Friday, April 20, 2018

No.111: Our Farmhouse Schoolhouse in Photos (Week 31)

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I have major spring fever (already!) and you can tell with the lack of school posts lately.  I think I'm ready for the break more than the kids are!  At almost 17 months, the "baby" is definitely a toddler now and is such a distraction: climbing on the school table, whining constantly for me to hold him, or destroying everything he can reach.  He's exhausting!  Just five more weeks to go... I think I can, I think I can... 


+ We added The Blue Fairy Book to our morning basket and I'm surprised at how much my older boys enjoy the stories.  Favorite so far: Jack the Giant-Killer.

+ M (5th grade) started his Edison unit in science.  He's reading A Story of Thomas Alva Edison and then keeping a journal, writing as if he were Thomas himself.  It has been a nice way to change up his narrations.  I love seeing his creativity.

+ TJ (age 3) is suddenly fascinated by dinosaurs.  A few of his favorite things right now:
+ We have a nest on our front porch fan and just discovered four little white eggs inside.  After a little research, we think they are from an Eastern Phoebe.  We signed up with Nest Watch (a free program with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology) and will be recording our data to help their scientists.  The perfect spring nature study, just two steps from home.

+ Last week, we watched a few episodes of "Chasing Monsters" on Netflix, including one episode where the Bear Grylls/Crocodile Hunter-like host got bacteria samples from the teeth of live sharks to help with shark bite antibiotic research.  It was so random, but also really interesting.  And in some strange way, it tied back to our science bacteria study from a few weeks ago. 

+ We're starting to wrap up our African Geography Studies for the year - just three weeks left!  This week we went to Zambia and read Beautiful Blackbird.


+ Health: Running again!  I'm starting slow, just a couple of miles at a time, but it feels good to be back and pain-free.
+ Reading: A random library pick called Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook.  It's not something I generally read and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.  It has really great reviews though, so we'll see.
+ Fun: I'm in a bit of a creative slump right now.  I need to brainstorm to get that spark back!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

No.110: Our Extraordinary Ordinary Life // April 2018 Edition

A monthly project featuring ten photos throughout the day that show a peek into our extraordinarily ordinary life.

Highlights from Wednesday, April 18, 2018:
  • I was awake at 6:00, but stayed in my warm bed for a good 15 minutes before officially starting the day.  It was cold!
  • The gutter cleaning guys were supposed to come tomorrow, but showed up bright and early today and caught me in a hot mess of an outfit: black leggings, brown socks, an oversized shirt and a navy blue sweater.  My pride is officially gone.
  • I took yesterday off from laundry (such a rebel), but made up for it with four loads today. 
  • I baked a loaf of honey wheat bread for lunch.  We ate it with ham and white cheddar cheese.  Simple and delicious.
  • We spent three hours outside in the sunshine.  The little kids dug in the dirt and the big kids learned how to make different types of knots.  I paced the driveway, drank my afternoon cup of coffee and read my book.
  • P took a morning and afternoon nap and his whiny "I want to be held always" mood changed drastically for the better.  A miracle!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

No.109: What Makes You Feel Alive? A Health Manifesto

I lost myself a bit this winter, but I'm determined to bring her back.

It all started in January when I injured a muscle in my hip.  Unable to run, I wallowed, comforting myself in winter hibernation.  Cozy afternoons reading, curled up under blankets in front of the fire, became my new normal.  At the same time, my fertility struggled to return and my hormones were in chaos.  The scale, for lots of reasons, crept up and up and up.

And then...spring arrived.  There's nothing like temperatures in the 70's, when the bulky sweaters are shed and you have to stare that unfamiliar body in the face.  I looked in the full-length mirror at myself - looking tired and sorta flabby - and wondered, Where did I go?  What happened to me?

It's more than just the number on the scale.  It's the slow burn of aging, the way my body doesn't work in the way I think it should.  It's the wear and tear of six consecutive pregnancies without a significant break between them.  It's the nagging feeling that while I'm happy with so many things in my life, there's one little piece that doesn't feel quite right.

In the quiet, the thought came to me like a whisper: What makes you feel alive?  And without any hesitation, I knew the answer.

Running makes me feel alive.

So last week, I tied on my sneakers and got on the treadmill for the first time in three months.  I started at barely a jog, feeling every step.  I was clunky and slow.  My running shorts were just a wee too snug.  More than one part of me jiggled and my lower back ached.  But it felt SO good.  Afterward, big, ugly tears mingled with my shower water.  I felt proud of myself.  I felt strong.  In a rare moment of self-love, I made a manifesto of sorts and am recording it here because I'm sure I'll need the reminder.

Here's to loving ourselves as we are, while having the courage to make positive changes too.


