Wednesday, May 25, 2016

{learn goals} What I Learned in April & May

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(1) IT'S OKAY TO TAKE SOME TIME TO COAST.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to live every day to the fullest.  Be on top of things, knock out those to-do lists, live that full and exciting life.  But sometimes that mentality just isn't realistic and I've learned that's it totally okay to let myself off the "seize the day" hook for a little while.  Slow down, enjoy my kids by just being together, remove all the extras and just breathe for awhile.

(2) SOMETIMES SELF CARE MEANS LIGHTENING YOUR LOAD A BIT.
I'm an out of control busybody and I love a full plate.  But due to some physical and emotional health issues, I forced myself to take a step back from many much-loved activities.  I eased up on this blog, passed the torch for #5Faves, worked less on Big White Farmhouse and even stepped back from actively participating in my book club.  I love each of those things SO much and they bring me a lot of joy, but I also knew it would be beneficial to not do all.the.things.  In the process, I gained a lot of head space (my brain not constantly swirling with ideas and tasks), slept better and even had a smaller to-do list.  I hope to reintroduce those activities back into my life, but not at the expense of my health.   

(3) MY SON MAY HAVE A LEARNING DISABILITY, BUT IT CERTAINLY DOESN'T DEFINE HIM.
After months of personal research, we are finally getting him officially assessed for dyslexia and hoping it provides an avenue for extra help.  We have made HUGE strides this year at home, but I can still see doubt and frustration come through when he struggles.  BUT.  We just got his standardized testing scores back (mandatory for homeschoolers in our state) and he scored above average. Above average!  I sobbed and sobbed in thanksgiving that what I know in my heart is true - it may take him longer than others, but he is such a smart little boy.  Now if I can continue to tell him so he starts to believe it too.

(4) I HAVE A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE INTERNET.
This is probably ironic being that I have an online business and love to write this blog.  But sometimes too much is too much.  Too much negativity, too much stimulation....I needed to shut it all off and look at life around me with clear eyes.  I think the reset is so helpful to re-evaluate why/how I use the Internet, rid myself of bad habits (scroll, scroll, scrolling....) and re-prioritize the people/things that may have been pushed aside.  I'm still full of questions: how much is too much sharing when it comes to my kids?  Is this a waste of time?  Do readers doubt my sincerity or think I'm a sell-out based on what I share?  Do I even care?  Is it time to just shut the whole thing down?  No real answers yet, but the struggle is real.        

(5) YOU MAY HAVE SEEN THIS COMING, BUT I SURE DIDN'T.



Remember all those feelings of something being off?  Laugh along with me, friends.  This was a bit of a shock and surprise, but after letting the news sink in a bit, we're happy and excited to add to our crazy crew.  Baby #6 due in December.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

{five favorites} #5Faves is Now Over at The Koala Mom!

Hey there, friends.
There have been a lot of changes happening (with big decisions to make) around here, both with my sweet little family and this Big White Farmhouse blog.  I've been praying earnestly for direction for months and getting crickets in return...or so I thought.  God definitely works in mysterious ways.  I'll probably share some of my family's news, but that's a story for another day.  Today's all about this blog.  

I have been writing in this space for almost five years now and it's seen its share of ebb and flow.  For the past 18 months, I really revved up the frequency, posting at least three times a week.  Truth be told, I've loved it!  This blog has been a journal, a memory keeper and a safe place to grow into myself.  But I'm feeling the nudge to step back a bit.  I think I'll still pop in, but won't be holding myself to any schedule or plan.  I'm not sure if the Big White Farmhouse has run its course, but it's definitely something I'm praying about.    

SO.  I've passed on the baton for the Five Favorites linkup.  It's been a fun six months and I have met so many sweet ladies.  I am so, so thankful for the ones who have returned week after week!  Starting this week, the linkup will be hosted by Bonnie at The Koala Mom.  Be sure to hop on over and say hello!

xo,
Ashley

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

{book report} My Latest Reads // April


As my part of my Learn goals for 2016, I'm reading a variety of styles and genres of books in the attempt to discover new ideas and expand my horizons.  My goal is to read at least 25 this year, of which I'm keeping track on Goodreads.  Are you over there?  Let's connect!

