Friday, August 31, 2018

No.174: What I Learned in August

Linking up with Kelly's Quick Takes!

I know that I'm the odd man out here, but I am just over summer.  We have had a crazy season: so.much.rain followed by sticky hot humidity.  Especially with the beginning of the school year, I'm ready for crisp mornings and cute sweaters.

I've been on a bit of a true crime kick this summer.  Many aspects of this genre interest me, but my latest fascination has been false confessions.  Two things that address this issue: the Netflix documentary "The Confession Tapes" and the book The Innocent Man.  It's scary to think that under great duress, you can be broken enough to say anything and that action could result in life in prison - or worse!  I'm not anti-police department by any means, but I do think that with great power comes great responsibility.  We can do better.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and then left feeling like you just weren't seen or heard?  I had one this month and it wrecked me.  As an introvert, I'm somewhat used to the flippant comments people make about me and how my behavior is perceived, but this one stung. 

According to this article, they're recommending that plastic cups and plates not go in the dishwasher.
I knew that microwaving plastic containers was a no-no, but never thought about this.  The kids use plastic plates all the time!  I think we'll just start slowly transitioning to regular (breakable) plates because the idea of hand-washing everything after every meal sounds exhausting. #firstworldproblems

I already knew this, but this month brought a bigger realization.  Whether you teach in a public school, private school or even in your own home, the amount of love, time, and resources you pour into your students is astronomical.  What a gift it is for children to learn from such dedicated educators.

And another article about how I'm endangering myself and my family: a large number of cereals, granola bars and instant oats were found to contain potentially dangerous amounts of the main ingredient in weed killer.  WHAT?!  Thanks a lot, Cheerios and Quaker oats.

My heart hurts for the victims and the church I love so much.
P.S. Years ago, I signed up to spiritually adopt a priest.  Every year, you receive the name of a different priest to pray for and shamefully, I would only sporadically remember to include him in my prayers.  As scandal after scandal came to light this month, I felt a sudden urgency to resurrect that prayer card I had carelessly tucked away.  I haven't missed a day since.  As a mother, this part of the prayer is especially powerful to me:
"Mother of all priests, intercede also for those endangered and straying priests who no longer clearly see the path and the goal, and seek another direction according to their personal biases.  No mother abandons her child when it is in danger.  Oh that you, too, would send your holy Angels with such a sharp warning that they cannot fail to hear it." (emphasis mine)
Mamas don't mess around.

Your turn!  What did you learn this month?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

No.173: My Latest Reads // August

This post contains affiliate links.

THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone
My Rating: ★★

The best hiding spots are not the most hidden; they’re merely the least searched. 

I read and enjoyed one of Chris Pavone's books years ago, so I was excited when The Expats came off the hold list at the library.  A story about a former CIA agent turned stay-at-home mom and the secrets that find her?  Sign me up!  After reading, though, I was a little disappointed.  It read more like a travelogue than a spy thriller, the story line was sometimes hard to follow and I wasn't invested in any of the characters.  I was happy to close the book and move on.  Just okay for me.  I liked Pavone's The Travelers way better.

My Rating: ★★

"Nothing changes, Vasya. Things are, or they are not. Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than as you willed it.” (81%)

Another one from the library!  The Bear and the Nightingale is a young adult fantasy, which is a genre I rarely read, but I'm all about expanding my horizons and wanted to give it a shot.  The story is set in fairy tale-like Medieval Russia and is filled with Russian folklore.  There's demons and spirits and even a vampire, so if that's your jam, you'll love this book.  Personally, I have a hard time with that stuff!  (The demons totally creep me out, which I know is ironic given my love for true crime novels.)  A solid three stars.

My Rating: ★★

“God help us, if ever in this great country we turn our heads while people who have not had fair trials are executed…” -Judge Frank Howell Seay

The Innocent Man is a true crime story about a man sent to death row for a crime he did not commit.  It was an interesting book, but long and sometimes tedious.  After finishing, I read some reviews on Goodreads and it seems Grisham may have embellished some of the facts to make the prosecution look worse. Totally a "he said/he said" moment, but it does give the book a little less credibility.

