You might remember three or four years ago when I blogged about the our trip to the Pioneer Woman Mercantile as I was coming straight out of a Whole30 round.
My sister-in-law and I discovered the book It Starts with Food by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Urban several years ago.
The basic premise of this book is that we really should be fueling our bodies with clean & natural foods -- lean meats, fruits, veggies, and nuts -- nothing processed.
In the past, every Whole30 round I have done has been beneficial to me.
I have had a huge reduction in joint pain.
I've lost weight.
My face has been clearer.
I've had more energy.
With all of these benefits, it's hard to believe why anyone would ever go off of the Whole30 plan.
However, lack-of-planning, stress-eating, and sheer convenience has often taken me off track.
In September 2020, I tested positive for COVID-19.
I spent 10 days in my bedroom in isolation, away from Mr. Farmhouse and the girls.
Thankfully, I really didn't get very ill. I had some congestion and a few days of feeling achy, and I tired out quickly.
Other than that, the main lingering symptom I had was digestive issues.
I would have random stomach pains, no matter what I ate.
When my taste finally returned, it was different (it's still different, to be quite honest -- almost five months later).
Sidenote: Reeses Peanut Butter Cups taste like dirt to me now. Actually, all peanut butter products. It. Is. So. Sad.
I had other digestive issues following COVID that caused me to lose 13 pounds there in the first month. I won't give details of that, but let's just say it wasn't good.
And then these issues continued.
Finally, over Christmas break, I decided something had to change.
My brother, sister-in-law, my two older girls, and myself decided to embark upon another Whole30.
With my word of the year this year being "discipline", I figured a Whole30 would a great way to start practicing putting that word into action.
We started on Sunday, January 3rd.
Day 1 was awful.
My digestive issues got worse, not better, as I detoxed from the processed food and sugar that I had eaten over Christmas break.
Day 2 was awful.
The digestive issues continued, plus I was absolutely exhausted.
On Day 3, I woke up a new person...NO DIGESTIVE ISSUES.
Zero, Zilch, Nada.
Day 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28...
I. Feel. Amazing.
The Whole30 is an elimination program where you slowly introduce things back into your diet after the 30 days is up.
You might start with some sort of processed flour item, to see how it affects you. Maybe something with some sort of certain sauce. Or maybe a dairy item.
The whole idea is that you carefully and intentionally begin to add one thing at a time back into your body and become really in-tuned with how it affects you physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I can't even imagine wanting to add anything back in.
I think COVID caused me to develop some sort of gluten or dairy sensitivity and I would rather not find out which one it is.
My Whole30 might just turn into a WholeForever.
Feeling hopeful here at the farmhouse tonight, friends,
You might remember a few weeks ago when I made my "new year's" post that I had decided to focus on 2021 as 52 separate weeks.
To be honest, this concept has been ah-ma-zing.
Every Sunday afternoon, we sit down for a family meeting, where we go over our menu for the week, make a grocery list, discuss the calendar, and review our annual and weekly goals.
It sounds almost too simple to say that one half-hour meeting on Sunday afternoon has led to three weeks of success in 2021, but it's true!
I thought it might be helpful to run you through the process off our Sunday afternoon meetings, in case you wanted to try something similar with your family.
It might seem like I'm speaking a little too soon on the success of planning weekly and setting 7-day goals instead of annual resolutions, but I can truly feel that something is different this year.
My annual goals seem manageable.
My checklist items are getting marked off.
I'm feeling more productive and peaceful than I have in a while...and we still have time to relax with each other on the weekends and evenings.
Smiling here at the farmhouse today,
On December 25, 2020, I posted a video of Mr. Farmhouse and the girls getting our new puppy, Merle, as a surprise for Christmas.
For some Facebook-algorithm-related reason, this video went viral. It continues to circulate, even now and is up to over 300,000 views.
When the video started making the rounds, I will admit, I didn't tell Mr. Farmhouse right away.
When it finally hit 5,000 views, I decided I should let him know that over 5,000 people had now seen him in his pajamas and chore coat on Christmas morning.
As the numbers kept climbing, I kept him informed.
We were driving home from Christmas dinner at my in-laws house and our 6-year-old daughter, said, "Hey -- are we gonna get merch?"
We all looked at her, confused as to what she was talking about.
She answers, "What? Like merchandise! For the people who watch our videos!"
We laughed this off and explained to her that just because one video I posted is getting a lot of views doesn't mean we're really a "viral" social media family.
Then I posted this story on my personal Facebook page to share with friends because we did think it was adorable.
That's when we were shocked to have several friends and family members say they would buy some of Mattie's merch!
A few days later, a friend reached out with some t-shirt designs and that's when Mattie's merch dreams started to become a reality!
Thanks so much to Sherri at The Old Barn Print Shop for working with me on these t-shirt designs and the adorable mug! You can find her on Facebook and Etsy! Definitely check her out for your printing needs!
