Today is my first day of Christmas break.
My girls, however, are still in school...so I am home alone.
A day to myself to do whatever I want to do.
And what do I have planned on this wonderful day?
I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas morning as a child.
There was the year that we woke up to 10-speed-bikes sitting in front of the tree, surrounding the rest of the gifts for my little brother and me.
There was the year that it was snowy and cold and after all the gifts were opened, we both got carried outside with our eyes closed to find the playhouse they had ready for us. In fact, Mr. Farmhouse and I used that playhouse as our chicken coop until just last year when we moved to the farmhouse.
There was the year that he and I peeked at our gifts and our two "big gifts" were missing on Christmas morning. My mom had saved them for last and had wrapped them up with our parents' names on the tags. We were trying to play it cool like we didn't know they were missing, because we didn't realize they knew we had sneaked out to the shop to look...lesson learned!
Even into adulthood, we have always been provided with everything we ever dreamed of, so naturally I have wanted to provide the same feeling for my own girls.
However, we have some financial goals that we are working towards to be able to provide for them later in life...in high school when they need a vehicle to drive, to help them with college expenses, and of course, when they get married and start having children.
Going into debt or dipping into savings at Christmastime is tempting, but after working so hard for an entire year to save and work the debt snowball, we don't want to lose our progress at the end of the year because of gifts.
I cannot even tell you how amazing the process has been.
The girls couldn't even think of three items for each category.
They were sitting together at the dining room table as they tried to think long and hard about what they truly needed and the conversation they were having warmed my heart.
H: I can't think of anything for "something I need". I don't think I need anything.
C: I put an electric toothbrush because mine broke a few weeks ago.
H: You know, I will be needing a new softball glove this year. I'll put that on there.
The girls are completely aware that we would buy toothbrushes or softball gloves during other times of the year, but instead of using that gift slot for something else, they both decided to use it to replace items that are worn out or too small.
I was able to shop for the gifts without breaking the bank and literally all in one night (Black Friday with my sis-in-law!).
They will each get stocking stuffers and one small gift from Santa and that is IT.
The tree is still pretty.
The farmhouse is still cozy.
The magic of the season is all around us.
With four gifts each.
I can't wait to see their faces on Christmas morning.
Happy December from the farmhouse, friends.
There's no question about it.
Autumn is my favorite season.
It's often short-lived here in Missouri and we often spend a day or two each September with a taste of Autumn before jumping back into high temperatures for another week or so.
However, I am hopeful that yesterday was our last day in the 80's for a while.
Bring on the colorful leaves, misty mornings, Pumpkin Spice-everything, scarves, and cozy hooded sweatshirts.
Since making my decision to put down the camera and focus solely on my new role at school this year, I've had a lot more weekend time at home.
It's not basketball season yet and our nephew's football games have been in the evenings, so I have been able to wake up on Saturday mornings and spend some time in the quiet of the farmhouse front porch, taking in the crisp, cool morning breeze.
When the long summer days start to get shorter and the hot, humid days start to get cooler, I feel a renewed sense of urgency for enjoying every moment in my home with Mr. Farmhouse and the girls.
I start to think more about crock pots with simmering soup, evenings spent around the fire pit, and the smell of fresh-baked cookies wafting through the house.
When I read the book It Starts with Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig, over a year ago, I learned about the importance of a "reset" for our bodies.
That's what the Whole30 is all about....resetting your body back to a “whole” diet with all real, clean foods and nothing processed.
After my first two rounds of the Whole30, I gradually fell back into my old eating habits and in turn welcomed back the joint pain, constant exhaustion, and digestive issues that come with eating “Frankenfoods”, as Melissa Hartwig calls them.
About nine months ago, I read Melissa’s second book, Food Freedom Forever.
It was with this book that I really started to understand the process of resetting, occasionally enjoying foods that are “worth” going off plan, and then quickly resetting again.
So you spend most of your time in this "reset" period of eating the foods that are very best for your body.
It was such a novel idea to me after spending years trying to "get healthy" and "lose weight" and "get in shape".
Research shows that calorie-restriction (or the complete restriction of specific foods) does not promote a sustainable lifestyle.
It makes so much more sense to live in a place of "reset" with an occasional jump off-track here and there.
