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.)  


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!*


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

Monday, April 4, 2016

{learn goals} What I Learned in March


Holy moly, have I been through the ringer this month.  Up and down and all around.  It's been strangely comforting to know, though, that mamas have been here before and made it out okay.  

Mark and I have been watching the Beloved: The Mystery and Meaning of Marriage video series on Formed.  I'm pretty sure the series is meant for engaged couples or newlyweds, but I really appreciated the reminder of what a special sacrament marriage is.  So thankful I get to go through life with Mark.   

Duh.  Since I've been feeling a bit fragile, I've been trying to know my triggers and too much stuff is a big one.  To combat that, I've been simplifying the areas where I spend the most time, having frequent 5-minute pickups, and keeping the kids accountable for putting their things away.    

After watching the Cooked series on Netflix a few weeks ago, Mark and I have been inspired to try replacing almost all of our processed foods with our own homemade version.  It has quickly become one of the most rewarding ideas we've come up with, but also one of the hardest!  Too lazy to bake bread?  No bread for lunch!  I'm learning so much and it's been a fun adventure to experience with my husband (a WAY better cook than I am!) too.

Cooking 100% from scratch obviously means more work, which hypothetically could be so overwhelming to me that I'd just quit.  Thank goodness for Mark!  We've been making a menu together on Friday night and then splitting up the dinner duties throughout the week.  I've cracked the meal planning code!   

A lot of food lessons this month!  I've been taking a Mexican street food class on Craftsy and am enjoying practicing what I've learned.  My favorite so far is the Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, which Mark has declared one of his favorite salsas ever!

My latest Great Courses Plus class is called How to Grow Anything: Container Gardening Tips & Techniques.  It's been a very informative class, but yikes!  SO many names - my mind was spinning as she rattled off at least 20 different types of flowers and plants.  I think I'll be wandering the garden center looking a bit lost, haah!  One of the best tips I learned was the "thriller, filler and spiller" technique and I'm anxious to try it out on our front steps this spring.

We may only have a postage stamp of a yard, but that hasn't stopped us from watching dozens of birds and even a cottontail rabbit!  Sometimes I get so frustrated that we don't have acres and acres of land, but there's still much to enjoy if we take the time to notice. 

Love, love, love.  And what a surprise that is to me!  Big White Farmhouse unearthed a passion I didn't know existed and while it's a TON of work, I love every minute.  

Her wise words this time? "Run around, go to church, eat a cookie and feel better."

Friday, April 1, 2016

{around here} Week 13/52: Week of 3.28.16

A collection of our ordinary days, recorded every week.

Around here, I have been:

feeling... off.  And to be honest, I think I've felt like this for at least two weeks now.  I'm no stranger to bouts of the blues, but I really couldn't pinpoint the source, until lightbulb moment - TJ stopped nursing.  For almost 10 years now, I have nursed my babies until pregnant with the next one...repeat repeat repeat.  This is the first time in 10 years that my body is my own - and holy cow, do I feel like my insides are wreaking havoc!  I did some research about depression after weaning (not that I think I am depressed, more like something just doesn't feel right) and while there isn't much available, a lot of what I did find holds true for me: fatigue, general sadness, moodiness, etc.  It's helpful to know that this is normal and I'm hoping that being extra gentle with myself will help me ride it out.  Below are a few articles and blog posts that I found, in case you ever feel like you're in the same boat:

working away on Big White Farmhouse.  With all the other yuck going on in my head, I'm so thankful for the excitement this little business brings me.  I have big, big dreams.

reading The Secrets of Midwives.

watching the kids and how much they played with our old wooden blocks this week.  So many of the "flashier" toys get tossed aside so quickly, but they always seem to come back to the blocks.  

preparing for the start of soccer season!  M is returning for his eighth season and J is starting his very first!  He is too cute, practicing in the yard with his new cleats and soccer ball.  I can't wait to see both of them play this spring.

debating new hair styles.  For two years, I've been growing my hair out in order to donate (#1 on my 100 Little Things list!) and this weekend is the big chop!  I'm excited and so ready for the change.  I'm sure it will literally feel like a weight has been lifted. 
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