Mattie's Merch page is up and running. This is a preorder, so we'll tally the orders here in a few weeks and get them shipped or delivered.
Thanks for loving my girl and making her little merch heart happy.
Feeling grateful at the farmhouse,
"I'm not a runner."
"I'd rather sit on my couch."
"Ha! The gym? Me? Riiiight..."
This used to be how I talked about exercise.
I used to joke about the fact that if people saw me running, they might want to run too because I was likely being chased by something scary.
And then one day, with the encouragement of my sisters-in-law, I decided I might try it.
I used the app "Couch to 5K" and I got to where I was able to jog a whole mile. It wasn't a fast mile, but it was more than I had ever been able to jog without stopping in my entire life.
This was a huge accomplishment for me.
Shortly after I built up this endurance, we found out we were expecting our third daughter.
I was pretty sick for a little while and ended up giving up the running dream until after she was born.
I was shocked at how much I missed running in those last few months of pregnancy.
After I was fully-recovered from my caesarean section and able to leave her for a little while, I started jogging again.
Between 2015 and 2018, I would run for a little while, then fall off the wagon.
My running commitment wasn't really a commitment, but more like a hobby that I would pick up every so often.
Finally, in the summer of 2019, I really got serious about it and started doing a 5K each month.
During the "Run for the Tree Kangaroos" race at the Kansas City Zoo in September, I injured my hip and had to take a pretty significant break.
In March of 2020, just as COVID-19 was starting to make its rounds, I started taking daily walks to clear my mind after school. Being in school administration during a global pandemic is something that takes up a lot of headspace.
These walks were mentally and emotionally healthy, but also started to bring back the positive feelings that I had associated with running in the past.
I love looking at the homemade medal hanger almost as much as I enjoy sifting through all of the medals for the races I did in 2020.
I've set a goal for myself of 20 5Ks in 2021, along with four 10Ks.
Maybe I'll work up to that half-marathon I've been dreaming about for the last few years.
We'll see about the half-marathon, but either way -- today I can say with confidence, "I am a runner."
Taking life one jog at a time here at the farmhouse,
I love the first day of the year.
I love flipping the calendar over to start a new month.
I love August, the beginning of the new school year.
I love Mondays.
I really love any chance I have to start over.
And so this year -- instead of focusing on New Year's Resolutions for 2021, I've decided to set a few big annual goals and then zoom in and focus on resolutions for every single week this year.
52 weeks to set specific goals.
52 weeks to track success and struggles & make adjustments.
52 chances to start again.
We've been having family meetings for a little over a year on almost every Sunday evening. We plan the menu for the week, look at the upcoming events on the calendar, talk about things we need to get done at home, and tell stories about our weeks.
We will change it and print it each week.
Hopefully, we'll mark everything off of the list, but if not -- it's not to hard to just transfer it to the next week.
We just want to be more intentional with how we are moving towards our faith, family, financial, and career goals.
Hopefully this will be one more tool that we can use to grow in 2021.
Ready for Week 1 of 2021 Growth here at the Farmhouse,
Over Christmas break, I spent some time researching some intentional journaling ideas for 2021.
One of the ideas I found all over Pinterest was doing a "one line a day" journal.
The basic premise is that you write down ONE line in a journal each day of the year.
Happy almost 2021 from the Farmhouse, friends,
I am sitting here in my quiet kitchen, reflecting on 2020 and looking ahead to 2021.
Wasn't 2020 just absolutely insane?
There is no way that I can sum up our experiences this year in one simple blog post.
Our family spent 6 weeks in quarantine, due to COVID-19. Harlee and Matthew spent 8 weeks, I contracted the virus in September and am still fighting some of the symptoms right now...four months later.
So many friends of our lost family members to this terrible virus and we are still praying for them every day.
A tornado blew our barn away and caused some damage to our house and several other buildings on our property. However, this unfortunate circumstance truly jumpstarted some pretty big property improvements.
We rebuilt the barn, fenced in our property, built the Rustic Rooster (a loft playhouse for the girls), and are almost finished with our detached garage...complete with a kitchen, workout space, and bathroom.
When school started in August, I totally fell off of the blogging wagon (again), but learned a lot about leading a school during a global pandemic.
It's been a year to remember and I would be lying if I said I wasn't ready to forget most of 2020 and move forward.
One of my 2021 goals is to blog every week, so look for a post soon about my word-of-the-year.
Love, grace, and peace from the farmhouse tonight, friends,
So we did.
Now -- I can't complain.
My brother and then his wife contracted the virus. While they did feel kind of crummy for a few days, they experienced mostly mild symptoms as they stayed at home. However, because of the dates of exposure and symptoms and all the rules & recommendations from the CDC, my niece and nephew have to quarantine until August 15th. So -- please be in prayer for them!
Full disclosure here -- as a school administrator, the last six months have been a blur.
