Friday, July 31, 2015

{around here} Week 30/52: Week of 7.27.15

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.  At the end of the year, I'll publish them into a keepsake to treasure.

Around here, I have been:

watching TJ get into all.the.things.  He is everywhere and making all the messes!    

ordering Focus T25 (through my blog friend, Katie - she's a Beachbody coach) and hoping it will help me out of my exercise rut.  A combination of things have made it hard to do my usual: too hot outside, impatient baby, husband working unpredictable hours.  I'm so ready to finally get this sad, postpartum body back in gear.  I've got 10ish pounds still to lose!

reading Everything I Never Told You (I can't put it down!) and Better Than Before.

starting on a holiday prep plan for Big White Farmhouse: what to buy, what supplies to stock up on, etc.  It's overwhelming and exciting all bundled together.

thinking about returning to regular school days in two weeks, maybe?  We've been out since mid-May and I think it's time.  The kids have been actually asking to do math and history!

planning to finally paint my office this weekend, the first project on my to-do list.

watching American Pickers as I multi-task and work on the computer at night.  That show both fascinates me and puts me to sleep.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

{book club} The Inspired Readers Book Club: Book Two

The Inspired Readers Book Club, which I started with my blog friends Tabitha and Shelly, has just wrapped up discussion for our first book, Make it Happen.  For the past two months, we have "met" in our Facebook group to talk about dreams, fear and intentional living.  The community of women is diverse and everyone has had something to bring to the table.  Even though I led the discussion, I really have learned so much.

For the month of August, Tabitha is taking the reins and we're reading a novel this time!  She chose Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, which is a family-centered mystery that is getting great reviews.  I just started the book yesterday and it's a page turner already!

Our reading schedule will be as follows:
Week 1 (August 3):  Chapters 1-3
Week 2 (August 10): Chapters 4-6
Week 3 (August 17): Chapters 7-9
Week 4 (August 24): Chapter 10-12

Like before, we'll have discussion questions posted on Monday, so feel free to jump into the conversation whenever you have time.  We are always open to new members and would love to see you in the Facebook group!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

{learning} From the Book Basket: Week 02

Week Two.  While I still read stories throughout the day (at the kids' request), we are now getting into the routine of reading a story together before heading up to bed.  We all squeeze in together on the couch and I use my very best voices.  

**links are affiliate - thank you for supporting the Big White Farmhouse!**

Monday, July 27, 2015

{around here} What Would a Calm, Thriving Life Look Like?

I'd been struggling for weeks.  I would start the day strong, but without fail, the cloud would envelope me by day's end.  I felt frustrated, unsettled and generally overwhelmed with life.   As someone who chose "thrive" as her word for 2015, I couldn't get past the thought that I was living a life so far from that goal.  The failure felt debilitating.

Sunday rolled around and we enjoyed a relatively painless Mass with the kids.  Mark, who can sometimes read me better than I read myself, suggested a two-fold surprise: I would drop him and the four oldest at the movies (which is usually a twice a year event in our house because...$$$) and I could take TJ for two hours of leisurely browsing at Target.  

Mark saw what I desperately needed and pushed me in that direction.  And let me tell you: those two hours alone were a game changer for me.  As I strolled aisle to aisle, picking up unexciting items like paper towels and crayons, I found myself calming down.  With my baby asleep in the stroller, my mind turned over and over the question: "What would a calm, thriving life look like?"

Feeling inspired, I bought myself an inexpensive pink spiral notebook from the school supply section. TJ and I went drove over to the movie theater and while he enjoyed a snack of puffs, I started writing.  It was like the floodgates had opened.  The answers came even faster than I could write.  By the time Mark and the kids returned to the van, I felt more like myself and ready to tackle my life in order to get closer to that goal.  Who knew two hours in Target would give me so much clarity?  

I've added my bullet list below. 

What does a calm, thriving life look like?

  • A strong marriage - Mark and I on the same page
  • Kids who generally get along and really play and use their energy
  • Significantly less screen time for everyone
  • Less clutter and more respect for what we already have
  • Spending money wisely and living within (or below) our means
  • Work that is meaningful and fires us up vs. drags us down
  • Prioritizing family and time together
  • Being outdoors, exercising, being active
  • Prioritizing learning, discovering, curiosity
  • Time for me to recharge with alone time
  • Using our individual gifts (What is my gift?)
  • Prioritizing experiences, not "stuff"
  • Creating a welcoming home to open to others
  • Having a firm commitment to growing in holiness  

I still don't have all of the answers, but this is a step in the right direction.  What would a calm, thriving life look like to you?

