Five Things

1. My friends Clint and Harley have started a podcast, The Rthm, where they discuss all things music. They both are passionate about music and have great taste. Give them a listen! You won’t regret it. Listen to them each week on SoundCloud, here.

2. So…the Oscars…how crazy was that? I’m curious, who has watched some of the films that were either nominated or won? I’m waaaay out of the current film loop. Let me know if there is anything I missed that deserves a watch.

3. Oliver got out of bed the other night. Theo and Beatrice were sleeping and Mike was working so I took the opportunity to snuggle with him on the sofa. This kid. He is so cuddly. And ornery. And so, so sweet. I just started talking to him as he settled into the crook of my arms, and at one point I said, “You are such a good boy.” Without missing a beat he said, “You are such a good goil, mommy.” (Goil = girl, pronounced like the goyle in gargoyle, lol). I die.

4. Homeschooling continues to be an ever evolving experiment full of both fun and failure (which is to be expected). I was talking to a wise momma who successfully home schooled her now three adult children and was sharing my struggles of maintaining a schedule with sick kids. She smiled and kindly reminded me that part of the freedom of homeschooling is that I get to be flexible. “Take a break,” she said. “Pick it back up when everyone is feeling better.”

Her words were such an important reminder to me. Duh! Yes! I have the freedom to do what I need to do here. That is why we are homeschooling!

It’s kind of like the saying: If you find yourself in the wrong story, leave.

It’s so easy to get in a routine and just put our nose to the grind and go, never stopping to question if perhaps we aren’t contributing to some of the hard things in our life. Some things are out of our control, absolutely. But SO many other things are completely within our ability to change or chuck out all together. Change may not be easy, but if what you are doing isn’t working for you, the work it would require to change IS SO WORTH IT.

We have more freedom to make those tweaks to our life than we tend to admit. Probably because using that freedom and maintaing that freedom takes work and/or sacrifice. All this to say, sometimes the pressure you are feeling is coming from no one but yourself. At least, I find that to be the case 90% of the time. So cut yourself some slack and just go do what you need to do to make your situation better.

5. I finished the book, Eight Flavors, The Untold Story of American Cuisine, last night. It was such a fun read (but terrible to read late at night – it made me so hungry!). I loved learning the historical and cultural stories that surrounded these eight flavors. I think it’s important to take the time every now and then to pause and think beyond the act of consumption. Things come from somewhere. They are produced by someone. And they are a part of our society for some reason. I love learning the story behind the things.

It seemed incredibly profound to me that America’s eight flavors – the ones we consume in mass and inform our culinary story – are incredibly ethnic. As I’ve been reading this book and sharing a few notable tidbits with people, they always inevitable ask what the eight flavors are. Their next response is usually along the lines of, “But those aren’t American, they are Asian/Spanish/Italian, etc.”

But really, aren’t we all those things? What is America, if not a land of many people, from vastly different lands, with a family heritage as diverse as our eating habits? Sarah Lohman says it best in her chapter on Siriracha, one of my favorite stories (and flavors) of the eight:

The story of Siriracha is a quintessentially American story. Our food is a mash-up of people and influences from all over the plant.

I don’t want to ruin the story in case you pick up this book, but the Siriracha story is incredibly inspiring, touching, and timely. We live in a land where people have come when their own land was no longer safe or prosperous, and they come to contribute. This is most evident in our beautifully blended, multi cultural, “American” cuisine. It’s vast. It’s vibrant. And it’s delicious.

Just some food for thought for your Friday. Continue reading

A Few Nuggets Of Parenting Wisdom

I’ve been a parent now for about six years. So naturally that makes me as darn close to an expert in a field as you are going to get (cough, cough).

Here are a few nuggets of parenting wisdom that I thought I’d share from my vast years of experience:

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If you make your child food especially for them, based on your careful observation of their preferences, and deliver it too them with all the hope of those brave souls who anxiously stepped aboard the Titanic, then you too, will sink in the merciless ocean of your toddler’s icy glare of disapproval.

This will also happen if you make anything else. They basically just hate your food.

Kids have a knack for finding and destroying the things you hold most dear. It doesn’t matter how high up on the shelf or how tucked back in the cupboard you place the item. The emotional attachment you have for said item will create a magnetic force that will draw your child to the beloved item and so overpower them that their natural reaction is to destroy your heirloom and your heart to tiny, tiny pieces that can never ever be repaired.  Continue reading

What Joanna Gaines Taught Me About Thriving

I have a confession. I can be a bit…shall we say…contrary. Which kills me to say because my oldest son absolutely drives me crazy with his contrary ways. I don’t know where he gets it.

Anyways.

