little beauty:

new flower beds 3

But more than anything, I’m thrilled to have everything neat and respectable, even if it’s not exactly the wild profusion of English garden blooms that I dream of.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering what the twins were doing during all of this planting business…

flower bed and twins 

I do believe the answer is: wearing more of their food than they ate. (Nola is in front there).

So, what about you guys? Did you manage to check one thing off your Project Elephant list?

If you blogged about it, you can link up your post here:

 

And if you don’t have a blog but still want to participate and cheer and be cheered on, you can leave a link to a FB or Instagram post OR just leave a picture with a description of your accomplishments in the comments.

Use the hashtag #projectelephant on FB, Twitter, and Instagram, and everyone playing along will be able to see all of your posts.

I’m so thankful for you guys and the accountability you provide just by showing up and reading and leaving encouraging comments. Even if I’m the only one who gets into this Project Elephant business, I am grateful for the motivation!

So…thanks! Y’all rock!

 five days five ways | because every day is different

OH, and for Judy, who asked if I could provide a simplified elephant image so that she could write her goals ON THE ELEPHANT itself (kind of brilliant, really), here it is!

project elephant simple

(Just right click on the image and save it to your computer, and then you can print it)

P.S. Don’t forget to enter to win an awesome kids’ worship CD/DVD combo from Yancy Not Nancy!

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Move-it Monday: Project Elephant

Happy Labor Day, everybody! (for those of you not in the U.S., Labor Day is an American holiday for which practically everybody gets off work; ironic much?)

In honor of the day that should be about getting stuff done but isn’t, I wanted to introduce to you something that I’m really excited about.

project elephant

What is Project Elephant, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. But first, a little background. Last weekend, as I was hacking away at the clay in our front flower beds, digging a hole for a new shrub that will go a long way towards reviving the plant graveyard that has been gracing the front of our house for, oh, a good 2 years now, I thought, between grunts: “Why has it taken me so long to do this? This feels good! And now, I won’t have to cringe in shame as I endure the 20 seconds between when my guests get out of their cars and when they enter my front door.”

Clearly, I’m not a green thumb (although, I’m sure if I actually remembered to water my plants, my thumb—and the flowers—would be considerably less black). But that’s not the only thing that has me asking, “What is taking me so long?”

I have closets that need organizing, rooms that need finishing, things that need hanging, grout that needs scrubbing, holes that need patching. And on and on and on the list goes.

And I do check a thing or two off that list on a regular basis. But life—oh, LIFE—gets in the way. And I get overwhelmed by 5 small humans to take care of, dinner to get on the table, exercise classes to teach, a husband to love on, friends to spend time with, birthday parties to plan, and…AAAAAaah! Suddenly, decluttering a closet feels about as doable as hiking Mt. Everest. Backwards. While wearing stilettos.

But back to those ugly flowerbeds. As I scratched at the dirt, I was thinking about the blog and planning out some projects in my head. I was mulling over Move-it Monday, which has had me thematically stumped (should it be about exercise? should I stick with updates from the weekend? room reveals? change it completely?) for a while now. And I was praying: “Lord, help me to use my blog to glorify you and bless my family. Please don’t let it be a distraction or a burden. Grant me inspiration and direction.”

I finished planting my shrubs and headed upstairs to take a shower, and almost as soon as I turned on the water, this popped into my head:

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

A: One bite at a time.

And I knew it was an answer to my prayer from earlier. I also knew what to do about Move-it Monday. There are projects that have taunted me for weeks…months…heck, years, in some cases. But the everyday living always takes precedence because I tend to think of those projects in terms of completion. I won’t call it a success unless that entire laundry room is redone, by golly. When, really, I could just organize that one corner today, and it would be a victory. And I have 20 minutes to do that, even if I don’t have the 12 hours it would take to do the whole thing.

Which is where Project Elephant comes in. Because something tells me I’m not the only one living in the land of Never-Ending To-do Lists.

Maybe you don’t have 5 kids and a blog. But maybe you do have a full-time job. Or a packed class schedule. Or a new baby. Or an ailing relative to take care of. Or health problems yourself. Or…whatever.