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
I'd characterize this one as pretty light fiction, maybe even chick lit?  It's the story of three generations of midwives, each with their own secret.  The tale is told in alternating voices, but I found it easy enough to follow.  It was a quick read and all the questions are answered and tied up in a pretty bow by the end, which my optimistic heart loved.  I checked some reviews and someone wrote that it felt a bit like a Jerry Springer episode - I got a nice laugh out of that description!

(P.S. Starting in May and continuing through August, The Inspired Readers Book Club is changing things up: we're hosting the Inspired Readers Summer Book List Challenge!  We've picked two books for each month, which you can read at your own pace.  Then check in with the Facebook group when you feel inspired with thoughts or reflections on the books!  We hope this will allow us all to continue to read and stay connected, but in a way that is more manageable during summertime.  We always welcome new members and would love for you to check out what we're reading this summer!  The Secrets of Midwives is one of the choices for May.)

Why Can't We Just Play?: What I Did When I Realized My Kids Were Way Too Busy by Pam Lobley
My original intention for reading this book was reassurance in my unpopular parenting choices.  We live in an area where kids are involved in multiple extra-curricular activities, participate in competitive sports by age 6, and the pressure to "keep up" is unreal.  So I figured this memoir, written by a mother intent to recreate a summer like the 1950s, would be right up my alley.  Little did I know how much this book would affect me and in ways I didn't expect.  

This paragraph from the last chapter sums it up: "This is the message of the 1950s: their low expectations.  Or rather, their reasonable expectations.  We demand so much more of our family life - our family experience - than previous generations did.  And it saddles all of us with an unachievable burden.  If you're looking for the main difference between childhood in the 1950s and now, it is that children were freer then.  Free to imagine, free to be bored, free to fail, free to be average."  You know me and my unreasonable expectations for my life.  The "permission" to unburden myself from the demands of our city and (more importantly) my perfectionist, overachieving tendencies...let's just say it was a reminder I really needed.  It's okay not to carry the weight of every.single.thing. 
(I received this book from Familius, but all opinions are mine.)  


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My Reading in Numbers

Books Read this Month: 2
Total Books Read this Year: 11
Books Read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Challenge: 4
A book published this year
A book you've been meaning to read
A book chosen for me by my spouse
A book you can finish in a day

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

{five favorites} Vol.21: YOUR Favorites & A Small Break

Welcome to the Five Favorites linkup!
I am taking a small blogging break for the rest of April, but feel free to add your posts here.  The linkup will stay open until the end of the month.  Looking forward to catching up with you in May!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

{five favorites} Vol.20: Our Top Five Favorites for Backyard Bird Watching


Welcome to the Five Favorites linkup!
A reminder about a new twist I'm adding to the linkup this year: At the end of each month, I'll be giving away a prize pack to one #5Faves participant!  Here's how it works: every time you link up a blog post, it counts as one entry.  So if you link up a post every week, you'd get four entries.  I'll keep track throughout the month and then randomly pick a winner on May 1.  

First, let's congratulate Heather for winning March's #5Faves Prize Pack!  
The winning post: Kiddie Book Club Vol.1

On to this week's favorites:

Call me an old lady, but I love bird watching.  (I like puzzles too, so definitely pushing 80 over here.)  My love has even rubbed off on my kids!  Here are five of our favorite things we use around here:  

Homemade Milk Jug Bird Feeder // M made one in his co-op science class (using a method similar to this post) and we hung it from our front yard tree.  The smaller opening has attracted many little bitty birds, like finches and sparrows.  I think they find it safer than trying to fight with the larger birds.  

Acrylic Window Bird Feeder // We have this feeder hanging from one of our living room windows, which has been perfect for observing throughout the day.  In the past month alone, we probably have seen at least 15 different types of birds!  It's been fun to watch how each interacts: the "scare-dy bird" who backs into the feeder before it eats, the big mourning doves who think they own the place and scare the others away, the little finches who come in pairs with one always on the lookout.  Always something interesting.  

Backyard Birdseed Mix // We use this birdseed mix and because of the variety of birds we've seen at the feeders, I would highly recommend it!  

Birds of North America Guide Book // We have this old one, but I have about five others on my wishlist!  Ours is simple enough for the kids to look through without being too overwhelming and we keep it handy in our living room book basket.   

Backyard Bird Identifier // If our bird book proves unhelpful, this website from National Geographic is really great to help figure out a bird's species.  

*This post contains affiliate links - thank you so much for supporting the Big White Farmhouse!*

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I'd love to hear about five of your favorite things too!


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