Monday, January 29, 2018

No.77: Five January Favorites (A Link-Up and a Giveaway!)

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Welcome to the Five Favorites linkup!  New for 2018 - I'm bringing back the monthly prize pack!  (See all the details below.)

1 //  LIGHT & EASY CHICKEN SALAD
Somehow last fall, I adopted a lot of poor eating habits.  Lots of grazing and eating random things at random times.  So when January 1st arrived, I set out to make some changes and the biggest one being my lunch.  I've been making this chicken salad and it's delicious - and this is coming from someone who wasn't sure she really liked chicken salad!  I like it open-faced on a piece of bread (even better if it's homemade), but I've also eaten it with Ritz crackers or even just in a bowl by itself.  One batch lasts me almost the entire week.

2 // NAOMI'S MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
Naomi's blog is all about slow living, creativity and snail mail.  I subscribe to her newsletter and honestly, it's one of the best ones I've read.  Her monthly e-mails include free envelope templates that she draws and designs (so gorgeous!) as well as helpful tips and fun links.  If one of your goals is to send more personal mail in 2018, this is well worth your time!

3 // MY NEW DUSTBUSTER
What does it say about me that I wanted this for Christmas? (#oldlady)  We have hardwood flooring throughout the first floor of the house and this dustbuster makes it so easy to clean up crumbs or dust bunnies.  No need to sweep or drag out the big vacuum!  Bonus: the kids actually fight to use it.

4 // ONE LINE A DAY - A FIVE YEAR MEMORY BOOK
I've been intrigued by this concept for a few years now, but decided 2018 was the year to take the leap!  It will be the first full year in our new house, so lots of new memories to record.  We're also in a sweet spot of parenting - at the end of five years, my oldest will be 16 and that just seems impossible!  I know I will appreciate the little ordinary moments recorded when I'm old and gray.

5 // L.L.BEAN PULLOVER
My parents got this fleece pullover for me for Christmas and I have lived in it all month!  So warm without being bulky.  I also like that it's enough to wear underneath my puffer vest (I have something similar to this in black) for quick trips out.  My pullover is in Pewter because I'm boring, but Royal Plum is pretty too.

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A Peek into January's Prize Pack
The giveaway items I've chosen are a mix of some of my favorite things: etsy finds, vintage pieces and little bits picked up from various stores.  All have been purchased by me and nothing has been sponsored.  This incentive is to thank you for visiting here and linking up your posts.  It's my small way of showing you that your words are being heard!  I read every single entry and try to comment on or share a few (I wish I could do this for every one - not enough hours in the day!)  Here's how it works: every time you link up a blog or Instagram post, you get an entry.  The linkup will be open until Sunday, February 4th and I'll randomly pick a winner on February 5.

January's prizes include:
1 // Ear Warmer in Dove Grey

2 // Two Notecards from Currant Studio

3 // S'Mores Hot Cocoa

4 // $40 credit to try Home Chef (maybe for an at-home date night like we do?)

5 // Doily Coasters from Uncommon Handmade

I can't wait to hear about what you're loving this month!  Here's what to do:
1. Write a blog post sharing about five of your favorite things.  You could also share a photo on Instagram too! (hashtag is #bwffivefavorites)  It can have a theme (ie: five of your favorite slow cooker recipes) or just a mishmash like I usually do.
2. Please link back to this post so your readers know where to find the Five Favorites hub (posts not mentioning "Five Favorites" or not linking back to this post will be subject to removal).
3. Not mandatory, but feel free to visit some of the other posts in the link-up!  Sharing and/or leaving a comment is even better.
4. Make sure to add a link to your specific post or Instagram picture, not just your blog address.
Thanks for linking up!




Friday, January 26, 2018

No.76: Our Farmhouse Schoolhouse in Photos (Week 20)

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Just another ordinary week around here.  My brain has been swirling with mental to-do lists: home projects, school plans, creative endeavors, exercise, doctors' appointments, etc etc etc.  It's invigorating and exhausting all at the same time.  I'm limping to the Friday finish line, but so excited for Saturday - for the first time in a long time, I'm spending the day without a baby attached to my hip!


NOTES AND HIGHLIGHTS

+ A new addition to our morning basket: American Tall Tales.  This week, we read about Davy Crockett, his sassy wife Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, Johnny Appleseed and Stormalong.

