Half way there

Half way there

It’s hard to believe I’m already half way through this pregnancy. At first, the days seemed to drag on (24/7 nausea, excessive saliva production, and constant fatigue will do that). But for the last several weeks, time has just flown by. Before I know it, the holidays will be here and gone and the baby will be arriving.

I’m trying to savor the moment though, now that the majority of the nausea has subsided (thank you Diclegis!).

I’m starting to find it harder to do certain things, like bending over (squishes the baby) or squeezing through tight spaces (can’t suck this belly in). I’m also finding it a little harder to concentrate sometimes as Baby wiggles and kicks and flips around in my belly distracting me from whatever is at hand. For some reason, while I’m driving seems to be one of Baby’s favorite active times…

I’m savoring the feeling though, because it won’t always be like this. I want to be able to look back and say I enjoyed it while it lasted.

We’re working away at our pre-baby project list and planning our 5 year anniversary vacation to New England. Hard to believe it’s almost fall already. I’ve had the windows open the last few days and it’s been downright chilly when I go out to feed before dawn (48* this morning!). As a self-proclaimed lover of all things fall, I’m beyond excited for the change in weather. I even brought out the plaid and red boots.

Fall pregnancy

So here’s to enjoying a lovely fall, not being too busy, and prepping for the lovely little addition that will be joining us soon =).



Simplifying life seems to be a continuous project for me. It goes in fits and spurts, but it’s always going.

I’ve been reading some inspiration lately, and one post challenged me to write down my goals:

Check your mindset:

1. Write down your goals. What do you want from this change? Where do you feel the greatest need to slow down and simplify? What do you stand to gain?
2. Write down your strengths. What are you already good at? Gardening? Organising? Planning? Cooking healthy, cheap meals?
3. Write down your weaknesses. What challenges will you face? What circumstances will make change harder for you?
4. Check your answers. You need to be in this for the right reasons. You need to understand that you come to simple living from a unique place. Your journey won’t look like anyone else’s. And that’s fine. Great, even. Perfect.
5. Get to it. Committing goals to paper helps you achieve them.

Homemade bread

So here goes.


  • Slow. Feel slower, simpler, less frazzled, less behind. I want to stop constantly feeling like I’m behind on just about everything.
  • Enjoy. I want to get to enjoy our lovely home (even if it isn’t perfect), my horse, our land. They’re not burdens, they’re blessings.
  • Invest. I want to invest in the things God has given us to steward. Our time, our home, our land, our animals, our friendships, our family, our life.
  • Explore. I want to have adventures. Get out. Get going. See someplace new. Leave behind the crazy. Refresh. Restore. Make room for wonderful experiences.
  • Ryhthm. I love having rhythm to life, not necessarily patterns or habits or set schedules, but rhythms to live by.
  • Get rid of excess clutter, especially in the garage!! Also books, DVDs, desk supplies, craft supplies, clothes and shoes. (I’ve been doing a lot better on the books/DVDs/clothes/shoes, but there is always more progress to make!)
  • Organize necessary stored supplies, especially in the study, garage, barn and garden shed. (Shelving, shelving, shelving! Thinking about asking for this for my birthday.)
  • Quiet, calm atmosphere. Not too much stuff, not too much furniture.
  • Preparedness. Extra toiletries, paper towels, flour, laundry detergent. Because the stress of running out is far more energy-consuming than being prepared ahead of time.
  • Slowing weekends. Yes, Saturdays are for productivity. But if I clean/do laundry more during the week, Saturdays are simpler, especially now that I have to share that time and space with Husband. Also, Sundays. Sundays are not for errands. Sundays are for rest. Remember that. Do errands before Sunday!
  • Simplify finances. Don’t use credit card. Open work account for Husband. Open business account for business. Separating, simplifying. So much less stressful.
  • Strengths:

  • I’m generally consistent. I’m a rule follower, when I make a plan, create a rule, I stick to it.
  • I love organizing (I just need some supplies, like shelves!)
  • Keeping our calendar realistic and making regular do-to lists. I was in a rhythm, I’ve gotten out of it. I need my rhythm back.
  • Weaknesses:

  • Filing. I hate filing paperwork. But I love a clean desk…
  • Weeding. Gardens are great, upkeep is not.
  • Our schedule. Both working full time, and each commuting an hour each way, makes for a full day before we even get home.
  • Getting up early. Getting up a little earlier would make mornings better, more productive, easier, simpler. I’m just bad at it. Luckily, summer is arriving and with it the sun. It’s so much easier to get up in time to throw in a load of laundry and make sure the dishwasher is loaded when the sun is up early too.
  • Farm fresh eggs

    Slowing down

    Slowing down

    We took some time to slow down amid a busy September last weekend.