My Rating: ★★

It's important to pray quietly and let the sufferings of Jesus sink deeply into your soul, and to match some aspect of the Passion with your own sufferings and sorrows.  Whether your suffering be great or small, whether the catastrophe is something that will pass or a horror that has permanent effects, every one of us can sit down and say with Jesus, "I am so grateful that you are here with me." (p.59-60)

We who believe in Divine Providence, in life after death, in salvation and resurrection; we, of all people, when faced with catastrophe, must go on with courage, faith, and hope.  We must make things different.  We must not remain fixed in the grief of the past, but move on to doing good and making things better in the future.  The wound of sorrow will always be there.  We don't want it to go away.  We want the wound to heal and scar.  We can work while the scar exists." (p.70)

With all the horrible things talked about in the Church right now, I felt like it was an appropriate time to pull this book off the shelf.  While it doesn't necessarily address the issue at hand, Fr. Benedict had many wise things to say about suffering that were helpful.

STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel
My Rating: ★★

She was thinking about the way she’d always taken for granted that the world had certain people in it, either central to her days or unseen and infrequently thought of. How without any one of these people the world is a subtly but unmistakably altered place, the dial turned just one or two degrees. (66%)

Post-apocalyptic science fiction isn't my go-to genre, but after hearing so much buzz for this book over the years, I decided to give it a shot. was good!  In hindsight, though, after seeing how many people love it, I don't think I really got it.  One positive: I had fresh eyes filled with gratitude for the modern conveniences we take for granted.

My Rating: ★★
Not all of the white working class struggles. I knew even as a child that there were two separate sets of mores and social pressures. My grandparents embodied one type: old-fashioned, quietly faithful, self-reliant, hardworking. My mother and, increasingly, the entire neighborhood embodied another: consumerist, isolated, angry, distrustful. (58%)

It was in the Marine Corps where I first ordered grown men to do a job and watched them listen; where I learned that leadership depended far more on earning the respect of your subordinates than on bossing them around; where I discovered how to earn that respect; and where I saw that men and women of different social classes and races could work as a team and bond like family. It was the Marine Corps that first gave me an opportunity to truly fail, made me take that opportunity, and then, when I did fail, gave me another chance anyway. (68%)

Another one off the hold list at the library!  There was a lot of talk about Hillbilly Elegy the last few years and you know how much I enjoy a good memoir.  His reflections on his childhood trauma in Appalachia and how that affected relationships as an adult was really interesting.  Overall, I thought the book was insightful and gave me a lot to think about. 



Books Read: 49
Fiction: 27  // Non-Fiction: 22
Kindle Books: 30  // Paper Books: 19
Original 2018 books "to-read" total on Goodreads: 443 // Current "to-read" total: 427

Monday, August 27, 2018

No.172: Five August Favorites (A Link-Up!)

This post contains affiliate links.

Welcome to the Five Favorites linkup!  Here are five of my favorite things this month:

Our favorite weekday meal this summer has been garlic-parmesan veggies and sausage.  The majority of the work is just chopping, which I find strangely calming.  Generally inexpensive and a great way to use up vegetables that are going bad.  I usually make two sheet pans full and a big pot of rice and it feeds my crew with a tiny bit leftover for Mark's lunch.

My oldest started serving at Mass and needed black pants, black socks and black shoes.  He is growing like crazy, so instead of searching multiple stores, we decided to try out Prime Wardrobe.  I chose three pairs of pants (in different brands because I wasn't sure what would fit him well), a package of socks and black dress shoes.  When the box came, he tried everything on, picked his favorites and we sent the rest back to Amazon.  So easy and a lifesaver for this busy mama. 

Since I'm back to selling things online, I pulled out my trusty postage scale this month.  I've had the same one for years and years and it is so handy.  You can purchase shipping from home through USPS and even have them pick up your packages too.  No need to drag six kids to the post office!

Mark just recommended this podcast to me, so I've been catching up during my runs.  Each episode is a handful of Q&As sent in by listeners and it's another interesting and entertaining way to learn about the faith.  I'm really enjoying it and the way Fr. Josh randomly breaks into song like he lives in a musical?  So funny and awesome.

Ever since he could walk, we've always put P in soft moccassins.  I recently pulled out some of the big boys' outgrown sneakers for him to wear and oh man, you'd think he was wearing platform shoes!  He wouldn't walk naturally and it was hilariously pathetic.  I finally caved and bought him a pair of barefoot-like sneakers and all is well in the world again.