+ Both M and D are in full multiplication mode in math (one is just learning and one needs the practice), so we started extra drills to make the facts stick.  I timed M (5th grade) while he filled out one of these worksheets ("Multiplication Drills") as fast as he could.  Next week, he'll do the same sheet and see if he can beat his time.  They've also been playing two apps called "Battleship - Math Game" and "Math Ninja - Times Tables".  Both free!

+ We finished up our Zoology unit this week and will be moving on to Human Anatomy for the rest of the school year.  Amazon boxes have been arriving with new resources, so the kids are dying to get started!  First up: bones and the skeletal system.

+ What's the best way to get a hesitant and perfectionist first grader to practice his writing?  Give him a penpal!  J is writing to a new friend in North Carolina and sent off his second letter this week.  He's already told me a handful of things he wants to ask him in his next letter.  So cute.


Current 1000 Books Project Total: 96/1000



MOTHER CULTURE & SELF-CARE

+ Health: Same old, same old.  Mutu week two and very little sugar.  The scale isn't really budging, which is frustrating, but I still fit in my pants, so there's that, I guess?
+ Reading: I started Happier at Home for book club.  Also started The Paris Architect.
+ Spiritual: Oh man, I'm slacking in this department.  I've set down Fulton Sheen's book for now.  I think I need something new.
+ Fun: More bread baking this week.  I'm hooked - I want to try ALL the recipes!  Good thing I have a handful of eager taste-testers.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

No.75: My Latest Reads // January

This post contains affiliate links.
Linking up with Kristin's Book by Book!

MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE: A NOVEL by Sophie Kinsella
My Rating: 🟊🟊🟊🟊✰
I think I’ve finally worked out how to feel good about life. Every time you see someone’s bright-and-shiny, remember: They have their own crappy truths too. Of course they do. And every time you see your own crappy truth and feel despair and think, Is this my life, remember: It’s not. Everyone’s got a bright-and-shiny, even if it’s hard to find sometimes. (96% on my Kindle)
My Not So Perfect Life was a fun, easy, totally chick-lit read and just what I needed to kick off 2018.  I caught on to the main dilemma right away (I'll keep it vague to avoid spoilers) but enjoyed it anyway.  I also appreciated the main message that the "highlight reel" you see on Instagram or blogs doesn't always tell the whole story.  We all have sadness, suffering or difficulty in our lives, even if we never share it over the Internet.  Another good reason to be kind to everyone you meet.


SUCH GOOD GIRLS: THE JOURNEY OF THE HOLOCAUST'S HIDDEN CHILD SURVIVORS by R.D.  Rosen
My Rating: 🟊🟊🟊🟊✰
For most of these survivors, the sources of family stories and intergenerational conversations—a cornerstone of the foundation of an individual’s identity—had been exterminated. Even if relatives survived, the family narrative had been badly broken. What often remained were unspeakable memories, shame, and helplessness, which constituted a lingering atrocity. The Nazis had not only stolen their families but their pasts as well.
I would describe Such Good Girls as part gripping memoir, part history book.  I was able to put myself in both the little girls' and their mothers' shoes and...gosh, it was such a horrible situation any way you look at it.  A heartbreaking but important read.


TO LIGHT A FIRE ON THE EARTH: PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL IN A SECULAR AGE by Bishop Robert Barron
My Rating: 🟊🟊🟊🟊✰
One of Barron’s maxims is “The sure sign that God is alive in you is joy.”
My first religious book of the year.  I reviewed this book here.


S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
My Rating: 🟊🟊🟊🟊
He is a man without a past sailing in a strange sea in a world where the stars have come loose in the firmament.
My brother surprised me with this book in my mailbox and an invitation to dive into it together.  Best gift ever!!  A story within a story, S. is unlike anything I have ever read before.  It was a little confusing and if you know anything about J.J. Abrams (he's responsible for shows like Lost), you know that there were a lot of questions asked and not as many answered.  Still so good and interesting.  I think I'll have to re-read it again to fully understand it. 


WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen
My Rating: ★★★✰
When you are five, you know your age down to the month. Even in your twenties, you know how old you are. I'm twenty-three you say, or maybe twenty-seven. But then in your thirties, something strange starts to happen. It is a mere hiccup at first, an instant of hesitation. How old are you? Oh, I'm--you start confidently, but then you stop. You were going to say thirty-three, but you are not. You're thirty-five. And then you're bothered, because you wonder if this is the beginning of the end. It is, of course, but it's decades before you admit it.
After reading, I'm really conflicted about Water for Elephants.  I think the premise of the inner workings of a circus is really interesting, but I struggled with the romance part.  I have trouble when books and movies push the reader/watcher into rooting for an affair.  This is a tricky one to recommend - I liked it, but there were lots of pretty explicit parts I had to skim.  


ANNE OF AVONLEA by L.M. Montgomery
My Rating: ★★★★✰
"I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily.  "I don't exactly want to make people know more...though I know that is the noblest ambition...but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me...to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born." (p.53)
"Well, I should like to see you go to college, Anne; but if you never do, don't be discontented about it.  We make our own lives wherever we are, after all...college can only help us to it more easily.  They are broad or narrow according to what we put into them, not what we get out.  Life is rich and full here...everywhere...if we can only learn how to open our whole hearts to its richness and fulness." (p.131) 
Oh Anne, you have my heart.  This one took me longer than usual to get through - I've been reading bits of it since September!  I think it's because it feels like each chapter is an "episode" and you can read one and then put it down for later.  There isn't that rushed, "I need to see what happened next!" feeling, if that makes any sense.  Even so, I really enjoy this sweet series and look forward to the third one.


THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins
My Rating: ★★★★✰
There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.
I'm probably the last person ever to read this book, but I now know what the hype was all about!  I was hooked from the start and finished in two days - so fast-paced and creepy.  My only critique is that I didn't really care for any of the characters, but maybe that was the point?




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MY 2018 READING IN NUMBERS
Books Read: 7
Fiction: 5  // Non-Fiction: 2
Original 2018 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 443 // Current "to-read" total: 442

Monday, January 22, 2018

No.74: Intentions for the End of January


"The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind." - Albert Einstein

INTENTIONS FOR THE END OF JANUARY

  • Habit of the Month: Self-Discipline
  • keep up with Mutu System exercises and some sort of daily walk (even just to the mailbox!)
  • find a dentist in our new town (we're ready to stop commuting to our old one)
  • unpack and display my newly inherited china from my grandmother
  • bake a cinnamon raisin bread
  • look into King Arthur Flour's #bakealong
  • start reading Happier at Home for book club
  • finish the last few chapters of Anne of Avonlea
  • print December Daily & January Coffee Project photos
  • gather enough cards/postcards for the International Correspondence Writing Month in February (100LT #28)
  • complete my winter cross-stitch project (100LT #86)
  • buy paint for the living room
  • buy frames for living room gallery wall
  • choose fabric and buy an insert to make Sophia's princess pillow

PREVIOUS INTENTIONS

If you're reading on your phone or in a reader, be sure to click over to see what I checked off the list!
  • no sugar all month (I'd say 99%: I used a bit of honey/maple syrup in a few recipes)
  • return to regular running and persevere despite freezing temps! (I hurt myself and won't be running indefinitely)
  • write thank you cards
  • find a family practice doctor in our new town
  • look into an extra-curricular activity for the big boys (still on the lookout for a good fit)
  • find and join the local Facebook yard sale page
  • finish reading Anne of Avonlea (so close!)
  • read at least two chapters in my Jackson Pollock book
  • buy paint for the living room
  • try baking ciabatta bread
  • bake bread in the dutch oven (100LT #51) (SO good!!)
  • unpack and display my newly inherited china from my grandmother
  • upgrade Inlinkz for the Five Favorites linkup (all ready for Five Favorites on the 29th!)
  • see if someone can recover the files on my old laptop hard drive (dropping it off this week - fingers crossed!)
  • choose fabric and buy an insert to make Sophia's princess pillow
What about you?  What do you hope to accomplish in the next two weeks?

Friday, January 19, 2018

No.73: Our Farmhouse Schoolhouse in Photos (Week 19)

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2018 is just zipping along - three weeks in already!  I've been having mixed levels of productivity: one day I am on fire, crossing off everything on my to-do list...and then the next day, I blow it all off to stay under a blanket and read.  This crazy weather we've been having in Virginia may have something to do with that...