I resist watching movies or reading books that everyone else goes gangbusters over for the simple reason that I don’t want to be a joiner. If everyone else loves it I automatically have to hate it. I know, I KNOW. You don’t even have to tell me. Contrary.

In my defense, I don’t tend to actually like the popular things; at least, not in their time. I started doing yoga before it was cool. My style tends to be a little more vintage and classic than current trends. And no, I don’t like Beyoncé. I won’t and I will not.

So, even though my husband and the rest of the entire world absolutely love the show, Fixer Upper, part of me kind of wants to hate it. But I JUST CAN’T.

A friend gave me The Magnolia Story and I devoured it in two sittings. As much as it pains me to admit, I sent away for my membership into the official Chip and Joanna fan club. I’m sold. In love. Smitten.

If I’m going to hop on a bandwagon, it might as well be the super inspirational and impeccably designed Gaines family wagon.

Let me tell you what got me.

Honestly, I could take or leave the design aspect. There style isn’t really my own. I don’t go for the rustic, reclaimed look. I like a mix of vintage and modern. I’ve said it before, but my style is a cross between boho-vintage and granny-chic. But that is neither here nor there. Continue reading

A Little About Me

Oh. Hey there!

I took last week off from blogging because the weather was fantastic, my husband had a few days off from school, and well, I just needed it. I needed to focus on my family and take care of myself a little bit, and leave everything else to another day. It felt good, but I missed you!

Hey! How are you?

It’s been awhile since I’ve introduced/reintroduced myself, so I thought I’d share a little about me. Here goes. Continue reading

Five Things

I’ve been listening to some great podcasts lately, so I thought I’d share a couple!

1. That Sounds Fun With Annie F. Downs: Check out episode #23 with Michael Wear. It’s a fantastic interview and the most positive take on politics I’ve heard in maybe two years. Seriously so good. Also, fun fact, I’m super excited to check out his new book, Reclaiming Hope. It’s my next book to review, so stay tuned!

2. The Village Church – Culture Matters: Check out episode #42 with Makoto Fujimura. This podcast really inspired the way I think about art and faith. As someone who has always been a big art lover, I really connected with Fujimura’s ideas on creation, creativity, and faith. At the end of the podcast, I was really interested to hear the hosts’ thoughts on Martin Scorsese’s new film, Silence.

3. Stories Podcast: We’ve never played kid’s music for our kids because, well, it’s horrible. But, when we are in the van together and I want to entertain the kids without putting in a DVD, I rely on this amazing podcast full of fun kid’s stories. It’s great!

4. I started watching The Newsroom with Jeff Daniels on Amazon Prime. OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. This show is amazing. I don’t know how I haven’t heard about this show before. Honestly, this is one of the most masterfully crafted pieces of entertainment – either from a tv show or movie – that I’ve ever seen. Daniels is brilliant as a lead anchor in a nighttime news show, and the show is so impeccably scripted that each episode leaves me feeling inspired. Also, though it does have strong language, it’s such a relief to find a show that isn’t 100% about sex. I get it. People like to have sex. Can we all just move on? It doesn’t make interesting entertainment for me. This show, though. SLOW. CLAP. Continue reading

Two Children’s Books, Reviewed!

Processed with VSCO with m5 presetI recently signed up to become a book reviewer and I’m looooving the gig. It’s been fun seeing what shows up at my doorstep.

Recently, I received two kids books that I was pretty impressed with, so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you. This isn’t a sponsored post. I was simply given an advanced copy of these books in exchange for my unbiased review. Take a look!

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Same Kind of Different As Me, by Ron Hall & Denver MooreProcessed with VSCO with m5 preset

Denver Moore spent years as a homeless man on the streets of Fort Worth Texas, until he met Debbie and Ron Hall who befriended him and gave him a fresh start in life. Together, they wrote this book and traveled the states, reminding others that we are the “same kind of different,” because we are all different from each other. Their story gives “homeless” a name, a story, and a face.

Same Kind of Different as Me is a touching and inspirational story of compassion, faith, and of the importance of becoming the hands and feet of Jesus. The story is told in a way that is easy for children to understand, but is sure to inspire readers of all ages.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Denver Moore, and would be a wonderful addition to any home library, inspiring us all with the important reminder that, “You can help somebody too.”

I. Loved. This. Book.

It inspired me. It moved me. I can’t wait to read it to my kids.

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Jesus Calling, The International Children’s Bible, with devotions from Sarah YoungProcessed with VSCO with m5 preset

First, let’s start with how the Bible looks. It’s a hard back, with lovely illustrations and regular weighted paper pages. The back of the Bible says it translated at a third grade reading level. Some third graders will be ready to care for this Bible, which looks and feels more like an adult Bible than the heavier weighted pages of a board book geared towards the toddler aged set, but some will not.