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, August 24, 2018

No.171: Our Farmhouse Schoolhouse in Photos (Week 01)

Every year around this time, I get a twinge of anxiety.  All of the doubts come flying and I wonder: Did I make the right decision?  Is this going to work for all of them?  Am I screwing them up for life?  Public school or homeschool, the agonizing questions are always the same.

We jumped back into school this week and the transition was incredibly easy.  The kids were eager and the younger ones couldn't get enough.  They were asking for more and more!  Our calendar is filling up with co-op, CCD, Trail Life, and youth group.  What a gift it is to begin a new school year knowing we're exactly where we're supposed to be.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

No.170: Getting Gazelle Intense // Side Hustles Edition

This post contains affiliate links.

In August, I focused on a few "side hustles," making a little money on the side that could be thrown on debt.  I obviously won't be getting rich off these things, but every little bit helps!  And bonus: I gave a bunch of unused items a new home in the process.

It will be birthday season around here starting in September and I've started purchasing gifts.  Ebates is helping!  For example, I found a princess set for Sophia on the Playmobil website and they had 2.5% back through Ebates.  Almost $1 back on something I would have purchased anyway!  Total cash back (to date) coming soon: $6.
Quick tip: be sure to install the Ebates button in your browser; it automatically will tell you when a store participates in the program!  So helpful.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook yard sale sites, but decided to give it another shot.  I haven't had much luck, but I did manage to sell a brand new grill cover in an easy transaction at the local gas station.  Final profit: $10

3 // EBAY
Ebay is the place to sell all of those random things you don't know what to do with, but you know have some worth.  I posted some homeschooling books we aren't using as well as some out-of-print Heather Ross fabric I've hoarded and never used.  90% sold in the first week.  Final profit: $107

Kidizen is a buying/selling app for children's clothes, toys and maternity wear.  I posted and sold a backpack.  Next up to list are a few things P has outgrown.  Final profit: $13
P.S. If you sign up with my link, you get $5 off your first purchase!

Poshmark is another buying/selling app, mostly for men and women's clothing although there are kids clothes for sale too.  I listed a handful of pieces from my closet, plus a few things I found on super sale while out shopping.  I've had so much fun with this one!  Final profit: $120
P.S. If you sign up with code BWFARMHOUSE you get $5 off your first order!

Do you have any side hustles on your debt-free journey?  I'd love to hear your experiences, tips and tricks!

Monday, August 20, 2018

No.169: Intentions for the End of August

It seemed wrong not to post something in light of what's happening in the Church right now, but articulate words have escaped me.  This Facebook post by Stephen Lenahan has made its way around my circles and while I don't personally know him, he expressed much of what I've been feeling the past week:
To all my non-Catholic friends...please pray for your Catholic friends & family!
The most recent revelations of horrific abuse in our Church are gut wrenching. Right now, we don’t want to have to explain our faith or our religion because we ourselves are extremely vulnerable and raw. And most of us are asking the same questions you are when seeing headlines. Thousands have been physically violated. Some of us are friends with or related to victims. Millions of us have been spiritually violated by the scandal of it all. We are enraged at those who were supposed to shepherd us. We are devastated for the victims. And now we will have to try to root out the filth and rot that has been lurking in the shadows of our hierarchy since they failed in doing so 15 years ago.
You might ask...why don’t you just find a new church/home and be done with it? But it’s not that simple for us. Home is where the heart is and our hearts are devoted to the sacraments, scripture, and tradition we hold dear because they are where we encounter a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Right now our spiritual home and our hearts are broken. We know our Church to be one that endures the sins of the ages and triumphs for the sake of Christ in spite of the broken humanity that surrounds us. Right now we are trying to figure out how to be like the saints who faced evils in centuries past...but it is gut wrenching and this is why we need your support!
Thank God, like many of you, our hope is in Jesus Christ...not clerics...and so we know that better days are ahead but first we have to endure repentance, shame, anger, extreme reform, and hopefully justice! It will be a purge long overdue but it will leave our Church better than what we inherited. So please...pray for us, pray WITH us, and support us in this uphill battle.
To my Catholic family & friends...saddle up y’all! It’s time to take back our Church and it ain’t going to be easy. No more apathetic Catholics. No more lukewarm Catholics. No more “cafeteria Catholics.” Entrench yourself in prayer and scripture. And be bold in your parishes and dioceses!

