Thursday, May 31, 2018

No.125: What I Learned in May

Linking up with Kelly!

1 // GOOD HABITS BEGET MORE GOOD HABITS.
Running makes me want to eat better - I can tell a huge difference in my endurance when I eat well vs. when I eat crap.  And now eating better is leading me to give up sugar again (!!) which is huge for a stress-eating, sugarholic like me.  In full disclosure, I will also admit that the opposite of this lesson is totally true for me too.  Skipping workouts leads to sad justifications about why I'm throwing back handfuls of chocolate chips at 10am.  I'm a work in progress.

2 // IT'S BETTER FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH IF I PUT THE SCALE AWAY.
This was hard for me but liberating too.  I am data-driven and like to see my progress (give me all the charts and graphs!) but the mental frustration and fatigue it created was too much.  Mark and I are going to do "check-ins" once a month, but otherwise, that scale is staying in the closet!

3 // THERE IS SO MUCH SUGAR IN BAKED BEANS!
I picked up a can of Grillin' Beans for dinner and they were so delicious.  I was declaring my love for them when Mark glanced at the nutrition facts and said, "Well yeah, they're delicious!  There's over 20 grams of sugar in it!"  Guess those beans won't be going back into my cart anytime soon. Yikes.

4 // CARPENTER BEES ARE TROUBLE.
Carpenter bees are huge and seem to be hanging around our porches this spring.  Mike, our Orkin man, said that they can make nests in the wood and eventually cause a lot of damage.  He found one hole and treated it, but we have to be really vigilant.  There's always something when you're a homeowner! 

5 // WEANING IS HARD.
So we've made a little progress: we've deleted most of the daytime "I'm just bored so how 'bout I nurse?" feedings and just have bedtime and naptime to go.  I've been using the Ergo a lot for naptime, so he can still be close to me.  Mark helps with bedtime but we haven't been consistent.  I'm hoping June is the month where we can make the final break. 

6 // HOMESCHOOLING IS ALSO HARD, BUT IT'S BEEN A GREAT FIT FOR OUR FAMILY THIS YEAR.
For the first time in many years, my kids ended a school year without me questioning everything.  We really found a sweet spot and we're all excited to continue on.  Schooling is always a discernment process and I'm really thankful to have found what works for us right now.

7 // I DON'T MISS MY HOME DECOR SHOP AS MUCH AS I THOUGHT I WOULD.
I recently listened to a podcast episode about "living more with less" and the guest's story was similar to my own: she had a thriving small business that she loved, but stepped away for something better.  It's been about seven months since we closed Big White Farmhouse's virtual doors.  While I loved working with my cousin and supporting American artisans, there are so many things I definitely don't miss: the unconscious stress of constantly changing social media, unrelenting marketing (an area I'm very weak in) and being unable to execute a business in a way I thought I should.  To everything there is a season and while I'm so thankful I dove into retail, I'm also excited to see what's next.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

No.124: My Latest Reads // May

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


ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY by Mildred D. Taylor
My Rating: ★★
Mama's grip did not lessen.  "It is something, Cassie.  White is something just like black is something.  Everybody born on this earth is something and nobody, no matter what color, is better than anybody else." (p.127)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry was assigned reading for my fifth grader's history curriculum.  While I thought I had read it as a kid, as he was narrating to me, I quickly realized that I remembered close to nothing!  This book was heart-breaking for me in the way that some of the same issues still manifest today.  And then to have to talk about it with my kid?  Important, but so sad.

THE TWELVE LIVES OF SAMUEL HAWLEY by Hannah Tinti
My Rating: ★★
Love isn't about keeping promises. It's about knowing someone better than anyone else. I'm the only one who knows him. I'm the only one who ever will.
This book was a library pick (library, I just can't quit you!!) that I knew nothing about and primarily chose for the cover.  It is the story of a single father with a mysterious background, his 12 bullet wounds (each with their own story), and a dangerous past coming back to haunt him.  It had an overall melancholy tone, but I liked it.