NOTES AND HIGHLIGHTS

+ We're still reading and loving Redwall.  The boys, especially J, has been inspired to draw the characters and act out the battle scenes.  So fun - and encouraging - to know that they're actually listening.

+ M is learning about World War I in history and the first half of Sergeant York was on his assignment list for the week.  He couldn't put it down!  He finished the entire book in two days.  Next up: watching the old 1940's movie this weekend with his dad.

+ In M's History of Science, he started learning about Isaac Newton.  A few facts I found fascinating:
- Did you know that some think Newton may have had Asperger's?
- Unconvinced with Descartes and his beliefs on light, Newton did some dangerous experiments, including poking a needle behind his eye to see what would happen and staring at the sun while reflected in a mirror. (!!)

+ We learned a new card game (100 Little Things #33) called SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception.  There's a little bit of a learning curve but we had fun working together to make the sets.  Speaking of games, we also bought Civilization for the computer and the boys are hooked!  They have to work together or the computer gets shut off - I love seeing their heads huddled together as they make their plans and strategies.  


Current 1000 Books Project Total: 92/1000
Poetry Teatime Treat: homemade granola


MOTHER CULTURE & SELF-CARE

+ Health: I'm almost through Week 1 of the Mutu System, which is super easy: a handful of exercises and a daily walk.  My "walks" have just been to the mailbox, but I do have a really long driveway, so I guess it counts?  Still mostly sugar-free, but I did splurge with a little homemade granola.  So good.

+ Reading: Finished two books this week!  I'm still working on Anne of Avonlea and Water for Elephants before I start on our February book club book.

+ Spiritual: I'm reading one small section of Fulton Sheen's Guide to Contentment each day.  Also trying to make a game plan for Lent - I can't believe it's so close already!

+ Fun: Blogging and bread-making are at the top of the list this week. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

No.72: New Habits, Little by Little: Homesteading 101 - Make Your Daily Bread

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.

I should probably start with this disclaimer: I'm still buying bread at the grocery store and this doesn't happen every day.  But steps in the right direction!

I've been fascinated by the art and skill of bread baking for awhile now...and honestly, more than a little intimidated.  But I've been telling my kids that to be better at something, we have to work hard at it and well, maybe Mama needs to listen to what she's preaching.

Below are the four recipes I've tried so far:
  • "Best Bread Machine Bread"
    • I started this on my bread machine's dough setting and then separated into two loaf pans.  After they rose again (about an hour or two, depending on the day), I baked for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.
    • Consensus: Delicious!  The kids ate the entire loaf in one sitting.  We've made the recipe four times since.
  • Ciabatta Bread
    • After getting a recommendation for ciabatta on Instagram (thank you Katherine!!), I googled and found this recipe.  Um... this definitely wasn't Ciabatta 101.  This required a two-day process and I even made my own starter/sponge!  
    • Consensus: I may have done something wrong here - I don't think it was as airy as it was supposed to be.  Still super delicious.  We ate it with soup.   
  • Ciabatta Bread
    • THIS is the recipe I think Katherine was talking about, hah!  The bread machine does most of the work for you, but the second half? Oh.my.word.  I was a hot mess.  The gooey, sticky dough is supposed to rest under a bowl for 15 minutes and I had the hardest time getting it underneath.  My kids kept yelling, "IT'S ALIVE!!"  Don't even get me started about transferring to a baking sheet to rise...  
    • Consensus: Yum.  My technique needs improvement, but definitely airier than the one I made above.
  • White Bread
    • Mark found this recipe and led the baking of this one.  It makes two massively tall loaves!  I'm thinking that we could separate it into four instead and it wouldn't make much of a difference.
    • Consensus: As far as sheer size, these are the clear winners, but I prefer the taste of the other breads above.
Still on my list: bread cooked in the Dutch oven, something that uses almond flour, pretzel bites, and maybe a cinnamon raisin loaf.  And probably a workout plan too.  Thank goodness there are 8 people in this house or I'd need a bigger pair of pants!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

No.71: Into the Depths of Catholicism - Book #1 and A Reading Challenge

"...I try to project a joyful, confident presence.  To be honest, I think the smile goes a long way.  I hope they see a joyfulness in being Catholic, that there's more to it than the scandal we've been through - without for a second denying those scandals, and how terrible they were, but there's more to it than that.  I like to believe that gives people hope." (p.219) 
I think I first stumbled upon Bishop Robert Barron's work with Word on Fire last winter.  After hearing glowing reviews, I purchased his Catholicism DVD series for Mark's birthday and we have really enjoyed watching them.  Barron has a way of making challenging theological concepts approachable and understandable and in a non-threatening way.  His evangelization method is a bit unique, so I was excited to read more in his new book, To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age.