“From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members...And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.” - Ratzinger in 1969 German Radio Broadcast


  • iron out our new routine as the school year begins
  • make sure we have everything we need for co-op
  • buy new sneakers for M and S
  • schedule Sophie's Kindergarten immunizations
  • go through the kids' fall clothes and see what needs to be tossed/purchased
  • replace dryer balls
  • start purchasing birthday gifts for TJ and S
  • weed and mulch the front flower beds
  • write a snail-mail letter
  • research possible places to source inventory for Poshmark
  • commit to 40 days of prayer and fasting for the victims of abuse and the healing of the Church (starts on August 22)


    If you're reading on your phone or in a reader, be sure to click over to see what I checked off the list!
    • buy the last supplies needed for school
    • write the first six weeks of lesson plans
    • order two lunchboxes for S and TJ (for co-op) (snagged them for 50% off during Lands End's big sale!)
    • buy new sneakers for M and S
    • schedule Sophie's Kindergarten immunizations
    • finally finish my Dorothy Day book (no time yet - I've had a steady stream of library holds for almost two months now!)
    • list five items on Poshmark
    • work on the piecing of my "Memere quilt"
    • Draino the bathroom sink
    • hang art in the living room
    • book a photography session for family photos in the fall (we haven't had photos done since TJ was a year old - WAY overdue!)
    • download the Duolingo app and make a plan to review a little Spanish daily (I'm trying to do at least one lesson every evening before bed...haven't missed a day so far!)
    • sign up to get on the email list for our church's HOOPS (Helping Our Own Parishioners) program

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

    Thursday, August 16, 2018

    No.168: Summertime Wins

    We had a wonderfully lazy summer...or so I thought.  For the majority of the last three months, I stayed off of social media.  I was blissfully unaware of what the rest of the world was doing!  I focused on my family and my local community and it was so good.  But with school around the corner, I dusted off my Instagram account, scrolled to catch up, and quickly became riddled with guilt.

    Families were going on amazing trips.  Homeschool moms were schooling through the summer.  Ladies were baking and crafting and just generally being productive and awesome.

    Our summer was nowhere near that exciting.  And in just a few scrolls, our wonderfully lazy summer suddenly seemed boring and lame.  Why does social media have the power to make you feel like you aren't enough?  After a significant amount of internal scolding, I decided to pull myself out of that ridiculousness and make a list of the things I did do.  Here's my humble list of summertime wins for 2018:

    + The kids and I learned how to make strawberry jam from scratch with my mom

    + I started baking sourdough bread

    + Mark and I went on a date (!!), the first time in over a year

    + We roasted marshmallows at dusk

    + I painted the front and side doors and finished half of the shutters

    + We hosted friends and family for playdates and celebrations

    + I flew on an airplane alone and spent a long weekend with extended family and my new baby cousin

    + We bought an ice cream maker and made our own dessert

    + I finally finished the paint touch-ups in the living room

    + We surprised the kids with an adventure to the Metro Richmond Zoo and Zaxby's

    + I went through my Big White Farmhouse office, organized and gave away things, and brought the bookcase up to the school room

    + We hung twinkling lights on the back porch and installed a dinner bell

    + I ran consistently and started making significant progress on my speed and endurance

    + We played baseball and football and ultimate frisbee in the front yard

    + I read 13 books

    + We committed to hardcore debt reduction and were able to pay off over $1,000

    + I started a little reselling side business that's proving to be fun and lucrative

    + We laughed and played and enjoyed each other's company

    Turns out that our simple summer wasn't so bad after all.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2018

    No.167: Our 2018-2019 Homeschool Plan: Term One

    This post contains affiliate links.