    Busy is just that, busy. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are achieving, accomplishing. It doesn’t automatically mean that we are being productive or growing or stretching. It just means busy.

    We’re still figuring out the balance. The rhythm. Of this new life, new home, new phase.

    We walked down to the neighbor’s the other night and sat in their living room as the rain pounded down and just talked and talked for hours. Husband and I walked home in the dark, dodging the last of the rain drops. It was late, but it felt good to be making connections, making time, being, talking.

    In an effort to make some of that time for ourselves, we took off for the mountains last weekend. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as we would like, but our little mountain excursions help bring us a bit of sanity, of slowing, of breathing, of being. It’s good for us.

    A few photos and a few thoughts from our trip…

    Sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway

    Our campsite at Sherando Lake State Recreation Area

    So green at the lakes


    Hiking Humpback Rocks Trail

    The view from Humpback Rocks Trail

    The pup made it to the top too

    Enjoying the view, Blue Ridge Mountains

    Too early?

    Too early?

    So I know it’s really a little too early to be getting into fall mode. But September does arrive on Monday, and it’s been cool enough to open the windows at night, and we are going camping next weekend, and I just got a new sweater, so I’m pretty much in fall mode at this point.

    So I made myself some apple cinnamon oatmeal to go with my tea, and I’m making plans to hunt down a second red rocking chair from Cracker Barrel to match the first so we can sit and rock on the porch this fall. And I’m making lists of things I need to buy for our camping trip: charcoal, lighter fluid, hot chocolate (just the essentials, you can see).

    It’s supposed to be back in the *90s this weekend, but I will not be deterred. I have requested Husband procure firewood in anticipation of the coming chill and I’m trying to figure out if I can afford a lovely pair of Muck Boots for the muddy season.

    As I’ve been is house-remodel mode for months, I have been looking forward to fall, to slowing down, to enjoying owning a home in the country. This.

    I guess I’d better get a move on refinishing those cabinets in the kitchen, and sealing the counter tops, because I can’t slow down until those are done. And I really, really want to whitewash the fireplace before we start using it. So here’s to buckling down and getting it done.

    Refinishing cabinets

    Working on Mornings

    Working on Mornings

    A few thoughts as I work on making more of each day… The Rise & Shine thing is going okay. Not great, but okay. When school starts back up next week traffic is going to get worse and I’m going to need to leave the house earlier. So, not fun. Also, Husband has become very good at convincing me to stay under the warm covers just “a few more minutes” which inevitably turns into 20 minutes with both of our alarms sounding every 4 or 5…Sigh.

    Maybe I need to set my alarm for 5:00, that way we have some time together in the morning before getting up and facing the day. And I still need a lamp in the garage so I don’t trip down the stairs when I go out to feed.

    The good news is that I have been more intentional about doing little things, like putting in a load of laundry in the morning, or cleaning up the bathroom while I wait for the tea kettle to whistle. I’ve noticed that those little things bring me so much peace, I look around and see progress instead of chaos.

    Also, the cooler weather and open windows are refreshing. And I love hearing the sounds of morning in the barn — Chappy nickers, Jane bleats, the rooster crows and the hens cluck. It almost sounds like a real homestead. I also get to check for eggs now. They seem to be laying early afternoon, but I can still check in the mornings, just in case. (As I told Husband yesterday: I like looking for these little gifts, it’s like Christmas everyday!)

    A few more thoughts:

    “If you are a late sleeper, you’re best plan is to try and get up 10 minutes earlier than the rest and use that time to your advantage to reclaim YOUR mornings.” – The Abundant Mama

    In other words, not everyone is a morning person, and THAT’S OKAY.

    Also, a challenge to think about the things I need right now. The two biggest ones that come to mind are rest and exercise. That’s why last night after feeding I made a cup of tea and sat in my rocking chair on the porch with a good book. I needed it. And it’s why Husband and I took the pup on a walk Sunday afternoon. I needed it.

    Evening porch sitting

    And, a challenge to identify the difference between my daily intentions and weekend intentions:

    Work Hard
    Be Productive at Work
    Maintain Home
    Maintain Animals

    Be Productive at Home
    Make Progress on House
    Steward Home and Belongings
    Give Special Care to Animals

    Focus on Husband

    And, today’s challenge is to turn a morning ritual into a habit. I think, in this phase of life, my morning feeding is that ritual. I go outside, breathe fresh air, talk to the animals. I’m not sure how much I’ll like it once it gets cold, but right now it’s perfect. It gets me started in the morning. Maybe someday I’ll spend a few more minutes out there, grooming or just being with my girls. It’s good for me, I can feel it.