So, here I am, inviting you to tackle one doable project a week with me. Hang a shelf. Paint one wall. Scrub one floor. Put 5 pictures in their frames. And then stand on your sparkling floor, 5 weeks later, and marvel at the awesome picture display on your newly painted wall. 5 weeks may seem like a lot for one wall, but it’s a whole heckuva lot better than 5 months. Or never.

From here until…well, we’ll just play it by ear…for Move-it Monday, I will show you one completed project. One bite out of the elephant, if you will.

It can be anything: an art project, a research project, a DIY project, a writing project. Doesn’t matter as long as I check it off the list instead of dreading it for one more week.

And I’m inviting you to join in! If you’re a blogger, I’ll provide a linky, so you can show off your accomplishments. If you’re not a blogger, but you want in, you can brag about it on Instagram or FB, leave the link in the comments, and I’ll stop by and check out your progress and cheer you on!

If you want to grab a button, I’d be thrilled (the more the merrier!)

Here it is:

five days five ways | because every day is different

 

So, meet me here, next Monday morning, 7 AM sharp (or whenever you feel like showing up) for the start of Project Elephant.

Code word: CHOMP.

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Move-it Monday: Twin 1st Birthday Party Inspiration

In less than one month, Evy and Nola will be 1-year-old. Are you shocked? Because I’m not. I’m something a little closer to completely-blown-away-and-in-utter-denial. How in the name of ridiculously small newborn diapers and night-time feedings has it already almost been one full year since this happened?

How in the world did they get from this:

birth pics

to this?:

IMG_5486

I don’t know. Because I’m pretty sure they were doing their best impressions of (adorable) sleeping little sluglettes only yesterday. And now, they’re crawling and teething and standing up (Evy is doing some really awesome “surfing” these days) and babbling and saying their brothers’ names (I’m trying not to take it too personally that Nola decided to say “Ezra” before she even gave “Mama” a fair shake).

So, with all this almost-oneness comes the looming prospect of a 1st birthday party TIMES TWO!

I’ve been plumbing the shallows depths of my mama brain to come up with a completely original, totally great, kid-friendly, fantastically awesome Twin Party.

In other words, I’ve been on Pinterest. (You can find me here).

And here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

bloomers

{via}

Love the bloomers and the balloons (actually, everything in the shot is absolutely gorgeous!).

This invitation is pretty stinkin’ adorable too.

twice the fun invitation 

{via}

As is this one:

owl birthday invite

{via}

Owls seemed to be a common twin theme, although I don’t think there’s any explanation for that (in my brief Google “research,” I didn’t turn up any support for owls being born in pairs). But, while I think this invitation is crazy-cute, and I’m a fan of all the owl-dorableness (groan), my trend-bucking tendencies pretty much won’t allow me to do something that’s so popular right now.

Speaking of been there, done that…

thing one thing 2

{via}

Yup. Not too surprisingly, Thing 1/Thing 2 was the most common twin-themed party idea in all of Pinterest-land.

Oddly enough, I didn’t see a single entry for these guys:

tweedledee-tweedledum-2

Okay, so maybe it’s not so odd. After all, who wants to throw their darling babies a party based around a pair of dour, bowling-ball-shaped brothers? I mean, even if you are into dressing up your little ones in primary colors, flag-topped beanies, and floppy collars + bow-ties, your twins are going to be too busy being grumpy about the atomic wedgies they get from those red, armpit-level pants to enjoy their cake. Plus, how do you decide which one has the misfortune of being Tweedle-DUM?

So…obviously, I’ve mostly managed to figure out what I DON’T want to do.

Of course, I could always just go with my husband’s suggestion and make this little cutie our 1st birthday mascot.

Armadillo[1]

 

According to him (and, again, Google) armadillos are the only mammal who gives birth to identical quadruplets…every single time. (Poor Mama Armadillo).

While that’s super-interesting and all, I took it upon myself to remind him that armadillos are gross and that we don’t have identical quadruplets. Also, armadillos are gross.

Then again, I think I know what the cake would look like:

armadillo cake

{via}

And then our signature party colors could be “blush and bashful.”