To Light a Fire on the Earth is the result of hours of conversations between Bishop Barron and journalist John L. Allen Jr.  The book reads like an interview, with commentary from Allen and long quoted passages from Barron.  It is a healthy mix of biography, reflection and down-to-earth advice.  I like Barron's strategic use of beauty as an invitation for individuals to learn more about Catholicism:
In Christian tradition, beauty, goodness, and truth are known as ‘transcendentals,’ linked to the three core human abilities to feel, to wish, and to think. Jesus refers to them in the Great Commandment when he talks about the mind, the soul, and the heart and inducements to take the wrong path with each of the transcendentals formed the core of his temptation scene in the Gospels. While Barron is convinced that Catholic Christianity represents the fullness of all three, he’s equally convinced that the right way to open up the Catholic world to someone is with its beauty…
"There’s something winsome and less threatening about the beautiful. ‘Just look,’ the evangelist might say,' at Chartres Cathedral or the Sainte Chapelle or the Sistine Chapel ceiling or the mosaics at Ravenna. ‘Just read,’ he might urge, ‘Dante’s Divine Comedy or one of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poems, or Chesterton’s Orthodoxy.’ ‘Just watch,’ he might suggest, ‘Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity at work among the poorest of the poor.’ The wager is that the encounter with the beautiful will naturally lead someone to ask ‘What made such a thing possible?’" (p.41)
I appreciated Barron's analysis on a wide range of topics concerning Catholics today, everything from prayer to science to social media.  Lots of food for thought.  This book is a great choice for someone interested in a new way of evangelizing faith to a skeptical and/or uninterested generation.

I received this book from Blogging for Books and all opinions are my own.

_________________________________________

One of my 2018 goals is to "Dive deep into faith" and this book was just the inspiration I needed to get started.  This quote really stuck out to me: 
...Barron's stock advice to aspiring evangelists is to "read, read, read," meaning to immerse oneself in Catholic thought and teaching, and in the great works of Catholic literature.  Secular nones sometimes ask a lot of smart questions of believers, Barron says, and without a solid intellectual foundation, evangelists will find themselves flustered, frustrated, and ultimately, ineffective. (p.126)
Faith is like a muscle - I need to do the work to make it stretch and grow.  I need to ask - and be able to answer - "What do I believe and why do I believe it?"  So to make it fun (and keep me on track!), I created this handy little reading challenge.  Feel free to use it too!  While the challenge was made with Catholicism in mind, it certainly can be adapted to other denominations too.  I'd love to know your favorite books - help me fill in the blanks!

Monday, January 15, 2018

No.70: Wintertime ABCs

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ANNE OF GREEN GABLES - I'm slowly working my way through this series (as part of 100 Little Things) and it's such a refreshing change from the majority of books I read.  I tend to be a bit of a pessimist and Anne's wonder and positive imagination remind me to seek the good in everything. 

BREAD - The idea of baking my own bread has been really intimidating, but I decided 2018 is the year to jump in with both feet!  I've started experimenting with a few recipes and it is SO satisfying to pull the loaves out of the oven.  Cue the crazy texts to my husband saying, "I made this!  Check out that crust.  Look at the crumb!"

CONTENTMENT - My mom gave me a copy of Fulton Sheen's Guide to Contentment and I've been reading a section or two every day.  In the book, Sheen covers multiple aspects of the human experience ("love, anxiety, beauty, meditation, honesty, freedom, compulsion, self-pity, success, failure, health, joy, marriage, sex, faith, and adventure...") and how they can move you toward or further from contentment.  Lots of food for thought in one little book.

DUTCH OVEN - My dinnertime workhorse!  I've been using my dutch oven at least once a week this winter.  A few of our favorites: Simple Tomato Soup, Pot Roast, and Chicken Orzo Soup.