MAKE YOUR BED: LITTLE THINGS THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE...AND MAYBE THE WORLD by Admiral William H. McRaven (Ret.)
My Rating: ★★
Remember...start each day with a task completed.  Find someone to help you through life.  Respect everyone.  Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often.  But if you take some risks, step up when times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden, and never, ever give up - if you do these things, then you can change your life for the better...and maybe the world! (p.104)
My dad gave me this little book for Christmas and it got lost in my overwhelming stack of nightstand books.  So glad I found it this month!  A quick read with solid advice.  My oldest read it after me and enjoyed it too.

THE NO.1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY by Alexander McCall Smith
My Rating: ★★
I am not ashamed to be called an African patriot, said Mma Ramotswe. I love all the people whom God made, but I especially know how to love the people who live in this place. They are my people, my brothers and sisters. It is my duty to help them to solve the mysteries in their lives. That is what I am called to do.
We read The Great Cake Mystery, one of Smith's books for children, for school and enjoyed it so much that I had to pick up the first book in this series for adults.  I liked it!  Such a neat way to learn about Botswana too.


THE ART DETECTIVE: FAKES, FRAUDS, AND FINDS AND THE SEARCH FOR LOST TREASURES by Philip Mould
My Rating: ★★
If I am honest, what first got me interested in art (and I had first done it with silver teaspoons and shoe buckles as a child) was the thrill of seizing on things others might have missed or undervalued.  As a result I got to love the paintings I later moved on to.  I and my colleagues may occupy a world of the ultimate luxury goods, of cosmopolitan refinement and intellectual acumen, but beneath the varnished surface the competitive animal lurks. (p.216)
I picked up The Art Detective at the thrift store for $1.  Some stories were more interesting than others and it's definitely a book for a specific niche, but I learned a lot about art dealing and how paintings are restored.

THE LAST GIRL: MY STORY OF CAPTIVITY, AND MY FIGHT AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE by Nadia Murad
My Rating: ★★
I still think that being forced to leave your home out of fear is one of the worst injustices a human being can face. Everything you love is stolen, and you risk your life to live in a place that means nothing to you and where, because you come from a country now known for war and terrorism, you are not really wanted. (19%)
I don't even know where to begin with this one.  I read it in two days and was so heartbroken by her story.  I know this book will stay with me for awhile.  A powerful read.

I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK: ONE WOMAN'S OBSESSIVE SEARCH FOR THE GOLDEN STATE KILLER by Michelle McNamara
My Rating: ★★
This is how it ends for you.“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,” you threatened a victim once.Open the door. Show us your face.Walk into the light.
My fellow true-crime loving brother recommended this book to me and holy cow.  I'll Be Gone in the Dark is probably the scariest book I've ever read!  I couldn't read it past 3 in the afternoon or I would have terrifying, heart-thumping dreams all night long.  Thank goodness for DNA - they recently caught this guy


_________________________________

MY 2018 READING IN NUMBERS
Books Read: 33
Fiction: 20  // Non-Fiction: 13
Kindle Books: 18  // Paper Books: 15
Original 2018 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 443 // Current "to-read" total: 436

Monday, May 28, 2018

No.123: Five May Favorites (A Link-Up & A Giveaway!)

This post contains affiliate links.

Welcome to the Five Favorites linkup!  Congratulations to Mary, with April's winning post: five favorites / amazon music.  Be sure to check below for this month's prize pack!  

1 // ALL THE PASTA SALADS
What is summer without pasta salad?  They are perfect for my big crew because I can make a lot inexpensively and you can add a ton of vegetables too.  My favorite is the classic Italian version, but we recently tried one with tortellini which was good too.  Next on the list: this Greek-inspired one!

2 // P'S SWING
P got this swing for Christmas and it has gotten a ton of use this spring.  Not only can he swing like the big kids, it also keeps him contained and out of trouble for 10 minutes.  One of the only ways I can read outside right now, hah! 

3 // THE 2017 CROSSFIT DOCUMENTARY, THE REDEEMED AND THE DOMINANT 
This one is silly because I don't even do Crossfit, but these yearly documentaries are so inspiring to me and this year is no exception.  Mark and I like to watch these when we're wavering a bit health-wise and need a boost.