I have said several times that I feel like we are living in a movie. This doesn't seem like real life, as we make decisions about how to deliver instruction to children in the safest way over the next school year.
While my 10 1/2 month school-year contract officially ends on June 15th and begins again on August 1st each year, this summer there have been too many decisions to make to really take much of a break.
And then...quarantine happened.
Sure, I continued to work on giving input for school reopening plans and I did continue focusing on some of my school duties over the last few weeks.
But I also spent many hours every single day over the last two weeks working alongside Mr. Farmhouse and the girls to complete projects that we have been planning to get to "someday".
Not being able to leave the house for two weeks isn't ideal.
If we weren't in quarantine, I wouldn't have had to cancel our annual well-child checkups for the girls, piano lessons, & tutoring.
Mr. Farmhouse could have been working and I wouldn't have had to miss a few in-person meetings at school.
We could have allowed being stuck at home for two weeks with no symptoms to be irritating and a reason to complain.
However, last night, as Mr. Farmhouse and I rode the Ranger through the field moving hot-wire for the cows, I looked around and smiled.
Thank you, Lord, for this time we have had together. Thanks for slowing us down and giving us the opportunity to connect deeply before we all head off into the unknown of this school year. Thank you that my brother's family has had mild symptoms and that they have the opportunity to work from home. Just thank you, Lord. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen
Back to the real world today, friends.
Sending gratitude to God from the farmhouse,
Back before COVID-19 hit, I was part of a "supper swap" group with some girlfriends.
Hot meals on the table five nights a week and I was only responsible for ONE of them.
And if I'm being completely honest, it was nothing short of amazing.
While we're not completely "opened up" from our stay-at-home orders yet, I still want to share this concept for those of you that might be looking for a way to save a little money and eat at home more often once we're free to be out and about.
1. Form Your Supper Swap Group
Our Supper Swap group included my sisters-in-law, a few friends, and my mom.
For us, having five families in our group worked best. We each cooked one night per week. On the weekends, we ate leftovers and cooked for our own families.
Before we began this process, we listed out how many servings each family would need, any allergies, and any dislikes.
2. Fill out the Supper Swap Calendar
We used Google Docs to fill out our Supper Swap template. I put the dates in ahead-of-time and then the members of our group went in and decided what date each week would work for them to cook.
We also shared what meals we were planning on making. Our meals consisted of a main dish and one or two sides. Sometimes the side dishes were already cooked and sometimes, we would send canned goods for the family to fix. Every once in a while, someone would send a dessert, as well.
Another thing to discuss with your group is how each family will get their food.
For my family, my mom's house was a central location with an accessible refrigerator right inside the back door. So our group just made sure all the food was at her house by 4:00 each evening. Each family was responsible for picking up their own supper package.
Some other families might do a drop-off, where the family that cooks takes the meals around to the various families, depending on how close you all live to each other.
A third option might be for each family to pick up their own meals at the cook's house each night.
This is something your group will need to work out. My sister-in-law and I live very close together, so every once in a while, we would just grab both meals for both families. One of our friend's kids rode the bus that my sister-in-law drives, so sometimes she would just drop her meal off with the kids!
Just think about your options and develop a plan early on so everyone in the group knows what to expect and what is expected of her.
4. Get to Work!
Now it's time to put in the work! To prepare for this venture, we all bought some reusable casserole dishes and plastic containers to share amongst the group. By doing this, we weren't always worried about getting dishes back to the owner. We just cooked in them the following week and passed them all around.
After your calendar is filled out and your reusable containers are purchased, it's time to start cooking once a week and grab a hot meal the rest of the week from someone else!
If you commit to having your meals ready for your friends once a week and putting forth the effort to make this concept work, I promise you will really enjoy this process!
5. Tweak the Process and Start Again
After your first week or two, you'll notice some things that you might need to change for the future. It's no big deal to just be in contact with your friends and make those changes right away or as you go into the new month. Just remember to be flexible with the process and to take good notes about what did and didn't work!
Bulk cooking takes a little bit of preparation, but by the second or third week, you'll fall into a rhythm.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments or over on Facebook that I missed here!
Looking forward to starting the Supper Swap again soon,
I had found extra motivation by keeping track of the books I read in 2020 through the Goodreads Reading Challenge, so I was interested to see how this might transfer over to my other desired habits.
I decided to start tracking all of the goals I was working towards and see if I made more progress when I was monitoring.
Sure enough, Gretchen Rubin was right.
I started to track everything using a simple app called Done.
In the last few weeks, when I haven't felt like walking or drinking all of my water, this app has kept me on track.
Checkmarks on a scratch piece of paper could do the job, too.
The point isn't the WAY you're tracking, it's that you make the effort to track.
Tracking every day leads to streaks in certain habits.
Streaks in certain habits leads to extra motivation to keep that streak going.
I'm adding a new habit to my tracking list today -- blogging once a week.
One week down. ✅
Monitoring my habits here in the farmhouse,