Category Archives: I like to tell stories


I don’t know that I was feeling particularly gung-ho about 2018. After the year that was 2017, I was feeling pretty content to take things as they came, instead of constantly feeling like a deadline was looming.

Still, though. I had great hopes to blog more, write more in general, and have more time to be creative with my kids.

And then we got sick.


We don’t get sick like we’ve been sick for the past two weeks. We don’t get sick at all, really.

But the flu this year has been rough, and we can attest to that fact firsthand, sadly.
I know it’s not just our neck of the woods, but Tyler–the closest city of any size to us–is apparently number 1 in the nation for cases of flu (according to Walgreen’s data). Great for the makers of Tamiflu, Elderberry syrup, and Occicilium. Bad for…every last one of the rest of us.

Our first victim (Simon) started heading downhill a little over 2 weeks ago, and that nasty virus systematically worked its way through every last one of us…except sweet Honor. Even as I sit here, typing, sniffing constantly, and trying to ignore my super raw nose and raspy chest, I am still so, so grateful for the mercy of the baby’s not getting sick.

Not that it probably would have knocked him back too much. The littlest ones definitely had the mildest cases, suffering mostly from a day of fever and a few more of general blahness and low energy. Shaun and I didn’t get it for a few days after the first few fell, but once it hit, it knocked us out for a good (actually, scratch that: BAD) 5-6 days, and I’m STILL not well. It’s gone from flu to head + chest cold to sinus infection + chest cold to…just all around mild misery.

I have sipped every Elderberry concoction and slathered and huffed every applicable essential oil. I have swallowed garlic until I created a raw spot in my esophagus and guzzled hot raw honey, lemon, and water. Far from trying to imply that none of them have worked, I firmly believe that I would be in much worse shape without them (I could definitely feel the healing effects as the Lord has hauled me, bit by bit, back out of this sickness hole). But I can’t quite seem to shake the last little bits, so if you think to pray for complete healing, that would be great.


Don’t be fooled. Those are 6-day-old braids, and even that wan smile is a total fake. 

Today kind of marked our official re-entry into the real world. It was a typical Monday for me. And it’s a legit MONDAY. I teach a BODYPUMP class at 5:45 AM, then race home to get myself ready + help the kids finish getting ready for home school co-op (although, they have come SO far since the first couple of weeks we started going when they pretty much could have written the manual for how to wander cluelessly from room to room without getting anything done for 45 straight minutes; they’re actually impressively efficient these days), head to co-op, where my day looks like: teach, grade, grade, eat while grading, teach, teach. THEN, we hauled it to the grocery story and shoveled all of the essentials into a basket, hustled through the line, and made a beeline for dance class. Let me assure you that, at the end of a day like this, nothing thrills my heart more than wedging 3 little girls into tights and leotards and tap shoes. But they love it. So, what can you do? (Try not to stick one of their at-once-dog-paw-esque-while-still-claw-like little feet through the foot of the tights, that’s what #somanyruinedpairs).

There is this unspoken understanding that all good dance moms should stay on the premises until their daughter’s dance class is over, buuuuuutttt…I have 4 males under 12 with me. And ain’t nobody need me bringing them to hang out in the hallway for 45 minutes. So, I always thumb my nose at good dance mom protocol and run errands instead. Usually, it’s the grocery store at lightning speeds, but since we’d already accomplished that particular feat today, we headed to Goodwill where I rarely (sadly) go anymore but which I still love to hit up for a blitz session every now and then (I came away with good clothes for the boys, including GAP jeans that are actually long enough for my older boys’ constantly growing limbs {for now} + the world’s cutest lion costume for Honor…just because).

If you’re wondering what one feeds 7 children at the end of such a day, the answer is usually something that I’ve prepped on Sunday afternoon. But not today. Today, we went the super classy route of not one but 2 bags o’ burgers from Braum’s (10 burgers, $10, BABY…and not one ounce of real meat among them, I’m sure #meforpresident).

ANYWAY, I have digressed rather impressively by indulging in a play-by-play of our Monday, but I do get asked regularly what a day-in-the-life looks for us, so there’s a typical Monday. Yes, they are all that busy. Yes, I dread them with every fiber of my being. But then, they’re happening, and it’s fine.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, we did manage to achieve a few milestones, intentional or not, during our own personal Flu-mageddon.

1. It snowed. Obviously, that would be one of the ones we can’t take credit for. It very rarely snows in East Texas (maybe 5 times, briefly, in the last 10 years), and this was no exception, since this is all we ever got…

…and it only stayed that way for about 24 hours. But it was still fun to distract ourselves from our coughs and bedraggled, snotty existences to spend 30 minutes donning “snow gear” (sad little instantly drenched Dollar Store gloves + scarves + hats) only to come running back inside after 15 minutes.

2. I introduced the girls to Pride and Prejudice (the BBC/A&E version, thankyouverymuch), and they LOVED it. That one I take full credit for. Although, I probably would have delayed their induction into Jane Austen hall of fame if not for the fact that all any of us wanted to do was lie on the floor and moan.


In which we finally got some sun, and Honor showed his appreciation for our constant supply of Kleenex

3. Honor turned 1. And looked incredibly cute doing it. (But then, he generally does…I’ll have to snap a picture of him in his lion suit for you guys).

He is a CONSTANT source of joy and stress relief in our house. We are all legit obsessed with him, and he doesn’t seem to mind a smidge.

His first word? (at 8 1/2 months, no less?) “STAHP.” And yes, he uses it both appropriately and liberally. He’s also standing, and Shaun tricked him into taking what miiiiiight be construed as his first step before leaving on a work trip (so that he wouldn’t do it while Shaun was gone, obviously), so he’s practically walking. Ha.

And now, you may consider yourself sufficiently bored to death caught up on our lives.

As always, if you’re interested in the day-by-day play-by-play, you need to be hooked up with my Instagram page, where I find it much easier to bang out a post and throw up a pic than I do to vomit up a behemoth of a 1,500 word post (as I am so wont to do when I actually blog these days…

What about you guys? Any flu (or otherwise) stories to tell?

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

A Clothing Confession + a Tile Tight Spot

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

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

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

First up, a confession:

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

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

But wait. That’s not the confession.

Here goes: I bought two things for me too.

**hangs head in shame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, into my basket it went.

master tile

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

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

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

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

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

I love it!

Except…and it’s a really big except.

But first a little background…

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

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

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

tiled kitchen

and downstairs bath…

downstairs bath tile

That was fun!

Not as fun?


master tile1

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

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

master tile2

{See the lines?}

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

master tile3

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

Another problem?

We ran out of tile.


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

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

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

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

So, we ended up one row short.

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

Double doh.

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

master tile2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might have!

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