4 // PRE-CUT PARCHMENT PAPER
I recently splurged and bought a pack of pre-cut parchment paper for bread making and they are so great!  With the roll version, I always cut pieces that were too small or way too big (eye-balling measurements is obviously not my strong suit) so the pre-cut version helps avoid my inevitable waste.  Definitely not a baking "need", but so nice to have.

5 // TWEEZER GURU
I was organizing my bathroom cabinet and came across a pair of tweezers I must have purchased and totally forgotten about when we moved last year.  I really like them!  The edges are slanted and sharp.  The handle is a little bulkier than I'm used to, but still manageable.   

_______________________________


A Peek into May'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 official closing date will be Sunday, June 3rd and I'll randomly pick a winner on June 4.

May's prizes include:
1 // Our Lady of the Ordinary greeting card from A Creative Almanac

2 // Garden Candle 

3 // Heart Pot from Freckled Hen Farmhouse

4 // Garden letterpress notebook

5 // Two packs of seed bombs from Department of Everyday

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, May 25, 2018

No.122: And We're Done! Reflections On Our First School Year at the Farmhouse

This post contains affiliate links.

School's out for summer!  A few thoughts and memories I want to remember:

I wasn't 100% sure I was ready to homeschool again.  I don't necessarily identify myself as a "homeschool mom"- I'm just a mother who happens to homeschool.  (I'm sure that doesn't make any sense to anyone other than me.)  But with the bullying and the learning difficulties in public school, I knew it was the best option for our family and I jumped in head-first, hopeful.  Only by God's grace can I say that it was a life-changing year.  A difficult year for sure, but a good one.  Self esteem was gained and big strides were made in my dyslexic learners.  Last fall, Mark and I considered this to be a "rebuilding year," building our children back up emotionally and helping them overcome the obstacles they needed extra help with in school.  As always, we were open to the idea of returning them to public school in the fall, but they all enthusiastically want to continue at home. 

Duds and failures:
1. Poetry teatime // I had the best intentions and this never worked out quite how I envisioned it.  We ended up ditching the poetry and just ate homemade treats once a week.  Maybe we'll try again next year?
2. Fulton Sheen // I loved learning about Fulton Sheen with my fifth grader but we quickly lost steam when it came to the crafty/cut-and-paste part of the curriculum.  It wasn't a great fit for my quickly maturing boy.
3. States and capitals // We started learning these at the very beginning of the year and then I dropped it for no apparent reason.  Oops.

Successes:
1. Charlotte Mason // While we definitely aren't purists, this method is really complementary to the way my kids and I learn.  Curiosity and good books certainly are my love language!
2. History // Across the board, the kids said history was their favorite subject.  I'm excited to continue with more rich, living books that make history come alive.  
3. Morning basket // The morning routine of reading aloud was the glue that helped me adequately teach four different students.  On a loop, we read our fiction selections, history, science, African studies, and poetry together before separating for individual reading and math.  So thankful that we were able to experience those books all at the same time.

To celebrate the last day of school, everyone got a book to jumpstart summer reading:

Tradition is also to get everyone a treat, so we celebrated with vanilla milkshakes from Chickfila!

It was a good, good school year.  I'm looking forward to a summer of (relative) relaxation and rejuvenation before jumping back in again.

Monday, May 21, 2018

No.121: Intentions for the End of May


This sounds a little silly, but I'm doing something big today: I'm putting away the scale.  I know this is the epitome of first-world problems, but here's my rationale: when I run, I feel invincible.  I feel strong and proud of myself.  But nothing kills that runner's high faster than stepping on the scale and seeing...nothing.  No change (or even negative change!) after good choices and hard work.  This has been happening for a few weeks now and is making me reassess my health goals: am I running and eating better because it makes me feel alive or am I doing it all because I want to be thin?  Losing weight may come - or it may not - but I don't want that to be the driving force anymore.  So the scale is going into storage for now.