Friday, July 24, 2015

{around here} Week 29/52: Week of 7.20.15

 A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.  At the end of the year, I'll publish them into a keepsake to treasure.

Around here, I have been:

flying solo as Mark has been gone on a business trip for an entire week.  I was nervous about handling five kids on my own, but am happy to say that the week has gone better than I expected!  We kept our days full of fun things, made lots of crafts, watched a few new movies and even survived Mass on Sunday!  

eating tomatoes pulled fresh from "the garden" (not sure you can call my two containers a garden, but I'm going with it).  Does this excitement ever get old?  We look forward to watering them every morning and seeing what has ripened the night before.

reading Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

loving J's help in the kitchen as he unloads the dishwasher for me.  He can't reach the upper cabinets so instead makes sculpture-like creations on the counter with all of our dishes and glassware.  Hilarious and a little nerve-wracking, but nothing broken yet!

feeling honored to be a contributor for a beautiful new community: Nourish Motherhood.  I wrote "Running Makes Me a Better Mom" and can't wait to create another article for them soon!

purging my closet on a whim.  I'm still very much in the "getting back to normal" phase of post-pregnancy and looking in my closet always leaves me frustrated.  So like a mad woman on a mission, I took every single item out and started over.  All the smallest sized items I've been holding onto for about seven years?  Gone.  All those clothes I've been keeping because I'm just not sure?  Gone.  I even went so far as to box up all of the clothing one size down from what I currently am.  If and when I reach that goal, I'll return them to their hangers.  But for now, I am relieved to go into my closet and only see things that I know will fit and I feel comfortable in.

baking all things peach.  We had a case to use up this week, so Pinterest has been in heavy use as we found recipes that matched with ingredients we had in the house.  

visiting family on a quick overnight trip.  The kids loved swimming in the pool and I laughed until I cried with my parents and my siblings.  So thankful for them.

celebrating a successful Summer Sale for Big White Farmhouse.  We also had a successful giveaway on our Instagram account.  Now to gear up and start preparing for fall and Christmas!  
(P.S. In case you're interested, our sale ends tonight at midnight!  Save 20% on the entire shop with the coupon code: SUMMERSALE20)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

{learning} From the Book Basket: Week 01

This new series was inspired by a beautiful article in the latest Soul Gardening Journal.  (Do you subscribe?  If not, I highly recommend it!)  "Time for a Story" was a challenge to mothers to really put an effort into reading to our children.  Instead of just rushing through a book to get it over with (of which I am plenty guilty), maybe we can use that time to slow down and enjoy that moment together instead? 

I loved this part:
"By making the time, MAKING THE TIME, to read properly, deliberately and slowly with our children, we aren't just raising their IQs or making them love books or spending quality time with them...important as these things are.  We are instilling an entire foundation of what is good and noble and worthwhile in our children's hearts.  Those things don't just "happen."  We have to intentionally make space for beauty; cultivate it.  We treat it with reverence and respect.  And if we do so, we can fully expect to contribute to what Dostoevsky prophesied years ago when he said that 'Beauty will save the world.'"  
Every Wednesday, we'll share the seven books we read the week before.  Some new, some old favorites and you may see repeats along the way.  We hope you'll share with us your favorites too!

**links are affiliate - thank you for supporting the Big White Farmhouse!**

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

{BWF} Making Space for Big White Farmhouse: the Plan

Guys, it's happening.  Slow and steady, Big White Farmhouse is growing.  Like itty bitty, squint your eyes and tilt your head to the side growing.  But growing!  So far in year two, we have acquired more product, reached more potential customers and even received a few sales from people we don't know!  (Insert this hilarious commercial.)  With all of my business headed in the right direction, I think it's time to create an office.

We are fortunate to have the space in our home to designate a room just for BWF.  It will take awhile to purchase all the pieces I want, but I'll be saving my pennies!  In the meantime, I'm making plans.  When I think of my office, I envision a clean, functional space that provides me with the room I need to both package orders and work on my laptop.  I'd like to have my products visible and accessible, a mini brick and mortar store if you will, as well as hidden storage for the less pretty things: packaging supplies, papergoods, etc.  

After a quick Google search, I found and used a free online room planner to take the ideas out of my head and into physical form.  This was SO fun.  I was somewhat limited by the choices provided by the software, but you can definitely get the gist:   

My Big White Farmhouse office to-do list:

  • Paint (I'm thinking a very light grey with undertones of blue)
  • Purchase two or three white cabinets: shelves on top, hidden storage on bottom
  • Install bamboo roman shades to the two windows
  • Purchase (or work with lumber we currently own) a large workspace/desk
  • Lighting with either a table or floor lamp
  • Comfortable desk chair
  • Hang bulletin board
  • Print and frame big vintage picture of the real big white farmhouse
  • Create a distressed wooden sign (maybe something like this?)