That’s it. Our party theme is SET. It’s going to be epic.

Ahem.

So, I do like the idea of customized birthday onesies. These are cute:

twin onesies

{via}

And I think my favorite idea so far is to avoid a specific theme altogether in favor of a general theme of the “Two are better than one,” verse from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 that I wrote on the little chalkboard in their room.

So, here’s where you come in. I’ve got some ideas already, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on things that are better in pairs (or, at the very least, come in pairs…and don’t look like armadillos).

Just leave me a comment with your suggestion, and then, when I do a party post, you’ll see which ones I ended up using! Thanks ahead of time for your help!

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Move-it Monday: Do I have to come home?

It is my considered opinion that all vacations should extend through Monday. We head home today, but after a weekend full of fun, friends, and food (oh, so much food), I’m grateful for one more day to gather 7 people’s worth of paraphernalia (anybody want to take bets on how many things we’re going to leave behind?) and take our time getting home rather than hightailing it back on a Sunday evening and waking up all cranky and stressed Monday morning. I may not feel very friendly toward Tuesday tomorrow, but I’m willing to risk it for the sake of loving Monday right now. Just call me Esau

Zzzzzzzz….

Huh, what? Oh, hi there. Sorry. I just dozed off a little. That’s what I do when my tummy is full. And right now, my tummy is VEEEEEEEEEERY full. We’re talking cookies and pie, fruit and trail mix, brisket (Simon: “Oh, yaaaay! I LOOOOOVE biscuits!” face palm) and beef stroganoff, and so much more…almost none of which I prepared. Heavenly. And oh-so-dangerous. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that I’m pretty sure I legitimately gained 2 pounds in three days. That’s talent, folks.

Anyhoo, I thought I’d give you a recap of our lovely, relaxing weekend with even lovelier people. David and Donna, who are related to me somehow (David is my dad’s first cousin…so what does that make him to me? I never get the whole second cousin/1st-cousin-once-removed business right) invited us out to their lake house on Lake Livingston, which is a gracious, spacious home already supplied with everything from linens to shampoo to snacks, not to mention oodles of lake gear. Their family wasn’t there at first, but they joined us Friday evening, and Donna—who is the ultimate hostess—spent the next two days fattening us up spoiling us rotten by making meals and cleaning up after our children’s messes, all usually while insisting on holding one of the twins on her hip.

Like this:

IMG_5185 

{This lady is nice, and Evy thought so too, despite her somewhat disgruntled expression here; she’d probably just gotten a whiff of her sister’s diaper}

And here’s an impromptu family photo we nabbed with my cell phone when we all still had morning face. But, honestly, it’s probably getting framed since 6 out of 7 of us are actually looking at the camera, and 5 of us are smiling. Pretty sure the odds of that are like 1 in 2,345,673. So, it’s a keeper.

family pic

Oh, and here’s the taste of everything we got up to (mostly via cell phone pics again):

vacation collage

I won’t even bother to call out rows because this is in totally random order, but as you can see, there was a whole lot of chilling (literally: HOMEMADE SNOW CONES!), baby snuggling (much of it by David and Donna’s very sweet daughters and their friend), reading, eating, playing, storm-cloud watching, and much, much more (and less, all at once).

It was the perfect trip to top off a very enjoyable summer. I’m not going to lie and say I’m ready for it to be over. But I certainly can’t complain. God has been (and continues to be) very good to our family, and I am so thankful for the memories we made this weekend.

And now, considering the huge pile of laundry to be folded and the multitude of little people’s shoes to be found, it’s time to get a MOVE ON!

What’s in store for your Monday?

P.S. See that bottom left pic of me and Evy? I actually think she looks the most like me of any of my children because our eyes are shaped the same. I don’t think the same thing about Nola, though. And they’re identical twins. Weird.

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Move-it Monday: I DECLARE I had a great weekend!

You know your weekend was good when you spend all of Sunday trying to recover and falling asleep in the middle of doing things like reading to your toddler and chatting with your mama.