    Rise & Shine

    Rise & Shine

    Rise and Shine?? Rise maybe, but not so much shining.

    Alarms started going off at 4:45. No idea why, I think Husband was planning to get up early. So at least I was somewhat awake when my 5:30 alarm went off, but not enough to want to get out of bed. I finally untangled myself from the covers and various limbs (like, the dog’s) and rolled out of bed at 5:50. Not quite my 5:40 goal, but closer than yesterday.

    I have just enough time in the mornings to slowly get things done, not much extra, but enough that I’m not rushing. I immediately go out to feed Chappy and Jane (Side note: I need a lamp in the garage. The overhead lights don’t like to turn on right away and it leaves me fumbling for my jacket and boots when I head out to feed before light). Then proceed to shower, dress, prepare for work, eat breakfast, pack my lunch (granted, Husband does the majority of lunch prep), and finish off my cup of tea before leaving for work. This morning, I even had time to start the dishwasher (granted, Husband mostly loaded it) and fill the humming bird feeder with fresh food. I have to say, it felt good just to have five minutes to do those two little things. How much more so if I can rise earlier?

    This morning’s sunrise.

    The topic from the Rise & Shine Project today is to talk about nighttime rituals. Routines, and more importantly, rhythms are incredibly important to me. All the more so since I struggled with insomnia in college. I’ve tried a lot of different habits to help me get to sleep, but the most effective has been having a job that takes a lot of my energy =). These days, I am dragging myself to bed and fall asleep within a half hour of turning the light out, often even sooner, which is nothing short of miraculous.

    There are a few things I do regularly though, that help me wind down. At the end of the day, I love to have a cup of tea or a glass of wine and talk with Husband, or watch a bit of a movie, or do something sedentary that slows my body down. And I have a basic routine of self-care just before bed, like brushing my teeth, washing my face, and generally taking care of myself physically so I feel fresh and clean. I also use a little spritz of lavender on my pillow to freshen the scent, I curl up under blankets with a good book and read for a few minutes, and when I’m fighting sleep to keep reading, I remind myself that sleep is a gift, turn out the light and roll over.

    There are other things I’d like to add to my routine though, like selecting my outfit for the follow day so I don’t have to do it in the haze of morning. Maybe some Scripture reading with Husband. I used to be in the habit of straightening the living room and putting all the dog toys away.

    So maybe tonight I’ll add a little more to the routine…



    A few notes from church Sunday spurred me to thinking it is time for a bit of change in my life…

    When we create, we worship God. Imagination is the closest we get to mirroring God’s ability to create something out of nothing.

    Create for His glory.

    Don’t let others run your life and your schedule. Set aside time to dow hat God has called you to do. Don’t let technology and the pave of life control you.

    God calls us each beyond our comfort zones.

    Huperekperissou refers to going way beyond what you can imagine. It’s a super superlative, describing how God can do everything we ask, He can do everything we can imagine, and He can do wildly beyond what we can imagine we can imagine.

    God lives beyond the space we call possible.

    Take on a challenge that requires God’s amazing power, and then give the glory to Him.

    The one thing that struck me in the midst of the sermon, and followed me throughout the day, was the book I’ve been working on (I use that phrase loosely, very loosely) for about six years. Most of that time has been spent NOT working on it. Because things got in the way. I worked diligently when I lived in Ohio, by myself, in a little tiny, sleepy community, with no internet access or TV or anything. Then I moved to Virginia. I started a new job, grad school, another new job, met Husband, got married, moved 5 times, bought a house. Life has been full. And I have not been writing.

    We’re busy with home renovations, but really, I see this as a lull time in our life. (Crazy to think that with how busy we are!) Post-school. Pre-kids. Ideal for writing. I hope.

    My most productive time of day is really mid-morning (9:00-1:00). However, I spend those hours at work. I’ve tried writing during my lunch break, but the fact is that my brain needs a rest then, so knitting is a better occupation for that time. That leaves me wondering, when?

    So I’m evaluating. Calculating. Looking over every inch of my schedule. Finding time. Finding energy.