    And just like that, the school year is upon us again!  Charlotte Mason once said, "And all the time we have books, books teeming with ideas fresh from the minds of thinkers upon every subject to which we can wish to introduce children."  This is the feast of ideas for the first twelve weeks:


    We are continuing this program from last year.  I haven't decided yet, but we probably could fill an entire school year just on WWII to current day.  There's so much to learn!
    We're finishing up the last few books in American History before moving onto Western Expansion.
    Books and Field Trips:


    • J: Explode the Code Level 2.5 and Level 3 (this is largely review, but we're working on his confidence)
    • S: Get Ready for the Code A & Get Set for the Code B
    • S: ABC See, Hear, Do
    • tons and tons of picture books

    All of the kids will have their primary science curriculum through co-op.  We'll supplement with extra reading and/or activities at home.

    The three big boys will also be attending religious education at our parish.

    Friday, August 10, 2018

    No.166: Our Extraordinary Ordinary Life // August 2018 Edition

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

    Highlights from Thursday, August 9, 2018:

    Such a typical lazy summer day at home.  After breakfast, we played outside for a quick second before it became blazing hot and humid.  (The high was technically only 88°, but the real feel was more like mid-90s!)  The rest of the day included a tempo run, sourdough bread for lunch, and a little lesson planning during naptime.  We did Refrigerator Clean-Out Night for dinner and sourdough waffles with vanilla ice cream on top for dessert.  It was a good day.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2018

    No.165: 100 Little Things, Round Five

    Today's an exciting day - it's my favorite post of the summer! 

    This is my fifth round of 100 Little Things, a huge inspirational list that helps me be intentional with my time and resources.  The tasks on this list, like always, are a mix of silly things and important things. They are things that really need to get done and things that just sound like fun.  They are things I'd like to do and things I really should do.  They are things that excite me and things that scare me.  I'm positive I won't check off all 100 things before next August (in fact, I'm only averaging around 40-45 each year) but completion really isn't the goal.  I enjoy the process as much as reaching the finish line. 

    Here's the list for August 2018-July 2019:

    1. Learn how to grill a steak
    2. Make homemade vanilla extract
    3. Bake a two-layered cake
    4. Bake three new kinds of cookies
    5. Buy a proofing basket
    6. Start a weekly "soup night" in the fall/winter
    7. Make two new flavors of homemade ice cream
    8. Make five recipes from my sourdough cookbook
    9. Make a new recipe from Run Fast, Eat Slow
    10. Go through the millions of recipe printouts and use or toss
    11. Take a manual photography class
    12. Learn how to photograph low light interiors correctly
    13. Make a quilt using Memere's fabric
    14. Make a "little things" notepad (and maybe sell it?)
    15. Make a wreath with materials from the yard
    16. Make a pinata with the kids
    17. Create a photobook with the Instagram photos of our 2017-18 school year
    18. Complete a #100dayproject
    19. Write at least one snail mail letter monthly
    20. Mail five packages, just because
    21. Make a minibook
    22. Complete another December Daily project
    23. Finish a cross-stitch project
    24. Finally pay off the car
    25. Start a new car fund
    26. Pay off three student loans
    27. Read three finance books
    28. Check out Aldi
    29. Have professional family photos taken
    30. Read Kristin Lavransdatter
    31. Read Don Quixote
    32. Finish my "Into the Depths of Catholicism" reading challenge
    33. Read the entire Bible in a year
    34. Finish the Jackson Pollock biography
    35. Start reading a few books from the doula reading list
    36. Blog everyday for a month
    37. Invite someone to guest post
    38. Finally work on the tabs in my header
    39. Create a "homeschool favorites" page
    40. Decide if I want to upgrade the blog to a ".com"
    41. Buy a new pair of jeans (or two)
    42. Invest in a piece of clothing from Everlane
    43. Get a haircut
    44. Organize my closet
    45. Get an updated glasses prescription
    46. Order new glasses
    47. Go for a yearly physical
    48. Measure for new (non-nursing) bras
    49. Learn about stocks and investments
    50. Identify the trees in our backyard
    51. Plant shrubs in the front flower beds
    52. Have the first floor painted
    53. Install a porch swing
    54. Hang a gallery wall of black and white family photos in the living room
    55. Hang a gallery wall of kids art in the basement stairwell
    56. Buy two more chairs for the dining room table
    57. Find a lamp for the hallway console table
    58. Hang a curtain in the laundry room
    59. Reseal our driveway
    60. Stain the front porch
    61. Replace the outdoor lanterns
    62. Finish our emergency kit closet before winter
    63. Put a Mary statue in the garden
    64. Decide where we want to install a garden on the property
    65. Grow cucumbers
    66. Grow tomatoes
    67. Plant wildflowers
    68. Buy new dryer balls
    69. Paint Sophia's room
    70. Paint TJ & P's room
    71. Paint the school room
    72. Save up for a new sectional
    73. Save up for two new chairs for the living room
    74. Buy a new mattress and set up the guest room
    75. Remove remaining dead trees in the front yard
    76. Propagate my Christmas cactus in a new planter
    77. Get the generator serviced
    78. Beat my personal best 5K time
    79. Reach the halfway point on the Amerithon Challenge
    80. Run the Turkey Trot again and beat my first time
    81. Run the Historic Half again and beat my first time
    82. Complete a month-long "running streak" challenge
    83. Do a pullup
    84. Try a shampoo bar
    85. Start a compost pile
    86. Sew a linen bag to hold sourdough loaves
    87. Sew some fabric napkins
    88. Make my own laundry detergent
    89. Bring Sophie for her K immunizations
    90. Adopt a dog
    91. Potty train P
    92. Give some of the baby clothes away to someone who needs them
    93. Go see fireworks
    94. See an outdoor movie
    95. Help place Christmas wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery
    96. Attend the local Christmas parade
    97. Go on a date with Mark quarterly
    98. Visit Jamestown
    99. Go on a cousins weekend trip
    100. Try out the local farmer's market