EGGS - After Sophie was born, I developed some sort of egg sensitivity and haven't been able to eat them without feeling nauseous since.  I can have them in things (like baked goods) but not on their own.  Eating a healthy breakfast is tricky when you can't have the #1 go-to protein source.  Right now, I'm surviving on baked oatmeal and peanut butter and banana toast.  I'll add in green smoothies when it's warmer.


FIREPLACE - We've had gas fireplaces in our previous houses, but just used them for aesthetic value and never for warmth.  We're finally using the one in this house and oh my gosh, I can't believe what I was missing!  There's something so cozy and peaceful about reading, playing or shoot, even scrolling Instagram by the fire.

GROCERY PICKUP - This deserves a blog post all its own, but we've started using Walmart's Grocery Pickup and it has changed.my.world.  My routine: I make a menu and grocery list on Thursday evening and add the items to the app by Friday afternoon.  Mark takes our recycling to the dump on Saturday mornings (#thatcountrylife) and then swings by Walmart on the way home.  They literally come out and put the bags in the car for you!  The idea of grocery shopping with all of these kids sends me into a panic, so this discovery has been a God-send.  (P.S. If you want to try it out, you can use this link to get $10 off your first order.)

HANDIWORK - My grandmother was an accomplished seamstress.  She taught me how to thread a needle and piece a quilt.  I've been thinking about her often as I add stitches to an old cross-stitch project I hope to finish this winter.  There's something so calming and meditative about handiwork.

INFINITY SCARF - Last year, I bought a chunky knit scarf secondhand on Thredup, but never really had an opportunity to wear it.  (We had such a mild winter in 2017.)  Thank goodness for this year's frigid weather!  Totally kidding, but it has given me ample opportunity to wear it and it's my new favorite scarf.  So warm.

JOURNALING - I'm rusty at this.  I guess blogging is a form of journaling, but I want to revisit the method of old-fashioned pen to paper.  I'm starting small with my One Line a Day journal for now.


KINDNESS - As I was reflecting on my word for 2018, I found this quote on Pinterest: "A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees."

LITTLE ACTIONS EVERYDAY - This is my motto as I work toward my big 2018 goals.  Every morning, I jot down four or five small actions that I can accomplish that day.  Examples are: texting a relative to check in and say hello (my "roots" goal), measuring a wall to see how many frames I need (my "home projects" goal), or eating something green at every meal (my "health" goal).  While the little actions must be small enough to complete that day, they really do add up.  I'm only two weeks in and am already feeling the momentum.

MUTU
 - With my body seemingly falling apart right now, I'm going back to the basics and revisiting the Mutu System.  Last year, I only got four or five weeks in before the craziness of home buying/selling consumed me, so I'm anxious to complete the entire program this time.  After six babies, I know my core and pelvic floor could really use some work.

NO SUGAR - Two weeks in and so far, so good.  I haven't been nearly as grouchy as I expected!  During the first week, I felt constantly hungry and I could tell I was eating because I was trying to fill that sugar void.  I tried to eat intentionally, but I'm sure the carb content was pretty high.  That "hunger" is slowly going away now, although I do desire it when I'm feeling overwhelmed - hello, stress eater!  New habits, little by little...

ORDINARY TIME - I loved Kallah's post about her word of the year and have thought about it often: "Ordinary Time for a Catholic is interrupted by the extraordinary. It isn’t supposed to stretch out in an uninterrupted linear distance. It is a time set aside, intentionally, where you are grounded, specifically FOR the exciting (Christmas! Easter! Pentecost!) or difficult (LENT!) times ahead. To me, a sense of Ordinary Time is actually an appreciation of Time itself; how precious it is, and how easy it is to waste it."


PAINT - This keeps getting pushed to the back burner, but I'm hoping to finally start painting the first floor soon.  I can't wait!  I find painting a room about as calming as I do handiwork - is that my introvert showing? #alonetimeinmyhead

QUIET HOUR - Speaking of "Introverted Sanity Savers", we've started our daily Quiet Hour again after lunch.  The big boys read while the little ones play quietly upstairs, the baby (hopefully) naps and I get to enjoy the silence.  My self-imposed rules are that I cannot do chores or scroll social media (although I sometimes cheat at this one...) and I should either read, blog or do something creative.  I desperately need that space in my day just for me.

