31 Days of Self-Care - Introduction

I am so excited to announce that I will be participating in 31 Days again this year!

This will be my fourth year participating, which is kind of crazy to think about.  The first year I wrote about Intentional Living, year two was Back to Basics, and then last year was Preparing for Baby #3

I love the premise of the 31 Days project.  To pick a topic and write about only that for 31 days is a challenge.  Heck, writing anything for 31 days is a challenge, but then for it to be centered on one topic, it is a huge challenge.

When I thought about my 31 Days project for this year, honestly, I couldn’t think of anything.  Then I had a few minutes to sit down and think without interruption – that doesn’t happen a lot as a mom of three little ones.  While I was sitting, I realized that it was blissful, and that I needed to do more of it.

That is when my topic came to me – 31 Days of Self-Care.

For every day in October I will be writing about self-care.  Now, I don’t want you to think I am an expert in this area, I am most definitely not.  In fact it will be much more of a story, my story, and my journey to self-care with some tips along the way. 

I am really excited for the month, and I think I have some great content to share with you all. 

This blog post is going to act as a landing page for all of my 31 Days blog posts for 2015.  Each day I will come back and put up a link to the current days blog post.  I hope that you will join me!

TB Blood Test Feature

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for the TB Blood Test. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

As soon as the kids start going back to school, our days become extremely busy.  It seems like every other day there is a doctor’s appointment to go to, a sports practice, a field trip; it is busy!

I try to combine appointments and outings as much as possible.  With three little ones, going to the doctor’s office is a challenge, and we prefer to stay out of there as much as possible.

Do you remember getting a TB skin test?  Not fun, right?  First you have to go in and have them poke you, and then you have to go back a week later for them to check the spot.  With three kids, that can become a bit tedious – three appointments will turn into six, and we can write off productivity for a couple weeks.

I was really interested to hear that there is a new TB blood test.  It can help diagnose tuberculosis and is the only available method that is completely objective.  When you have the skin test, you rely on visual interpretation.

The skin test is also known to give a false positive.  If you have had the tuberculosis vaccine in the past, it can often still show a raised lump on the test site, which is what shows whether or not you are infected with tuberculosis. 

For peace of mind with my kids, I would definitely prefer something that is an objective and accurate result.

With the TB blood test you will get:

·       The most accurate reading with no cross reaction from a previous TB vaccination
·       Only a small blood draw of 3ml regardless of age and immune status
·       The convenience of just one visit to your doctor

I know that I will be asking about this option the next time we have to go to the doctor’s office for a visit!  It seems like a great option and a real advance from the previous skin test.

If you would like to find out more information about the TB blood test, you can visit their website here

Have you heard of the TB blood test before?

*I am not a doctor.  The information in this post is not meant to replace the information you receive from your health professionals.  This is only my opinion, and in no way should replace what you have discussed with your own health care providers.  Please refer to them for any changes in your health care regimen.*

Changing the Sheets

We had our first frost this past weekend.  It was a little jarring to me, especially considering it had been so warm just a couple weeks ago.  I am always looking forward to the change in seasons, but it always seems to catch me off guard – except summer, summer never seems to show up when I want it to!

I absolutely love the fall.  I think it might be my favorite season; although I think that every season is my favorite at the beginning.

This time last year I was in the final stretch before Miss Lucy would arrive, and it was a bit of a blur really.  And now, here we are again, almost to her 1st birthday, and it seems crazy how fast the past year has gone!

I have been in the mood for baking and cooking again, something I don’t really want to do in the summer.  I love to have a pot of soup on the stove simmering away all day.  It truly is amazing to watch water and veggies turn into something delicious by the end of the day!

I realized that with the change in seasons, I was thinking more about hunkering down for winter.  The things that we need to do around the house to be ready for when the cold arrives.

It reminded me that I should be revisiting some of my goals from earlier in the year.

I know that January is the typical time to set goals, to figure out where you want your year to go, what you plan to accomplish, but I feel like by the time the end of the year gets here, all the goals are essentially either lost or they have become habits.

Goal setting in fall seems like an odd thing, not quite the same as the newness of a new year, but it has been something on my mind.

Not the typical goal setting – “I will go to the gym every day!” but all of the seasonal shift goals. 

Perhaps I am just ready to change the sheets, put on the heavy blankets and buckle down for our longest season.

Getting out the warm blankets, making sure the pantry is stocked with plenty of dry beans and lentils, and putting vegetable stock and chicken stock in the freezer.  Planting my garlic. 

I am feeling incredibly introspective this morning.  Maybe because we are coming up on Lucy’s first birthday, maybe because of the change in seasons, maybe because of how busy we have been and will continue to be right through the end of the year.

It does make me want to sit back a bit and figure out what I need to work on in the next few months, even though they are going to be busy.  Is it possible to feel like nesting when you aren’t pregnant?  Maybe this is making up for the fact that I didn’t feel at all like nesting when I was pregnant with Lucy.

What are you working on right now?  Have you changed your bedding over to winter yet?

A Sick Day

What is it about the change in seasons that causes everyone to get sick?  It seems like as soon as all the kids go back to school, the sicknesses begin!

It definitely hit our house yesterday.

Jack woke us up around 4am saying he didn't feel well.  Matt got him back to bed, and I ended up getting up for the day.  I was having an incredibly productive morning, and then Matt came downstairs after Jack had gotten sick all over him.  