INTENTIONS FOR THE END OF MAY

  • put away the scale - maybe only one check-in on the first of every month?
  • start incorporating more stretching on off days, especially for my hip muscles
  • tidy up the school room for summer and take inventory of supplies needed
  • make a plan for screen use during the summer and stick to it
  • get my car to the mechanic for an inspection
  • renew library cards
  • buy a new push broom
  • practice what I preach to the kids and floss every.single.night (not randomly, like I usually do)
  • paint my toes
  • make energy bites
  • buy an ice cream maker (100LT #52)
  • string lights throughout the back porch 
  • borrow a power washer and start prepping the front porch for staining
  • scrub bird poop off the porch (the con to having baby birds)
  • plan a day with my mom
  • give all of the boys haircuts

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!
  • WATER - drink lots and lots of it (I need to be better about this)
  • add a consistent strength training day to my weekly exercise load (not my favorite day of the week, but necessary to stay injury-free)
  • find two new podcasts to listen to while running (listened to a few episodes of Another Mother Runner and The Lazy Genius)
  • mail in the kids' finished standardized testing
  • make a list of the remaining assignments/readings for the last few weeks of school
  • plan a day with my mom
  • buy a succulent (100LT #48) and some herbs for the kitchen window
  • look into getting an ice cream maker
  • renew library cards
  • finish reading Dorothy Day's biography (still plugging away on this one - almost done!)
  • read two books sitting on my nightstand (I read Make Your Bed and The Art Detective )
  • decide on new summer sandals, one casual pair and one for church (still undecided - I think I want Birks for the casual ones, but haven't found a dressier pair I like yet)
  • buy sandals for P (I found an old pair from his big brothers for him to wear - adorable!)
  • make oobleck with Sophie (100LT #93)
  • buy tiny hooks
  • string lights throughout the back porch
  • borrow a power washer and start prepping the front porch for staining (all the rain postponed this, but I need to get it done soon)

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

No.120: New Habits, Little by Little: A Seven Changes Update

This post contains affiliate links.

It's been almost exactly two months since I talked about seven areas in my life that needed change.  Ever so slowly, I've been chipping away and while this sort of thing is definitely a marathon not a sprint, I'm pleased with the tiny progress I've made so far.  Below are a few steps I've taken and three new goals for each.  My motto: An intentional life happens little by little.  Linking up with Kelly's Quick Takes again!


1 // TIME

The more I think about this, the more "time" is really just shorthand for "self-care."  My perfectionist tendencies had me believe that if I couldn't have it exactly how I envisioned it, it wasn't worth starting at all.  And that's so not true.  Here's what I've been working on:
  • I read Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done and it really helped me identify my problem areas and to get my perfectionism in check.  I have carried a lot of his ideas with me since - sign of a good book!
  • Starting small, I asked myself, "What makes you feel alive?"  And for me, that's running.  I started getting up earlier, going as far as 30 minutes will take me, and I feel like a completely new person.
  • GOALS
    1. Create a routine for prayer & Bible study.
    2. Put a monthly "day out" on the calendar and stick with it.
    3. Sign up for a race in the fall.

2 // WASTE

In my research, I stumbled on an entire "zero waste" community and woo, are they both inspiring and intimidating!  "Less waste" seems like a more reasonable goal for me right now.  Here's what I've been working on:
  • Our plastic containers were looking pretty bad (and we were missing a third of the lids - how??) so I invested in some glass ones.  I love them!  They don't stain, clean easily and look super cute stacked in the fridge.  
  • I joined a local group on Trash Nothing, a freecycling website.  You can offer or request items and everything is 100% free.  For example, right now, people are offering a charcoal grill, sports equipment, even a desk and dresser!  I check in frequently just to see what's available.
  • I've been saving vegetable scraps to make bone broth.  Onion skins, celery leaves, carrot peels, and leftover fresh herbs!  I keep them all in a big bag in the freezer and when the bag is full, I plan a whole chicken for dinner, which will then be used to make broth.  There is something so satisfying about making something delicious from scraps.  My grandmother would be proud.   
  • Flexible meal planning has been helpful in the waste department as well.  When I feel like we have too much in the fridge, I bump my planned dinner to the next day and have a "Refrigerator Clean-out Night" to use up all the half-eaten odds and ends.   
  • GOALS
    1. Research composting.
    2. Get rid of old couch on Trash Nothing.
    3. Finish reading An Everlasting Meal.