And then this week, as I was trying to stay caught up with classroom planning, home responsibilities, and three little farm girls, it hit me...I should be living most of my life in a place of "reset".
I think we've been getting it wrong all these years.
Instead of mirroring that "reset" lifestyle, where we focus on the basic principles of sustenance, we overindulge in every way, every day.
And I'm not just talking about food.
I'm talking about the over-connectedness we have by being in constant communication with those around us by texting and social media accounts.
I'm talking about saying "yes" to every single request to volunteer or spend time on various projects outside of the home.
...about having so many belongings in our homes that we are slaves to them...spending every extra minute in life cleaning and maintaining them.
...about eating out three or four times a week because everyone won't be home all at the same time or early enough to eat supper at the table.
...about being so involved in every extracurricular activity offered to your family that you don't have time to just be home with those you love or to spend time with your church family.
Sidenote: Check out our minister's blog post from today...crazy timing, considering most of this post was already written!
I think the struggle is that these things I just mentioned above are THE NORM.
In the average American family, times of "reset" seem to be few and far between...only happening on a rare weekend when there is nothing else going on.
The problem with this is that we NEED more "reset" than that.
A healthy physical, mental, and spiritual life is promoted when the "reset" becomes the regular.
When we spend time sitting at home, instead of rushing from 'Point A' to 'Point B'.
When we purge unloved and unneeded items, instead of letting them control our homes where we must organize them and clean around them constantly.
When we have the freedom to say "no" to activities and even volunteer opportunities because we know that it would not put us in a healthy state of mind.
When we have time to plan a healthy weekly menu and make food (or enjoy Mr. Farmhouse making the food) for our family each night instead of taking advantage of the drive-through whenever it's available.
In order to make this work, we have to be intentional.
It will take carefully calculated decisions each and every day to find that "reset" life.
However, I'm looking forward to taking these next six months to really hone in on what are the most important parts of our life at the farmhouse and starting to weed away everything else.
I need a reset.
How about you?
The "heart of the home".
Often the central location of what's going on in our house, our kitchen can quickly turn into the catch all.
In the old house, we had a peninsula that we had built-in to house the dishwasher we added a few years after we moved in.
Besides meal prep and clean-up messes, you would often find lunch boxes thrown down after school, bills dropped on the counter, and various other items that would find their way to the flat surfaces of the kitchen.
This peninsula quickly became a hot spot for everything that was in our arms when we walked through the door.
It was a huge, flat space and it naturally seemed to attract clutter.
When we bought the farmhouse, I really wanted to try and avoid having a hot spot area like this.
The dining room table definitely has the potential to become this "hot spot", but by keeping seasonal decorations on there, the problem has been fairly minimal. Surprisingly.
And by being intentional with our kitchen counter spaces, we've avoided a lot of that "hot spot clutter".
The yellow cabinet holds a few cookbooks and my Ninja blender that I use most every day.
It also houses the plates and bowls we use most often. I moved them down there so they were more accessible for the girls.
We have onions and potatoes on the bottom shelf (and sitting over to the side if they won't fit inside!)
Bread and veggies go on top!
Sidenote: Glittery hand sanitizing gel in the hands of a toddler WILL take the paint off of the top of a Target clearance cabinet like this one. Or so we've heard.
Originally, the farmhouse kitchen was an eat-in kitchen.
It had a small space for a table where the sink is now and the stove and sink were on the whole other side of the room.
The refrigerator was where the coffee bar is now and there was a little peninsula jutting out into the room where our refrigerator sits.
The kitchen also had a tile floor that had been added right over the beautiful hardwood floors that the previous owner refinished.
One of my favorite things to do early in the morning before the sun comes up is to get my coffee and my Bible and go sit in the living room to talk to Jesus.
I don't turn any lights on in the kitchen, but just enjoy the ambiance of the white lights and all the various items that have been placed on top of the cabinets for a specific reason.
If you look closely, you can see silhouette cut-out of the girls' profiles,
a clay bowl that says "Hemple, Missouri" on it that reminds me of a very special family,
a navy blue spool that I purchased the very first time I went antiquing with my mother-in-law,
a "Welcome to the Farmhouse" sign that my mom bought me the very first week we lived here,
a can that has a poppy on it that I bought on a trip to Oklahoma with my mom & sisters-in-law,
and many other small sentimental items that bring joy to my heart.