I spent Friday and Saturday at a blogging conference called Declare, and although I’ve only been to one other blogging conference (Blissdom, about 18 months ago), I’ll go ahead and exclaim: this was the BEST blogging conference EV.ER! :)

For one, it was small (about 100 women), which definitely lent itself to allowing the participants to get to know each other more easily. Another perk (for me, anyway) was the fact that it was an explicitly Christian conference. No one blog represented there was exactly the same as another, but we were all united by our desire to glorify Jesus with our words and actions. There was awesome worship (pretty much every women in that room had mascara streaks down her cheeks when the last song faded and the lights came back up) and just an overall feeling of encouragement and surprising humility (surprising because—hello—we’re bloggers, the most narcissistic species of writers out there).

Here’s a peak at some of the details:

declare collge

Great food (top and bottom left; apparently, I couldn’t wait to take a bite of that chicken before I got my picture in)

Great speakers: one of my favorites was Tony Evans’ daughter, Chrystal (,top row, 2nd from the left) who has just co-written a book with her dad called Kingdom Woman, and gave a brief, informal talk about how she defines the title of her book, complete with anecdotes about how her daughter didn’t shower for 7 straight days at camp one year because there were spiders in the shower.

The music was awesome too. And while the worship team was great, my favorite was Shaun Groves (3rd row, 2nd from the left) who provided, in his words, “background music” while we ate dinner and then made us all giggle with stories about how his adopted son, Sambhaji—pronounced like “somebody,” but with a J—starts hollering, “MY song!” every time he hears Queen’s “Somebody to Love!” Of course, then he made us cry with his description of the plight of the many orphans that Compassion International (for whom he is an ambassador) is helping to rescue. Good, good stuff. 

Lots of swag and fun sponsors + a chance to meet with a literary agent and pick her brain about publishing and a couple of book ideas I have (2nd row).

New friends! Like Heather (top row), Christa, Wynne, Jenna (3rd row), and Jess (bottom row).

I even nailed my “Making the Most of DIY Blogging” presentation—the success of which I attribute to the extremely kind and attentive group that I got to talk to and also to the fact that my talk was supposed to last an hour, I started at 3:30, and when I finished and looked down at my watch, it was 4:29. WOOT! I mean, maybe I said something worthwhile too. But I’m most proud of my precise timing. Who wouldn’t be?

(Would anybody like to see a post here on the blog called “Making the most of DIY blogging?” (I already have the nooooootes!)

I’d be less than truthful if I said that I enjoyed every second of the conference, and I’ll tell you more about that later on this week, but suffice it to say that that was nobody’s fault but mine because the people and the experience couldn’t have been better.

If you think a blogging conference might be in your future, I encourage you to put Declare ‘14 down on your calendar. You won’t regret it!

And now it’s time to unpack (because, yes, I “packed” for a one night stay in a city only 2 hours away) and do all the Monday stuff that still needs doing (which is pretty much all of it).

And…it’s time to get a MOVE ON!

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Move-it Monday: Meet Lola, the HP Laptop {Review}

This week is going to be biz-zy. I could have typed frant-ic, but I’m hoping and praying that’s not the case. Of course, there’s nothing like fun new free technology to make you feel better about the fact that, on the first day of your crazy-busy week, your toddler woke up at 4 AM, and there were babies crying before your (very early) alarm ever went off.

Take a gander at this:

lolacollage

That’s the shiny new HP 2000-2c32nr 15.6″ Laptop that Staples was nice enough to send me to try out. When they contacted me about doing a review, I jumped at the chance because a) it’s a laptop (duh), and b) it had one important feature that my current laptop lacks that I was really looking forward to.

IMG_4804

That would be the “SuperMulti DVD burner.” And, yes, I know that it sounds like I just made that up to be fancy, but it’s the actual phrase that HP uses to describe my shiny new laptop’s (I do believe she needs a name, yes?) “optical drive” (aka: DVD player).

My current laptop is a featherweight, and, while I love its portability, I don’t love the fact that its slender frame doesn’t allow for a DVD drive, which means that I can’t bring my BODYPUMP and BODYCOMBAT choreography DVDs with me to the gym like I did when I owned a heftier laptop. Neither can I use to it to play movies for my kids when we find ourselves in one of the 14,567 scenarios that require me to have all 5 of them with me and keep them entertained with minimal damage to our surroundings and everyone else’s eardrums.