    Tuesday, August 7, 2018

    No.164: Highs and Lows // August 2018

    a random assortment of this month's highs and lows

    We just had Virginia's tax-free weekend for school supplies and I stocked up on crayons, colored pencils and a few things the kids will need for co-op.  Sophie is beyond excited about her very own pencil box full of supplies and has been begging me to start school early.  If only my big boys had the same enthusiasm, hah!

    I'll call this a high even though it's really not that extreme.  After months and months of hovering at the same weight, or (worse!) creeping up and up and up, the scale has finally taken a downward direction.  I'm only talking 2-3 pounds, but it's something!

    Mark was about to leave for work when he found that one of his tires was flat.  Thankfully, the puncture was tiny and the mechanic was able to patch it, but he also mentioned that it may be time to replace all four tires soon. ($$$)  This is already a very full season for budgeting, so it hurt a little to add this to the list.

    I've been making a little extra money selling unneeded items on various websites and apps. (Full details will be coming in my monthly debt update post later this month.)  I'm thankful to get rid of things collecting dust, I earn a little extra cash to pay for things like new tires, and it gives me a teeny entrepreneurial rush again.  Win/win/win.

    I am all about simple lunches this summer.  My current favorite is sourdough bread fresh from the oven, a bit of ham, cheddar cheese and tomato.  So delicious.

    We almost made it through the entire Mass last week without having to take out either of the little boys!  I always say that ages 1-3 are the hardest stage for church behavior - so many wiggles and wanting to tell me a story and asking for a snack and having to pee, etc etc etc!  Mark and I often feel like we've run a marathon afterward, so it was such a nice reprieve to spend three-quarters actually sitting in the pew.

    We had been without hot water for about two weeks.  A plumber came out to look at the water heater, confidently assured us that he fixed it, and....he was wrong.  A co-worker came two days later, spent 20 minutes poking around and declared that he didn't know what the problem was.  We called a new company who sent a guy out yesterday and thankfully, he easily fixed the problem!  I've never been so thankful for a hot shower!

    Monday, August 6, 2018

    No.163: Intentions for the Beginning of August

    Two Sundays ago at Mass, my priest reflected on something his sister (a journalist for many years) mentioned to him while he was home on vacation.  She's noticed that younger generations are good at protesting and telling politicians what changes need to be made, but many don't roll up their sleeves and put in the work.  Obviously this is just one opinion and there are many exceptions to the contrary, but I've thought about that story and my own actions ever since.  Am I someone who adds to the noise without doing my part?

    I don't want to speak without action, but I also must be content in the vocation I've been given.  I may not be able to hop on a plane to serve across the United States or in foreign countries.  But maybe change doesn't have to be so extravagant.  Change begins with relationship; it begins with grace and love and truth.  I may not solve the immigration crisis or end world hunger, but I can practice my Spanish in order to speak warmly to immigrant families in my community.  I can add a few extra items to my grocery cart to bring to the food bank.  Even tiny, little ripples can make a difference.