READING ON THE KINDLE - After years of fighting it, I finally broke down and asked for a Kindle for Christmas.  I have the super basic one and like it so far.  I really like that I can borrow and read books from the library.  It will never replace the feel and smell of a hardback novel, but it's close.  (I treated myself to this reading light and this cover and love both.  It's the little things.)

SNOW - After that magical weekend in December, we've been teased with bits of flurries, but nothing sticks.  The kids are dying for another round!  We'll see if we get lucky.

TWINKLE LIGHTS - The Christmas decorations have all been put away, but I kept the star lights up in the kitchen for January.  I love tidying up in there after dinner and then shutting off all the lights except for the stars.     


UNIFORM - Even though it's freezing outside, I've started thinking about my "mom uniform" for spring.  Like my fall/winter wardrobe, I'll be pretty much starting from scratch and want to make smart choices.  Right now, I've got casual dresses and simple tops with not-too-short-but-not-old-lady shorts on the list.  Clearly, I have some work to do in the next few months.

VALUABLE - You know how sometimes a Bible verse (many times one that you've read before) pops out at you in a new way?  This line from Mass on Sunday did that for me: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been purchased at a price."  I must have needed the reminder that in the eyes of God, I have value.

WEANING - Can I just admit that I am SO ready to be done nursing?  The plan is to continue through cold season and then start making the switch.  I.can't.wait.

and X, Y...

Zzz'S - I know many people hate winter's short days, but I've been getting the best sleep because of it.  Because it gets dark so early, I'm drowsy and ready for bed by 9:00, and since it's pitch black outside, why not?!  It's like hibernation for humans.  Now if my fussy teething baby will get the hint, hah!


Like with my Summertime ABCs post back in July, I took a walk around our property.  So hard to find beauty when everything is bare and brown, but the sky sure was a gorgeous blue that day.

Friday, January 12, 2018

No.69: Our Farmhouse Schoolhouse in Photos (Week 18)

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And just like that, we're halfway through our school year!  I'm wearing that sentence as a badge of honor today.  Some weeks have been wonderfully easy and some weeks have been insanely hard.  But couldn't that be said for motherhood in general?  I'm trying to stop frantically worrying that I'm screwing up my kids and making wrong decisions and have peace that I'm doing what is best for them right this minute.  For now, the future can wait.


NOTES AND HIGHLIGHTS

+ Our new read-aloud for the rest of January is Redwall.   I remember my brother reading and enjoying these as a kid and now I understand why!  When I shared the book on Instagram, there were so many positive comments about the series, so it definitely is a favorite among many.  As an addition, my little ones have been following along to the story using the graphic novel version.

+ M finished up his unit on Galileo.  Our last "project" is to finally put together the new-to-us telescope we were gifted a few months ago!  Two interesting links we found this week:
- This article about the Catholic perspective on the Galileo controversy
- A weird fact: Did you know that Galileo's middle finger is on display in the Florence History of Science Museum?

+ After getting back to normal, the last piece of the school day puzzle was including activities for Sophie and TJ from A Year of Playing Skillfully.   She loves having "special" school subjects just for her - I really need to be better about scheduling the time.  This week, we made cinnamon sugar tortilla snowflakes (a huge hit with everybody) and got the wiggles out with ABC exercise cards.  She and TJ also watched Leapfrog's Phonics Farm and Letter Factory on repeat.


Current 1000 Books Project Total: 91/1000
Poetry Teatime Treat: nothing this week - oops!


MOTHER CULTURE & SELF-CARE

+ Health: My right leg/hip/groin feels all out of whack and I've been out of commission all week.  Maybe I should see a chiropractor?  I don't know what I managed to do to myself, but I need to be an adult about it and really let myself heal.  I think my May half marathon is out for 2018. Super frustrating and discouraging right out the gate for sure.  

+ Reading: I finished Such Good Girls.  I'm still making my way through Bishop Barron's new book, Jackson Pollock, Anne of Avonlea and I started Water for Elephants too.  Hoping to finish at least two of these this weekend.

+ Spiritual: I'm reading one small section of Fulton Sheen's Guide to Contentment each day.

+ Fun: I added a few stitches to my cross-stitch.  I've been keeping up with my photography project and have started making plans for a mini album.  My new kitchen table arrived (we've been without one for seven months) and I've been dreaming about ways to spruce up the room.  Creativity can manifest itself in so many unique ways in my everyday life - I just have to seek it.
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