Monday, July 20, 2015

{health} What Self Care Looks Like for Me Right Now

This post was inspired by a recent one from Modern Mrs. Darcy.

I feel like I could sum up this summer in one word: introspection.  I've been in my head a lot, turning things over and over, trying to learn more about myself and how I work.  My "one little word" for 2015 is thrive and it's been a difficult one for me.  In previous years, with words like intention and brave, I was able to baby-step into that realm with relative success.  But thrive?  Most days, I feel like it's a standard that's impossible to achieve.  Does it have to be, though?  I'm not sure.

Like everything, it's a process.  And step one was the realization that I need to take better care of whole self.  I need to see what helps and what hinders me in my best efforts to be a wife, mother, teacher, and business owner.  I know I won't be thriving at much of anything without this necessary step.  So here is what self care looks like for me right now:    

Self care looks like planning my day the night before.  I bring my planner with me to bed and jot down the items that are rattling around in my head: vacuum the stairs, send that e-mail, bake something with those peaches before they go bad, etc.  My sleep has greatly improved and I wake feeling less frazzled.  I'm ready to face the day with a plan of attack.

Self care looks like making the effort to add more prayer to my day.  For whatever reason, with the general chaos of my days, praying seems like the first thing to go and I'd like that to change.  Instead of frantic pleas for help (which still happen often!), I'd like to have more mindful prayers too.  Starting small with the morning offering first thing when I wake up.

Self care looks like daily quiet time in the afternoons: I send the kids down to play in the basement or everyone finds a comfy place to read or draw.  Some days, I'll even put on a long movie!  Regardless of what they do, I need and appreciate the 15-30 minutes I get all to myself.

Self care looks like fitting in time everyday for something that fills me up: exercise, cross-stitch, reading a good book.  The choice and duration are less important than the act itself.

Self care looks like watching what I eat, but not stressing over every calorie and carb.  It's so hard, but I'm giving myself the grace to enjoy every sip of that special Chick-Fil-A milkshake without worrying about how long it will take to burn it off.  Also hard, but I'm trying not to stress about how much pregnancy weight I'd still like to lose and just appreciate myself right here today.

Self care looks like wearing my Fitbit again, but challenging myself to add more movement to my day with the kids.  We play Follow the Leader (walk like a mummy...act like a ninja...hop like a bunny) around the house and it feels good to get us all moving and our hearts pumping...and it's fun!

Self care looks like learning more about myself and how I am wired.  I have been made this way for a reason.  I thrive on structure, to-do lists and finishing everything from big projects to the last piece of bread in the bag.  I am most inspired in the morning, prefer to window shop and love simplicity.  I used to feel the need to adapt "to be like everybody else" as I grow older, I'm trying to be content with who God created me to be.

Self care looks like allowing myself the ability to dream about Big White Farmhouse and where I'd like to take it down the road.  Dreams will continue to be dreams without action, so I'm following up with as many itty bitty baby steps as I can.  At this time in my life, I am unable to devote full-time hours, but every little bit helps.

Self care looks like practicing active gratitude: including thanks in my prayers, writing them down, and recalling that everything is a gift.  I'm also "looking out" and thanking those around me for their influence and support in my life.

Self care looks like watching the birds outside in complete childlike awe and delight.  Despite so much ugliness in the world, beauty still remains if we take the time to search for it.

Other great posts about Self Care:
5 Self Care Tips for Moms
Self Care for Highly Sensitive Moms
5 Reasons Mamas Don't Take Care of Themselves
5 Ways to Make your Mornings Meaningful

What does self care look like for you right now?

Friday, July 17, 2015

{around here} Week 28/52: Week of 7.13.15

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.  At the end of the year, I'll publish them into a keepsake to treasure.