    To that end, this is my current schedule:

    5:30 am – alarm goes off
    5:40 am – roll out of bed; brush teeth; feed horse and goat
    6:00 am – try to wake up by taking a hot shower
    6:30 am – eat breakfast; pack lunch; get ready for work
    7:00 am – leave for work
    8:00 am – 5:00 pm – work
    6:00 pm – arrive home from work; change; feed dog, horse, goat and sugar gliders; unpack lunch bag etc.
    6:45 pm – select one or two things from list: ride Chappy, clean house, laundry, clean barn, yard work, house projects, everything on never-ending to-do list
    8:30 pm-ish – eat dinner; sit with Husband; watch part of a movie
    9:30 pm – crash
    10:00 pm – 5:00 am – sleep roughly 7 hours

    It doesn’t leave much time for writing. Or anything else I want to do.

    Weekends are different, but also full. Saturdays are spent in constant motion: riding, cleaning house, laundry, cleaning barn, yard work, house projects, everything on never-ending to-do list. I never get everything done. I just prioritize until I run out of time. Sundays are set aside for church and Husband time. We don’t do much planning ahead, but usually run an errand or two, go for a bike ride, take the pup to the park etc. We end the day on the couch with a movie. It’s intended to be restful though often active, laid back, and time spent together.

    There are things that haven’t made it onto the schedule that I very much want to make time for. Writing; reading; yoga; baking; knitting; jogging.

    I was doing really well at getting up at 5:40, when it was still light out. That’s what gets me each and every year. In the summer, no problem (okay, problems with grumbling and sleepy eyes, but I can do it), but fall? Winter? No way. Not happening. Darkness apparently immobilizes me in the winter.

    But with our new house comes new habits. New phases are the easiest way to create new routines. Change is going to happen, take control of it, make it work for you. For me, the most effective has always been when I move. In this house, I will… or In this house, I will not…

    So this is my year, my time to change, my opportunity to learn how to rise early even in the winter.

    As part of that, I’m going to participate in the Rise & Shine Challenge for a few days. I’m a bit late getting in on it (and I rolled out of bed at 6:00 instead of 5:40 this morning — it always sabotages me when Husband has a day off and doesn’t get up with me).

    Cup of hot tea with book and plaid on table on gray background

    This morning’s challenge is to consider what your ideal morning would feel like, how it would flow, and what sounds you would want to hear…

    An ideal morning would be gentle. I am not a morning person, I do not leap out of bed ready to greet the day. I need to ease into it. I think it’s why I don’t mind slipping on some boots and going out to the barn to feed first thing, in my pajamas. (At least while it’s warm I don’t mind.) I drink tea, slowly. I take a hot shower. All of these things are gentle, quiet, calm.

    I’d like to feel like I have it together and I’m awake when I leave for work. I don’t want to rush. I don’t want to forget something. I should really pack my bag the night before. (And thank goodness for Husband who packs my lunch or I would likely starve.)

    In some ways, I would like to do devotions, but I’m usually not quite coherent enough to remember anything I read that early. So I want to leave a little early and dive in when I get to the office and am more awake.

    I might try yoga or jogging in the morning. As long as it’s gentle, and I can do it in my pajamas. Maybe. We’ll see.

    The sound question is something I never really thought of. In my perfect life, it would be chilly enough to leave the windows open all night and I would wake up to the birds chirping. Otherwise, quiet is good. It’s calm, it’s gentle. Maybe a bit of serene background sounds, like they use in spas…



    In keeping with my last post, Fallow, I was forced into a bit of rest this week and realized that I needed it much more than I even realized.

    I had been struggling through Day 2 of Horrible Headache, when I kindly informed my husband that I would not be making progress on the house that evening, because I was going to soak in a hot bath. (He wholeheartedly supported this, because he’s wonderful.)

    I soaked. I sipped a glass of wine. I watched Persuasion. I may or may not have done all three at once.

    Then I took myself to bed early, with a good book (reading approximately 1.5 pages before completely falling asleep).

    I woke up this morning refreshed. Not perfect, but the headache was gone, the exhaustion was gone, the stress of just getting ready for work (much less actually working full time) was gone. I hummed along on my to work, listening to an audiobook during my hour commute, and arrived half an hour early. It was a good way to start the day.

    I think more rest will be in my future.



    From Shauna Niequist recently…

    There’s a certain amount of pressure for all of us, I think, to be endlessly productive, to create content around the clock, to say big things every day, if you’re a blogger, or every Sunday if you’re a preacher.

    Let’s resist that. It’s not how nature works. It’s not how seasons work. There’s planting and reaping and harvesting, and there’s the practice of letting a field lay fallow for a while, allowing it to prepare again to produce. For the first time in a long time, I’m practicing silence, laying fallow, trusting that the world will keep spinning quite happily without quite so many words from me.

    Right now, in my life, this is profound. Lay fallow? Silent? It feels foreign. But there has to be a way to incorporate this into my oh-so-full life of working, living, renovating and more. There just has to.