IMG_4793

{Nice, clear image: check; Good volume: check; Simon Baker’s tousled hair: not gonna lie; I  wouldn’t cry if one of my boy’s hair turns out like this}

But now that I have Lola (because, yes, Lola Laptop, is what I christened her, oh, 2 seconds ago), the fact that the kids and I will be taking a trip to get my van’s inspection done and oil changed doesn’t seem like a big deal. We’ll be taking along one of the Torchlighter’s DVDs I bought Ezra for his birthday (and highly recommend to anyone who wants their children to learn about history and good character while they’re being entertained), and (hopefully) the time in that chemical-ly smelling waiting room with the snack machine full of junk my kids will be desperate to buy just because it comes in tiny, colorful packages will fly by.

And since the kids will be watching movies on it, I’m very grateful for its large screen and sturdy construction. At roughly 5 1/2 pounds, Lola feels just solid and weighty enough to withstand my kids’ abuse use but not so large that I feel like I’m lugging around a 6th child.

Of course, I also wanted to see how it would run through its paces fulfilling my everyday computing needs. I’m not a very technical person, so this won’t be a technical review—just my reaction to how easy/convenient it was to accomplish my daily tasks like blogging, reading blogs, editing pictures, browsing to educational sites for my kids, etc.

And, after doing all of those things on this laptop (including writing this review on it), I’m happy to report that Lola met or exceeded all of my expectations in all areas except one (see below).

The keyboard, while a bit on the noisy side (think a low-level “clackity-clack” as you type), is quick and responsive to the touch. Most importantly, it’s not overly sensitive, which is a problem I’ve encountered with some models and which kind of breaks me out in hives. There’s little I like less than feeling like my laptop’s keyboard is typing things that I didn’t, just because my finger got too near a key.

The mouse is the same—quick to respond when I swipe my finger across it, but not jumpy or erratic.

The battery life is as described (“up to 4 hours”), but I can’t comment yet on how long that will be the case.

The colors on the screen are less saturated than I’m used to but still seem accurate. For example, after I edited the following collage in Picmonkey and hit publish, I viewed it on my other laptop screen and phone and the colors looked completely natural and expected.

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{did you notice that sneaky little change I made to the center pic? more on that tomorrow}

Lola comes with Windows 8, which I find is an acquired taste (some people don’t care for it much; some love it), but I was already used to how it worked from my other laptop and found it just as easy to navigate with only a mouse (after having used it with a touch-screen).

After typing this post in Windows Live Writer, I was really happy with the speed for formatting everything but pictures, which is where I hit my only real snag. There was a delay after each picture insertion, but I honestly don’t know if that’s a fluke or just how this computer responds to processing images.

Ultimately, even though I haven’t even fully explored all of Lola’s options, I’m thrilled to have an option for portable entertainment and a larger screen. And I’m really pleased with how she “handles.” I’m a pretty simple girl when it comes to technology, and my requirements for computers require that they accommodate that simplicity by being easy to use.

Lola is.

So, as Staples would say (and my kids, who love pushing this button 459 times a day, would agree), “that was…”

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And now I do believe it’s time to get a MOVE ON!

P.S. I think I’ll be taking Lola with me to Dallas this weekend as I present a breakout session on DIY blogging at The Declare Conference. I’m told that there are still some last-minute slots (as in 16 hours left!) available if you’d like to join us! (And, yes, that is one of the main reasons that this week could be described as “frantic”).

 

 

 

 

 

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Move-it Monday: Wedding Success

I thought about waiting until Thursday to give you an update on my brother’s wedding and doing a matching 5 Things post to last week’s, but several of you sounded genuinely concerned about my sanity, so I decided not to leave you in suspense and go ahead and spill the beans today.

Well, I survived. I guess you gathered that from the fact that I’m able to blog. But the truth is that I spent Sunday in a straitjacket in a little known institution called Wedding Rehab. I’m still there now, actually, and since I haven’t fully regained control of the trembling in my hands, one of the nurses is having to take this down while I dictate. I can’t imagine the bill for this place is going to be cheap.