    • buy the last supplies needed for school
    • write the first six weeks of lesson plans
    • order two lunchboxes for S and TJ (for co-op)
    • buy new sneakers for M and S
    • schedule Sophie's Kindergarten immunizations
    • finally finish my Dorothy Day book (fingers crossed for a break in library holds!)
    • list five items on Poshmark
    • work on the piecing of my "Memere quilt"
    • Draino the bathroom sink
    • hang art in the living room
    • book a photography session for family photos in the fall
    • download the Duolingo app and make a plan to review a little Spanish daily 
    • sign up to get on the email list for our church's HOOPS (Helping Our Own Parishioners) program

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

    Friday, August 3, 2018

    No.162: What I Learned in July

    This post contains affiliate links.  Linking up with Kelly's Quick Takes!

    I've been either pregnant or nursing since 2006 and this is the first time I've ever been neither.  Nobody warned me that there would be so many physical symptoms post-weaning!  Oh man, it's been crazy: I had headaches, tiredness, mood swings, ridiculous acne, minor anxiety...I've been at the mercy of my hormones and had to hold on tight to the ride!  It took a little over three weeks, but I've finally started to feel more like myself again.

    Last year, I tried Primal Pit Paste and it made my underarms raw and red.  I kept using it for awhile, hoping it was just a "detox" period, but never saw an improvement.  I chalked it up to the fact that maybe I was sensitive to the baking soda?  Fast forward to this month when I was in the market for a new deodorant and thought maybe I'd try a natural version again.  This time, I went with Tom's of Maine and while I didn't get any itchy redness, I stunk.  Like high school locker room gross.  So I'm back to the drawing board!  Frustrating.

    Seeing June's Strawberry Moon on the calendar sent me on a Googling rabbit trail that led to the Farmer's Almanac.  According to the website,
    Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their full moon names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the full Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names.
    Fun fact: July's full moon is known as Full Buck Moon because this is normally when a buck's new antlers push out of their foreheads  It is also sometimes called Full Thunder Moon because of the frequent thunderstorms around this time of year.

    I have lived on the East Coast for most of my life and been to the ocean many times, but shamefully never knew what a rip current looked like!  This photo made its way around Facebook and I'm so thankful it did.  The more you know...

    I read Killers of the Flower Moon about the Osage Tribe early in July and regretfully realized that my knowledge in this area is lacking.  I want to change this!  I've just added Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Empire of the Summer Moon to my hold list at the library. 

    I've never actually done this, but apparently they clog up the sorting machines and employees then have to physically get up there and pull them out.

    The first few months postpartum are such an exhausting, fragile, and emotionally raw time.  Because of my personal experiences with my own babies, I am especially passionate about this, although I've never really known what to do with that passion.  Helping my cousin with her new baby sparked something unexpected in me.  It was an honor to give her an extra hand, a few tips and tricks, and a little extra sleep.  Maybe being a postpartum doula is in my future someday?

    What did you learn this month? 

    Thursday, August 2, 2018

    No.161: New Habits, Little by Little: Cooking at Home (July 2018)

    July was a full month of holidays and travel.  Looking down the list, I had to laugh at the amount of pizza I ate.  It's a little excessive, but really, is there anything better than a fresh from the oven slice of cheesy goodness?  I don't think so.

    Week 53 (cont.):
    Sunday, July 1: pork tenderloin, rice and broccoli
    Monday, July 2: meatball subs
    Tuesday, July 3: brats, chips and fruit salad
    Wednesday, July 4: Independence Day! pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, Mark's panko mac and cheese, watermelon, beans, with a cookie cake and rice krispie treats for dessert
    Thursday, July 5: breakfast for dinner - sourdough waffles, eggs, bacon and watermelon
    Friday, July 6: beans and rice kielbasa skillet

    Week 54: 
    Saturday, July 7: pesto chicken, tortellini and veggies
    Sunday, July 8: chicken caesar wraps
    Monday, July 9: pastalaya
    Tuesday, July 10: chicken thighs, rice and broccoli
    Wednesday, July 11: leftovers
    Thursday, July 12: I flew to Maine for a cousin weekend! homemade pizzas
    Friday, July 13: Maine trip. out for pizzas at Flatbread Company