I am more than just the number on the scale.
I will fill myself with lots of good, nutrient-filled food.  And a little of the "not-so-nutritious" is okay too.  It doesn't have to be either/or.
I will focus on movement, in whatever way it materializes.  Preferably a run, but sometimes laps around the yard or dancing in the kitchen.
I will prioritize my mental health.  Sleep comes first and can cure much.  A little time away can do wonders too.  I am not a bad wife or mother for needing both.
I will stay in my lane.  No comparing myself to others who may be further in their goals than I am.  We don't all have to take the same path to get to success.
Perfectionism has no place in my wellness - I will do what I can, when I can.  And that's enough.

taken last October after a long run 
freshly showered, no makeup, wrinkles, happy

Monday, April 16, 2018

No.108: Intentions for the End of April

I took an unintentional, but much needed internet break last week.  It was a week full of family and weekday sleepovers and play dates - so many good things!  Because of all the extras, I had to scrap my never ending to-do list and stick to the essentials.  Sometimes life forces my hand a bit, telling me sternly, "Lady, you need to check yourself.  You can't do it all and that's okay."  I'm always grateful for that reminder to slow down.  Especially when I refuse to do it on my own.


  • Habit of the Month: Thoroughness
  • start running at least three times a week - movement is the goal, not paces or miles
  • try making bulletproof coffee
  • choose a baby gift for my cousin's shower
  • buy a baptism gift for a friend
  • buy tiny hooks 
  • string lights throughout the back porch (100LT #61)
  • do a science experiment with Sophie
  • make dentist appointments
  • print photographs off of old hard drive 
  • finally finish December Daily 2017 album
  • finish another book that I've only partially finished
  • pick a date for a field trip
  • recommit to weaning P - make a plan and stay strong!
  • start dreaming and sketching our garden for next year


If you're reading on your phone or in a reader, be sure to click over to see what I checked off the list!
  • switch car seats around (5 out of 6 were happy about the change, so pretty good odds, hah)
  • take out clothes to spring/summer and pack away winter (half done!)
  • fix the dryer hose
  • start a deep cleaning of the house (I'm using this checklist - thank you for sharing, Jessica!)
  • finalize plans for front walkway and flower beds (the estimate was waaay more than we had budgeted, so we've decided to just do the flower beds for now)
  • string lights throughout the back porch (we need to pick up tiny hooks first)
  • install curtain rods and hang curtains in the dining room
  • make dentist appointments (need to sync with Mark's schedule)
  • print photographs off of old hard drive for my December Daily album
  • mail another batch of postcards (I still have some room left on the list - sign up here!)
    • return to a few half-finished books and finish them (finished In This House of Brede, but then started and finished two new ones...oops!)
    • research safe sunscreens that actually work (trying Bare Republic - thanks for the recommendation, Catherine!)
    • bake a loaf of whole wheat bread
    • make a batch of granola
    • learn how to make baguettes 
    • find a local milk provider (did the research, now to figure out how to budget it!)

    What about you?  What do you hope to accomplish in the next two weeks?

    Tuesday, April 10, 2018

    No.107: New Habits, Little by Little: Homesteading 101 - Make Your Daily Bread (Part Three!)

    I live in a farmhouse on five acres in the country.  It's time for this suburban girl to learn a few things!  
    Welcome to my self-taught Homesteading 101.

    Update on Daily Bread Post #1 and Post #2: I'm still baking bread almost every other day!  The recipes that start in the bread machine and are then put in bread pans to rise seem to be the easiest to fit into busy weekdays.  I keep the more time intensive ones for the weekends.  Maybe I'm at a point where I can stop purchasing bread from the grocery store? 

    Below are three new recipes that I've added to the mix:
    • English Muffin Bread
      • Thanks for the recommendation, Jen!
      • Consensus: This one was really good!  We liked it even more the next day, toasted with jam.  
    • Irish Soda Bread
      • I baked this on St. Patrick's Day for the recommended 45 minutes and while the internal temperature was 190° like the instructions said, the very middle was under-cooked!  Yikes.  I made it again the following week, added 6 more minutes to the cooking time, and it was perfect.
      •  Consensus: Delicious!  Sweet without being too sweet.
    • Honey Wheat Bread
      • This was my first attempt at mixing white and whole wheat flours.  I started the dough in the bread machine and then separated into two bread pans to rise, but it didn't rise nearly enough.  (I'm thinking there's not enough gluten?)  I tried again as just a single loaf and the result was much better.
      • Consensus: A really good sandwich bread!  We ate it with leftover Easter ham and white cheddar cheese.

    Next up: sourdough, french baguettes, and a bread with cheese or herbs mixed in.  Share with me your favorite recipes!  I'm also thinking it's time to start another homesteading skill.  What should I try next?
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