3 // SLOW FASHION 

When everyone is ruthlessly paring down their wardrobes into capsules, I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum: I have very little!  This is mostly due to my constantly fluctuating midsection - being pregnant and postpartum for over a decade hasn't inspired me to shop beyond the bare essentials.  But I'm ready to work on this and I want to do it the right way.  Here's what I've been working on:
  • My mom and I have started thrifting together and it has opened my eyes to an entire new world.  The quality of the clothes varies, but most are in amazing shape - some were even brand new with tags!  
  • I tried Thred Up's new Goody Box and just signed up for a second "Spring Essentials" one.  
  • GOALS
    1. Read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion.
    2. Find a new ethical company to support.
    3. Start setting aside a little money to invest in a quality piece of clothing.

4 // EDUCATION

Education is on my mind a lot, but I really haven't had time to think beyond the daily grind.  Summer break seems like a good time to work on this area before we begin again in the fall. 
  • GOALS
    1. Read Know and Tell.
    2. Brainstorm new ways for creative narration for school in the fall.
    3. Start writing in my commonplace book again. 

5 // NATURE & BEING OUTDOORS

We haven't quite shaken our "indoor people" habits, but we're making progress!  The past few weeks have been tricky with allergy-ridden children and never-ending rain, but I'm hopeful we'll get back to our routine soon.  Here's what I've been working on: 
  • We started the 1000 Hours Outside challenge in March.  At this writing, we're at 63 hours.  The pollen really put a damper on our fun - one of my kids in particular is especially allergic with swollen, itchy eyes.
  • I've tried to be intentional about seeking out nature, photographing plants that catch my eye and researching their names.  
  • The birds hatching on our front porch fan have been fascinating to watch too.  We joined Nest Watch and are helping scientists with our data.  
  • GOALS
    1. Read How To Raise a Wild Child.
    2. Determine what the trees in our backyard are.
    3. Plant new shrubs in our front flower beds.  Maybe ones that attract birds and butterflies?

6 // LESS SCREENS

I've found that this change is a natural consequence to #5: more time outdoors equals less need for screens.  Lately though, as we've been stuck inside with days and days of rain, I've found the opposite to be true.  So much begging for a show!  Here's a few other things we've been working on:
  • Mark and I don't watch television on weekdays.  This sort-of evolved naturally because we were both reading books we couldn't put down.  Now in hindsight, we didn't realize how many hours of our life we wasted scrolling through Netflix trying to find something to watch!  I'm reading more than I ever have before simply because of this small change.  
  • Mark downgraded to a "dumb" phone.  This seems like a social experiment (can he do it?  and for how long?), but he says that he's seeing a lot of benefits already.
  • I'm trying to only scroll when I'm alone instead of in front of my kids - I am rarely alone, hah, so this helps with time management for me as well.
  • GOALS
    1. Make a plan for screen use during the summer and stick to it.
    2. Read Hands Free Mama.

7 // PARENTING

I'm in the thick of parenting, but I haven't really touched the intentional part of this change yet.  Putting this one on my summer to-do list.
  • GOALS
    1. Complete the gallery wall of family photos in the living room.
    2. Read Siblings Without Rivalry.
    3. Prioritize one-on-one time with each child.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

No.119: Our Extraordinary Ordinary Life // May 2018 Edition

A monthly project featuring ten photos throughout the day that show a peek into our extraordinarily ordinary life.  
Note: Today I took a more detailed look at our day and took way more than 10 pictures!  I ended up narrowing it down to 15.  A fun way to change things up.

A Day in the Life - Monday, May 14, 2018


5:10am - I'm wide awake, so I get up for some quiet time before everyone else wakes up.  Coffee, a quick IG scroll and then I start working on my to-do list for the day.  I e-mail back and forth with Mark - he sends me a new joke every morning and it's the best.  Today's: "Did you hear about the semi-colon that broke the law?  He was given two consecutive sentences."  Har har har.

5:40am - I sneak in a few pages of reading while it's still silent.  Current book is The Art Detective.

5:50am - TJ is awake and sits with me to cuddle.  I try to press on with a few more pages, but M is up a few minutes later and I know reading time is done for now.

6:10am - Mondays are my "catch up on everything I neglected all weekend" days.  I start a load of laundry and "fluff" the laundry left in the dryer from Saturday.  J wakes up around 6:15 and D and P follow soon after.  I get dough for a loaf of honey wheat bread going in the bread machine.