Around here, I have been:

searching for light.  Being aware of it throughout the day, how it illuminates different rooms, how it washes over my dining room table in the early morning.  I've been trying to "catch" it on camera and it's amazing how much joy that simple act has brought me this week.  I'm sure there's a deeper symbolism here too.

making an effort to reduce unnecessary screen time.  Less blog posts and social media interaction; more dreaming, planning and creating.  It was needed and I'm feeling the most refreshed I've been in a long time!  In the weeks to come, I'm sure it will ebb and flow, but I think this type of break is necessary to keep me focused.  

reading bits of different books all at once.  I finished Make it Happen in preparation for our book club's last week of discussion.  I've also been switching off between Better than Before and Beyond the Birds and the Bees.

baking batches of blueberry and peach cobbler and bread in the bread machine.

stitching Sophie's princesses.  This week, I worked on Anna and Elsa.  Can you guess the song that was stuck in my head the entire time? (Finally linking up again with Erica's Summer Stitching Stash Blast!)

planning language arts for M next year.  He is a very strong reader and no program seemed like the right fit, so I'm creating my own!  He'll be reading a mix of "easier" books that I just don't want him to miss and others more at his reading level.  I think he'll like it and learn a lot.

trying graze, a snacking subscription box.  Everything in my box was delicious and I'm going to stay signed up to receive it twice a month.  It seems a bit silly, but I'm excited to receive something in the mail that is just for sharing!  (P.S. If you're interested, you can use my referral link to get your first and fifth box for free!  Let me know what you get in your box!)

Monday, July 13, 2015

{link list} Best of the Web Vol.02

  • Truth from Jim Gaffigan: "Big families are like waterbed stores; they used to be everywhere, and now they're just weird."
  • 240 mornings: "On average there are 260 weekdays a year, counting holidays and vacations. If you take away those, you’re left with 240 mornings to get things done. 240 mornings to do your most important tasks. That is only 20 large, creative tasks a month."
  • Forever Notes Highlight Journal: "The Forever Notes Journal is a family journal designed for the modern mother, the mother that wants to capture memories and keepsake children’s artwork, but doesn’t have the time to manage multiple journals, baby books, and art boxes."
  • 6 Things the Happiest Families All Have in Common: "Research shows whether a kid knows their family history was the number one predictor of a child's emotional well-being."
  • The 7 Rules of Compliment Club: "First rule of Compliment Club (yes… we can talk about Compliment Club): Look for the positive in other people.  This is imperative.  You can’t offer a sincere compliment if you aren’t looking for the beauty in the people around you."  

Friday, July 10, 2015

{around here} Week 27/52: Week of 7.6.15

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.  At the end of the year, I'll publish them into a keepsake to treasure.

Around here, I have been:

feeling out of sorts this week.  I've been over-tired, over-stimulated, lacking patience...not all weeks are good ones and this one was mediocre at best.  TJ is teething again and I know the lack of sleep combined with a baby constantly on my person hasn't helped things either.  We also had another costly home repair which always hurts.  I've been trying to combat all the negative feelings with worked a little.  At the end of the day, I always remember what Alexander said: some days/weeks/months are like that.  
praying a novena to Louis and Zelie Martin for the continued strengthening of my marriage and for direction as we dream big dreams.

reading the last big section of Make it Happen for the Inspired Readers Book Club and getting motivated.  The two chapters we are working through this week are about self-reflection (what's working and what's not) and sorting through the unneeded "stuff" (in our connectivity, our comparison, and our clutter).  Thought provoking.    

working on reducing the clutter in my life (see above).  Visual clutter is a big trigger for me when it comes to feeling overwhelmed, so I tried to be proactive this week and do something about it.  A few of the areas I worked on: I spent 10 minutes unsubscribing from as many email lists as I could, keeping only my absolute favorite stores and websites.  I filtered through and organized my favorite blogs in Bloglovin, opted out of receiving credit card offers in the mail and also started going through the kids' clothes again.  My donation pile is growing and it feels good.

listening to the sweetest conversation between D and Sophie: "You look pretty, Sophie." "Ten chu, D.  You look handsome."

researching marketing ideas for Big White Farmhouse.  I won't have a steady customer base until they know our name, so I'm hunting down cheap ways to spread the word.  Marketing is not my strength and it's pushing me out of my comfort zone.  Other shop news: we added geometric ceramic cereal bowls in three summer colors...the robin's egg blue is my favorite.  

crossing off a big one on my goal list for July: I wrote the first nine weeks of lesson plans!  It may have literally taken me hours to complete (so many little people needing my attention!), but I'm happy to see it done.  Right now, I'm planning to officially start the school year mid-August.    

reading stories to the kids from We Give Books.  I'm also loving these lists from All About Learning Press and am already making a library list, starting with "Fairy Tales with a Twist".  

discovering that our tomato plant is suffering from blossom end rot due to a calcium deficiency.  No wonder our ripe tomatoes were all rotten on the bottom!  I did some research and will be trying a "lime slurry" this weekend. 

laughing at Sophie's latest: "hey doc!" (what's up doc?).  Other favorites are "clop clops" (flip flops), "gun-gun-gola" (yogurt and granola) and she also calls my Fitbit a "shitbit", which cracks me up too.
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