Okay, okay, so the truth (were you worried?) is that everything went absolutely fine, and everyone was so nice and helpful that I never felt overwhelmed or freaked out or…anything. I got everything done that needed to get done and didn’t worry about the little details that fell by the wayside (like the shoes that I forgot to put on the twins’ feet, even though I surprised myself by a) remembering to look for them before we left the house, b) finding all 4 of their tiny little selves the first time I looked, and c) actually transporting all of them to the ceremony site and remembering to take them out of the van; so close, but no prize for me on that one).

If you recall, my list went a little something like this:

1) Make the Groom’s Cake:

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Here he is. Gerald, the Groom’s Cake. Clearly, I need some lessons in cake-leveling, as Gerald has some rather unfortunate lumps and a definite leeeeeean. But I was always fully aware that my efforts would neither look nor be professional. My main intent was that he look presentable and taste great. Besides, I knew that there would be a different homemade dessert on each table at the reception, so if no one liked him, they would have their pick of other options.

Apparently, he turned out okay, though, because my cousin Matt declared, upon taking a huge bite that he could barely talk around: “This is the best one here!”

I laughed and said, “I appreciate it, but you can’t possibly know that. How many have you tried?”

To which he replied: “Well, there was the chocolate espresso one and the strawberry thing-a-ma-jig, and then I had some pecan pie and some coconut cake. The Italian creme was pretty good, and the chocolate trifle thing wasn’t bad either…”

At which point, I said: “Okay, okay! I believe you! Thanks!”

2) Then there was the child-dressing.

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This picture, while cute, would kind of seem to imply that I’m incapable of properly positioning clip-on ties. But this is after a good deal of wiggling and picture-taking and most definitely after a successful and surprisingly dignified trek down the aisle, during which Ezra resisted the urge to insist that the other little flower girl besides Della hold his hand (because a 7-year-old dragging a screaming almost-3-year-old down the aisle might not be best), Simon resisted the urge to pick his nose, and Della—well, she succumbed to the urge to be quintessentially Della. And that’s generally a good thing.

My mom actually dressed the boys for me, and then she helped me dress the babies. So the only child I dressed alone was Della.

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Here she is hanging out with her Great-uncle Dixon who was so sweet with her. This picture almost chokes me up a bit since the sight of men being good with kids touches my heart in a very deep place.

P.S. There was no time to curl her hair, but somehow I don’t think anybody noticed. Thanks for all your great suggestions just the same! I will definitely be filing them away for future reference.

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Here’s the proof that we all did end up dressed and (somewhat) in our right minds (this is my side of the family). I can’t help but laugh when I see how much space Shaun, the kids, and I take up.

3. Then there was the bride’s hair and makeup.

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She decided to go with a pretty, romantic half-up look and soft curls, all of which she did herself, which was awesome for me since it relieved the stress of having to recreate the up-do I did for her bridal portraits.

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We were both happy with how her makeup turned out.

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Not that she needs much embellishment, with all of her natural beauty.

As for my other duties—MC-ing the rehearsal dinner ended up being a cinch, since after nervously running through the program and carefully choosing my words, there ended up being almost no time for anything but eating. But that was fine with me. And we did manage to squeeze in the one thing I hoped we would—a blessing that Shaun painstakingly and creatively scripted, complete with props!

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He brought home several options of stand-ins for Shae and Hannah one day, and I immediately chose Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.

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{I wish I had a picture handy of my brother in his former long-haired glory; my choice would have made even more sense}

I would give anything to have had pictures of Shaun’s speech, but I completely forgot to commission a photographer, and I was busy Vanna-Whiting it with the props. Sad face.

Oh, and I was able to breathe easy performing my bridesmaid duties, thanks to this lovely lady:

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Meet Christina—AKA my wedding savior. Even the day before, I wasn’t sure exactly where the twins would be during the ceremony or how we would make it all work since the drive ended up being 2 hours +, and there was no guarantee of a nap or time for me to nurse them or…anything. Christina—an identical twin herself—is the wife of one of the groomsman, and she selflessly volunteered to watch the twins before and during the ceremony. She rocked and played with them, fed and consoled, strolled and changed diapers.