    Week 55:
    Saturday, July 14: Maine trip. burgers from Vandy's
    Sunday, July 15: Wendy's on the way home from the airport
    Monday, July 16: out for pizza because we desperately needed to get to the grocery store!
    Tuesday, July 17: baked ziti
    Wednesday, July 18: Indian chicken curry with rice
    Thursday, July 19: Mark's homemade pepperoni pizza
    Friday, July 20: out for burgers while running errands

    Week 56:
    Saturday, July 21: cheesy enchilada casserole (we used ground beef instead of chicken)
    Sunday, July 22: chicken pot pie soup with homemade biscuits
    Monday, July 23: chicken yakisoba
    Tuesday, July 24: garlic-parmesan veggies and sausage over rice
    Wednesday, July 25: drunken noodles with shrimp
    Thursday, July 26: breakfast for dinner: french toast with yogurt and blueberries
    Friday, July 27: Day Trip to the Zoo! late lunch/early dinner at Zaxby's on the way home from the zoo

    Week 57:
    Saturday, July 28: pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw
    Sunday, July 29: pulled pork nachos using leftovers from yesterday
    Monday, July 30: sheet pan roasted chicken with root vegetables (we doubled this)
    Tuesday, July 31: beans and rice

    Wednesday, August 1, 2018

    No.160: Around Here in August

    This post contains affiliate links.  Linking up with Anne's Currently linkup!

    READING // Another book that came off the hold list, The Bear and the Nightingale.  Not my typical genre, but so far, so good!  I'm also determined to finally finish the Dorothy Day autobiography that's been sitting on my nightstand for months.

    LISTENING // to the kids reminisce about our surprise trip to the zoo last week.  Mark took the day off and we made the two hour trip south to explore the Metro Richmond Zoo.  It was ridiculously hot (real feel was over 98°!) but we had a lot of fun.  Afterward, TJ was sad that he didn't see an elephant, which was literally one of the only animals missing out of over 200!  Can't please them all.

    BAKING // blueberry peach cobbler for the first time this summer.  Next time, I need to make a double batch so I can save a piece for breakfast.  There are too many hungry kids in my house!

    RUNNING // regularly after taking two weeks off due to travel and general busyness.  I'm almost back to steady 10K mileage, which is exciting!  I'm rolling around the idea of running the Turkey Trot again and redeeming myself from last year's horrible performance.  We'll see.

    PAINTING // the living room.  Again.  Embarrassingly, we've left it unfinished ever since the fiasco last February but I finally decided to tackle the touchups.  This time we used as big of a roller as we could find, along with my favorite paintbrush.  Three quarters of a can of paint from Sherwin Williams and it looks...not perfect, but better.  I'm calling it good for now!

    REGISTERING // with Poshmark to try selling a few things.  I've only been on the site a few days and it's already firing me up creatively.  Photographing clothing has quite a learning curve (who knew?!), but I'm working on it!
    Also: You can get $5 off your first purchase on Poshmark with my code: BWFARMHOUSE.

    RECOVERING // from a mini heart attack when P (20 months) fell off the bed and somehow hit his head.  There was so.much.blood and I couldn't figure out how bad the cut was.  Que the worst-case scenarios where he has a massive gash, I have to call 911, etc etc.  Fortunately, I was quickly able to stop the bleeding and it really was just a tiny cut.

    WATCHING // the latest season of Blue Bloods on Netflix with Mark after the kids go to bed.  Love those Reagans.

    LOVING // how S and J have become buddies again this summer.  They're like an old married couple and bicker like the best of them, so this is a welcome change.  Lately, they like to draw together using Art of Kids tutorials.  They'll spend an hour working with Perler beads too.

    PLANNING // for the new school year.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my summer off, but those lessons plans won't write themselves, hah!  Our first day of school is August 20.

    ORDERING // the last few schoolbooks we need before school begins.  I bought this science book and this writing program for M's middle school co-op classes and we're trying out Explode the Code for J and S.

    COUNTING // down the remaining days of summer.  Fall will be here before we know it!
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