The Bible reads like a book, with the chapter and verses clearly marked. I liked that they kept the text simple, both in the translation and in the sense that they kept it free from extra notes or references. The appearance is clean, straightforward, and easy to read.

Scattered throughout the Bible are devotions that start to nudge kids towards understanding and applying the truth of the text. I particularly liked the “Jesus Calling Moments” where a single verse and truth is pulled out to help the little readers understand the heart of the message.

The back of the Bible has a fantastic dictionary, a quick reference guide titled “Where Do I Find It?,” a thoughtfully curated list of God’s promises and memory verses for young readers, and a space for notes.

I loved the translation, and found it easy to read and understand. Although translated at a third grade reading level, it is simple enough for even younger children to grasp if read aloud to them. For example:

The Lord listens when I pray to him.

Psalms 4:3

This Bible would best suit children who are already reading on their own and are ready to start spending time reading for their own personal interest and application.

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So, what did you think? Helpful? Let me know if you’d like to continue hearing my reviews of other books as I receive them. They will cover a variety of topics, genres, and ages.

Happy reading!

Show Me How You Hygge

Hygge

Have you heard of it?

I’m so in love with this Danish concept and, truth be told, it’s offered some real inspiration for my home and life this winter. The Dane’s created the concept as a way to survive the cold, dark days of winter. Sound familiar? Can I get an amen??? I mean, pass the therapy light and extra large cup of coffee and count me in cause this girl needs her Hygge.

So what is it, you might be asking?

According to the adorable website, Hygge House, Hygge is:

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special. Whether it’s making coffee a verb by creating a ritual of making it then lingering over a cup to a cosy evening in with friends to the simple act of lighting a candle with every meal. Hygge is being aware of a good moment whether it’s simple or special.

Some refer to hygge as an “art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends and your home). While there’s no one English word to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as cosiness, charm, happiness, contentedness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.

Ummm. Sign me up, sister. Continue reading

A Little Less Talk

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I read recently that sending your lover flowers for Valentine’s Day derives from an old fashioned tradition of sending flowers to communicate a non-verbal message, something that we still do today.

In this day of fast talking, instant access, always connected but never really connecting, constant stream of conversation that is life in the 21st century, perhaps we would all do well to just STOP TALKING so much.

Sure, we have some important messages to communicate. But maybe, just maybe, those messages would be heard the clearest through means other than our voice. A bouquet of flowers. A simple gift. A touch.

They say “talk is cheap,” and perhaps that’s because anyone can talk. It requires a special sort of someone to notice the non-verbal ways that communicate love to your Valentine. Anyone can say ‘I love you,’ but can just anyone show it?

Maybe we could take this Valentine’s Day, and every day, to talk less, notice more, and think of new ways to communicate our love and affection. Ways that are specific to the receiver. How do the best feel loved?

You know how the song goes. “A little less talk and a lot more action.”

You interpret those lyrics as you wish.

Happy Valentine’s Day, rosebuds.

PS Why yes, that IS a skull and cross bones painted on one of Theo’s handmade Valentine’s Day cards. I’m so glad you noticed. We were reading about pirates that day. Theo is the master of integration. 😉 Continue reading

Love Is Gentle

The other night, I was in the kitchen working on dinner when I overheard a conversation between Theo and Oliver. Theo was telling Oliver that he loved him.

“I love you because I’m gentle to you,” Theo said.

I smiled to myself, because though they weren’t exactly being gentle to each other, I knew what he was getting at. And his heart was in the right place.

We try to steer clear of abstract terms and principles with the kids. It’s all fine and dandy to encourage your kids to say ‘I love you’ to each other, and we do, but it’s best when followed up with an explanation of what love looks like. Otherwise, it remains an abstract term, and it takes kids years before they start to understand abstract thought (most people say around the age of 9).

“Love is gentle,” I tell the boys. It looks like a soft touch, a kind word, a hug when the other person is crying.

Love does this.

Love is that.

This is what it looks like. Continue reading

On Enjoying The Journey

A common question these days is, “So, how is homeschooling?”

I get the sense that people half expect me to regret my decision. That they wouldn’t be surprised one bit if I broke down in tears and said I hated it. That I couldn’t take one more day of it. And truthfully, that is kind of what I expected to happen. I really didn’t think this would work.

No one is more surprised than me that this is actually pretty awesome.

I want to be frank with you. If homeschooling wasn’t working, I would admit it. I’m not here to sugar coat anything. If you’ve been reading my blog for two days or two years, hopefully one thing you’ve come to expect is my honesty. So trust me when I say, I’m digging this whole homeschooling-unschooling experience.

Homeschooling is hard. It’s requiring a ton of work. And yes, I’m not getting much of a break from the kids.

But.

Guys, I’m having so much fun.  Continue reading