She was Jesus to me that day, and I am so, so grateful for her precious servant’s heart. The day would have been very different (and not in a good way) without her.

OH!

And you’ve probably already figured this out, but God shut the heavens, and not one single drop of rain fell that day in Atlanta, Texas, even though the forecast almost guaranteed it (there were probably some confused weathermen in that area).

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{Can you spot one of my children in this shot?”}

Not only that, but the weather was so mild, and there was an almost constant gentle breeze:

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{This is my mom with my Aunt Patti as they manned (womanned?) the twins’ stroller during the reception; I want to look like them when I’m 60!!}

 

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{I have a hard time believing my carrot cake beat out this beauty. Doesn’t it look delish??}

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The ceremony and reception were full of thoughtful, creative DIY details like homemade ice cream, a DIY “love” sign (made by one of the crazy-talented sis-in-laws), artfully arranged Tyler roses (its claim to fame is the nickname, “Rose Capital of the World), and a wooden pavilion that they built and then draped with tulle and sheer white curtains just for the wedding.

Even better, the ceremony site was the “backyard” of the bride’s home church where she grew up, and her father, the pastor, was the officiant.

To say that everything went off without a hitch wouldn’t be entirely accurate since two people actually did get hitched (i know, i know: groan), but to say that it couldn’t have gone more smoothly—now that’s the truth!

Thank you so much for all your prayers and suggestions. God is so good!

And now, as I survey my messy kitchen and cluttered living room floor, I have only one thing left to say:

It’s time to get a MOVE ON!

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Move-it Monday: Summer Bucket List Progress

This is the first summer in a long while that’s really felt like, well, summer. This season of mama-ing small children is…hard. Exhausting too. Some days, I wake up already so far behind that I wonder if I will only ever catch up when I’m too old to remember what I was trying to accomplish. Babies are crying. I forgot to take milk out to thaw for cereal. It’s a toss-up whether my to-do list or the mound of diapers that I’ll end up changing throughout the day is more massive.

Even so, the pace this summer has been surprisingly, mercifully, life-affirmingly slow.

I don’t know why exactly. Maybe I’m getting better at this whole motherhood gig. Maybe my kids are getting older, and it’s just a little easier to enjoy ourselves when the vast majority of our conversations doesn’t consist of asking questions like, “Are you poopy?” or “Do you want more juice?” (Not that I don’t still do puh-lenty of that too). Maybe it’s a combo deal.

But I know one thing for sure: as ironic as it sounds to say that making a list has helped me to relax…it has. We’ve made checking things off of our Summer Bucket List a priority over other seemingly more substantial tasks, and it’s been so freeing. And fun!

I thought I’d share a peak of our progress so far:

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There are still plenty of check boxes to fill in, but we’re plowing through them with gusto, and, of course, doing lots of activities that didn’t make it on the list.

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There have been picnics and trips to Six Flags (bottom and top left respectively), play-doh making and trips to the dollar theater by myself with all five kids—whew! (bottom middle and second row), silly string wars and slip n’ slide parties (top middle and right), soccer games and dance parties (third row, far right and left) and much, much more.

As evidenced from several of these pictures, Daddy is sometimes right in the thick of action, but more often than not, it’s just me and all five kids traipsing around town, like some sort of miniature, ragtag circus, featuring two of the cutest little blue-eyed twins in existence.

The questions and comments—“Are they all yours?” “Are you done?” “Are those twins?” “Bless your heart. You have your hands full.”—are endless and so repetitive that, when a friend of mine likened our outings to the movie Groundhog Day, I found myself nodding vigorously.

But I don’t really care. And neither do the kids. We’re too busy making memories to care.

Plus, the look on people’s faces when I saw we’re probably not “done” is pretty entertaining.

So…

Bring on the bucket list! And viva Summer!

Have you found that having older kids (hey, 7 is old for me) makes summer more enjoyable?

Does making lists (even the fun kind) help you to focus on the good stuff?

What are you still hoping to squeeze into (or is it out of?) summer? (so sad it’s already so far gone!)

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