6:30am - I run back to put in my contacts and make my bed, but decide to just wash everything so I strip the bed instead.

6:45am - S, my best sleeper, is awake.  The two big boys start breakfast - today they're making everyone french toast with strawberries.

7:00am - I switch laundry and start a new load, then have my breakfast.  Lately I've been obsessed with oatmeal with brown sugar, frozen Maine blueberries and a handful of walnuts - it tastes like a blueberry muffin!  Delicious.

7:30am - The kids clean the kitchen while I get the baby changed for the day.  At 7:35, I find ants in the downstairs bathroom, so it sets me on a "sweep and clean EVERYTHING" spree.

7:50am - My hip/groin muscle is bothering me today so I google "hip strength exercises," do a few types of lunges and plan to complete a better stretch later in the day.  For now, icing and Motrin will have to do.

8:10am - I put the bread dough in a pan to rise.  The baby asks for "pop pop" and since that's his favorite food right now, I agree and make a batch of popcorn...even though it's 8:00 in the morning.

8:30am - I take laundry out to fold, start another load and have the kids strip their beds so I can do their sheets too.  When I come out of the laundry room, I find S and TJ playing "fishing" with a Swiffer and a broom.  They tell me they caught a salmon and a baby shark.


8:45am - I do my daily check on the baby birds and make a mental note to ask my dad to borrow his powerwasher.  The pollen on the front porch is out of control!

8:50am - I head up to the school room to get ready for our day.  The baby is already losing it so I put him in the Ergo and he's sound asleep in five minutes.  I call the kids up at 9:00 and our school day begins.

10:10am - We take a quick break so I can switch laundry and put the bread in the oven.  When I return, the boys are wrestling - like always.


10:25am - Back to work.  We read about George Washington in history, then math for all and reading for J and S.  After some tears and "Mama, it's just SO hard", I'm online looking for something to help.  I suspect we have another one with dyslexia and while that hurts my heart, I'm thankful I have a bit of experience under my belt.


11:30am - Lunch time!  We all have various things with the fresh bread: I have chicken salad, D makes a grilled cheese and the others eat it with strawberry jam.

12:00pm - Quiet hour.  I break my rule of "no chores" and fold laundry and make my bed instead.  At 12:45, I get an email about M's standardized test results.  We nervously log in and...he did great!  A relief for both of us.


1:00pm - I agree to an hour of screentime.  The isn't typical on weekdays, but I'm loosening up with summer on the horizon and they're taking full advantage of it, hah.  Some play on the XBox and others watch TV.  I take a look at my to-do list (I'm working on a prototype to make into a notepad for myself) and decide to tackle the new religious book.  I search my stacks and choose Mornings with Saint Therese.  I also start packaging up the baby shower gift and send an email to my cousin.

1:50pm - Mark calls on his way home.  We chat a few minutes.


2:15pm - Screens are off and everyone is upstairs to help make beds and tidy their rooms.  I find a disaster in the little boys' room - clothes everywhere!  This is what happens when they aren't supervised during school.

2:25pm - Mark is home!  We all have a snack of salt and pepper pistachios and more popcorn.

3:00pm - I retreat to my room to ice my leg and eat chocolate.  I post my daily school photo on Instagram and scroll a little.  I love seeing all of the Mother's Day pictures.


3:30pm - The sun finally comes out, so we all play outside for half an hour.  The kids ride bikes and play baseball while I push the baby in the stroller.  It is hot and sticky, so we go back inside before everyone gets sweaty.  Note to self: this summer, head outside right after breakfast so you don't melt.

4:00pm - I start on dinner.  Tonight we're having roasted chicken thighs and a bunch of sides leftover from Mother's Day lunch yesterday.  While the chicken is in the oven, I hop in the shower.  After, I find three little monkeys making "a nest" with my bed pillows.  I take a video for today's "one second a day".  Fun fact: I haven't missed a single day since we moved here last summer!


5:00pm - Dinner's ready!

5:30pm - While the kids clean up the kitchen, I put the little boys in the bathtub and check out the new curriculum guides that arrived in the mail.  By 5:45, a huge thunderstorm comes out of nowhere.  We have a few minor tree branches fall.

6:30pm - The storm has died down, so Mark and the boys decide at the last minute to still head out for Trail Life.  I put on a movie for the littles and sit down to start writing this post.  20 minutes later, I get a text from Mark saying that the road to town is blocked with fallen trees and they have to turn around.

7:10pm - They arrive home safely, but the boys are bummed.  I suggest a bowl of ice cream - it's not the same as seeing friends, but it's yummy!  


7:30pm - The kids head upstairs to play quietly and read for an hour. The little ones get a story and are tucked in.  I nurse the baby to sleep and then crash into bed.  I finish this post, read until my eyelids get heavy and I'm sure I'll be sound asleep by 9:30 or 10:00.  It was a good, long, productive day.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

No.118: Highs and Lows // May 2018

I'm having a bit of writer's block lately, so how 'bout a random assortment of this week's highs and lows?

HIGH // RUNNING 
Geez, I love running.  I need to run.  My introverted self is so thankful for those 30(ish) minutes of peace!  I've been surprised to discover that I get a lot of creative ideas while I run, which is both exciting and frustrating.  (I panic that I'm going to forget them, so I scramble for pen and paper the second I'm finished, hah!  #oldlady)  Running is also the best time to listen to podcasts, so that's been a fun addition to my life too.  Tell me your favorites!

HIGH // WATCHING FIVE TINY BABY BIRDS 
If my forgetfulness didn't solidify the fact that I'm an old lady, my bird-watching habits certainly do!  The baby birds on our front porch fan hatched last week and I have religiously checked in on them every day since.  New life is so amazing.

LOW // SMOOSHED BANANA IN THE LIVING ROOM RUG
Alternatively titled, "Why We Can't Have Nice Things."  How in the world did it get there?  How long has it been there?

HIGH // SENDING POSTCARDS

I just finished another batch of postcards for my Springtime Postcard Project.  I really enjoy addressing them and learning about cities I've never heard of all around the United States.  (Makes me want to plot them on a map!)
P.S. I still have over ten spots left if you're interested - I'd love to send you one!

HIGH // TODDLERS IN SUMMER CLOTHES
Those bare legs!  Those little feet in little sandals!

LOW // STINKBUGS
I sound more than a little crazy, but stinkbugs are my nemesis.  After finding one crawling on my bed one night - and then getting the willies and a horrible night sleep after! - I've become obsessed with eradicating them from the house.  I think I've figured out their entry point, but need a bit more surveillance.  See?  Crazy.   

HIGH // CHICKEN SALAD
I made my go-to chicken salad for lunches this week and it is so good.  Easy to make and it has tons of protein.  I've been eating it open-faced on a piece of bread (even better if it's homemade) or just in a bowl by itself.  I may have to make a double batch next time because it only lasted half the week.

HIGH // A PLAYDATE WITH FRIENDS
We went to a playdate on Tuesday and it was so nice to chat with another adult about everything from homeschooling to family issues to home decor.  So thankful for friendship.

LOW // MODELING CLAY SMEARED INTO MY TEXTURED WALLS
My THREE-YEAR-OLD.  Why???  I'm still trying to figure out the best way to remove it (the texture walls are just destroying everything from a dishtowel to a Magic Eraser) so that loveliness is there to stay for awhile. 

HIGH // KIDS CUPS IN RAINBOW ORDER
I may or may not line them all up when the kids aren't looking.

HIGH // BRICK EDGING FOR OUR FRONT FLOWER BEDS ARE GOING IN NEXT WEEK! 
Barring any rain, our brick flowerbeds are being installed next week.  I am so excited!  If you need me, I'll be scrolling Pinterest for plant ideas.

Monday, May 7, 2018

No.117: Intentions for the Beginning of May


After months and months of cold weather and brown everything, it seems like it's all coming alive overnight!  Our grass is green, the trees are blooming and animals are everywhere!  The nest we've been watching on our front porch fan is now filled with five itty-bitty baby birds.  Like any season, there are pros and cons to spring (major cons = seasonal allergies, cars caked in yellow pollen and ant invasions by the side door), but I definitely have a new appreciation this year.  He makes all things new. 


INTENTIONS FOR THE BEGINNING OF MAY

  • WATER - drink lots and lots of it
  • add a consistent strength training day to my weekly exercise load
  • find two new podcasts to listen to while running
  • mail in the kids' finished standardized testing
  • make a list of the remaining assignments/readings for the last few weeks of school
  • plan a day with my mom
  • buy a succulent (100LT #48) and some herbs for the kitchen window
  • look into getting an ice cream maker
  • renew library cards
  • finish reading Dorothy Day's biography (100LT #82)
  • read two books sitting on my nightstand
  • decide on new summer sandals, one casual pair and one for church 
  • buy sandals for P
  • make oobleck with Sophie (100LT #93)
  • buy tiny hooks - I need to get to Home Depot!
  • string lights throughout the back porch
  • borrow a power washer and start prepping the front porch for staining

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!
  • start running at least three times a week (so happy about this!  I'm only averaging about 2-3 miles at a time and at a snail's pace, but I love it anyway)
  • try making bulletproof coffee (it was okay, but I thought it tasted way too much like liquid butter than coffee)
  • choose a baby gift for my cousin's shower
  • buy a baptism gift for a friend (I got one of these adorable mini rosaries)
  • buy tiny hooks 
  • string lights throughout the back porch
  • do a science experiment with Sophie (we did the egg-in-a-bottle experiment - she loved it!)
  • 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 (didn't finish, but made a lot of progress in my Jackson Pollock book)
  • pick a date for a field trip (the kids went with Mark to "Take Your Child to Work Day" - a trip to Jamestown is coming soon!)
  • recommit to weaning P - make a plan and stay strong! (decided to "officially" start in May - he is SO stubborn, so this is going to be tricky)
  • start dreaming and sketching our garden for next year

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

Thursday, May 3, 2018

No.116: New Habits, Little by Little: Cooking at Home (April 2018)


This was such a weird month of dinners... for whatever reason, I fell out of my routine and that made me unravel a bit, hah!  I resorted to making a bunch of easy favorites and very few new Pinterest recipes.  I guess the lesson here is that dinner doesn't always need to be fancy.  Sometimes dinner can be a complicated new dish and sometimes it's just deli meat on homemade bread.  Both fill our bellies and both are good.   

Week 40 (cont.):
Sunday, April 1: Easter! ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, brussels sprouts, rolls, blueberry pie
Monday, April 2: bacon wrapped mozzarella pesto stuffed chicken
Tuesday, April 3: "the best damn lasagna on earth" (maybe not the best, but definitely good)
Wednesday, April 4: Spring Break Surprise! Chickfila for dinner and our local ice cream place for dessert
Thursday, April 5: garlic parmesan chicken tenders and salad
Friday, April 6: a super random and "healthy" dinner of popcorn and roasted marshmallows...TGIF!

Week 41:
Saturday, April 7: chicken tacos with homemade tortillas
Sunday, April 8: ham sandwiches with homemade bread
Monday, April 9: whole chicken with potatoes
Tuesday, April 10: "chicken pot pie for the busy mama"
Wednesday, April 11: tacos
Thursday, April 12: roasted chicken thighs, rice and broccoli
Friday, April 13: Mark surprised us with Chickfila!

Week 42:
Saturday, April 14: brats and homemade french fries
Sunday, April 15: pulled pork tacos with homemade pico de gallo
Monday, April 16: leftovers
Tuesday, April 17: skillet lasagna
Wednesday, April 18: leftover pork, rice and broccoli
Thursday, April 19: Ugandan egg rolex
Friday, April 20: sushi

Week 43:
Saturday, April 21: pizza to celebrate Mom's birthday!
Sunday, April 22: Mark's homemade pasta with meat sauce
Monday, April 23: Refrigerator Clean-out Night
Tuesday, April 24: beans and rice
Wednesday, April 25: beef stroganoff over egg noodles, salad
Thursday, April 26: chicken and rice bowls
Friday, April 27: bean and cheese burritos

Week 44:
Saturday, April 28: leftovers
Sunday, April 29: brats, coleslaw, baked beans, and fruit salad
Monday, April 30: roasted chicken thighs, rice and broccoli
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