The laundry and baths began, and the day was quite different than how I had envisioned!

I had nothing in the house for sick babies.  I wasn't prepared.

Luckily, my mom lives close by and was able to make a grocery run for me (thanks mom!).

I realize that no matter what kind of sickness comes through our home, I always turn to the same home remedies that I always do, things that gave me comfort when I was sick as a child as well.

What are those items?

First up Campbell's Chicken and Rice or Chicken Noodle Soup.  What is it about these little red cans that helps us feel better?  I know that there is a definite benefit to chicken broth, or bone broth in general, and having some on hand in the freezer is a must for the winter months.

Next on my list is Ginger Ale.  This is obviously the first thing we try after any of the kids have some sort of stomach issues.  Stir out the bubbles and it is a delicious ginger syrupy drink that the kids would probably drink all day if I let them!

Premium Saltine Crackers - the best saltines there are, and we can go through sleeves of these when we are under the weather.  And they are perfect in the chicken noodle soup when we are back on more solid foods!

Finally, electrolyte freezer pops.  OK, this one isn't one that I had growing up.  But, it is something we give the kids now.  Water is harsh on their stomachs, but we don't want them to become dehydrated, and they think this is a treat, so it works well for us.

Today will be a relatively low-key day with stories and movies, a perfect day for cuddling on the couch after a very long day of sickness yesterday.

What are your go-to remedies for when your littles are sick?

Stylish Affordable Maternity Clothes Delivered to Your Door! #BGStyle

I participated in a Blog Blast Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Bella Gravida. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

How hard is it finding stylish and comfortable maternity clothes? – pretty hard!  Your body is constantly changing and you essentially need to buy new items every couple of months.  

Bella Gravida (meaning Beautifully Pregnant in Italian) understands the need for comfort and style.

For a flat monthly fee (as low as $39 per month), Bella Gravida will provide you with a revolving wardrobe of thousands of designer choices, from maternity through nursing.  They do this with unlimited exchanges and free shipping!

The fact is, maternity clothes are expensive, and to have a service which you can use to pick from dozens of designers (including Kate Middleton’s maternity wear designer!), have them delivered to your door, use them as long as you want and then return them in the provided mailer, what is not to love?!

Check out Bella Vida at their newly launched website and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

What was your biggest challenge with maternity clothes?

knitting and reading

I am failing miserably at knitting recently.  I am just accepting it and trying to move on!  You can see why I am not able to commit the time in some of my recent vlogs:

I guess that isn't such a bad reason for not doing a whole lot of knitting!  I am trying to make time here and there, but more often than not it doesn't happen.  Maybe I am in a season of not knitting?  I don't know.

I am still knitting the little green runner that I plan to put on my book shelf upstairs.  I haven't even started the hats that I knit every fall for the kids.  Since today is the first day of fall, and the past several mornings have been in the 40's, I probably should work on those! Actually I don't have yarn for them yet...so maybe today we will take a field trip to the yarn store.  That can count as homeschooling, right?

Honestly, I need to get a list of Christmas knitting nailed down so that I can figure out how I will accomplish that before December 25th.

One thing I am really excited about is that my mom brought me home a blanket from my Nana's house.  She can't remember if it is one that she made or my Nana, but regardless, I love to have such a special blanket in my home.  I didn't even know that my Nana knew how to crochet! You learn something new every day.  I knew that my mom had knit and used to sew all of my clothes when I was little, but I do not have any pieces that she made, so this blanket is very special to me.  Plus, WARM!

My reading has been mainly books with the kids and my Bible lately.  Trying to glean as much wisdom as I can.  Actually, my husband decided to read through the Bible this year, and I have been thinking about starting as well.  I have done it before, actually 3 times, but not in several years.  It seems like more of a "New Year" goal, but I guess I don't need to wait until the start of a new year to make a goal!

What are you knitting and reading?  Are you up to your eyeballs in Christmas knitting yet?

DITL of a Homeschooling Mama with Three Littles

As we move into the end of September, I decided it might be fun to do a day in the life post.  I always enjoy seeing these types of posts from other bloggers and vloggers, so I thought I would do one.  Let’s get started!

5am – I always strive to wake up before my kids.  I know that my day runs 100 times smoother if I do.  I was on my game last night and set the coffee pot up to brew so it would be ready and waiting for me this morning.  A little tip, if you have that option, and you like coffee in the morning, set it so it is completely finished brewing when you come down to the kitchen.  I set mine for 4:45, so by the time I drag myself downstairs, it is ready and waiting for me.

I take the opportunity to brush my teeth and wash my face quickly.  Then I grab my coffee, my Bible and journal, and sit down to have my quiet time.

I am still a part of a wonderful morning study group through HelloMornings.  If you aren’t involved in this type of accountability group, I highly recommend it.  It definitely helps me to know that there are several other ladies up early and discussing our Bible study and general life together. 

I also take this time to go over my plan for the day.  I look through my Erin Condren Life Planner to see what I have on the docket for the day, as well as put in anything that I can think of that I need to do.  I also go over what I need to do for school for the day.

6am – Lucy woke up!  Actually she woke up crying which is not typical for her.  I think perhaps she was cold because it was only 45 degrees out this morning and we had the windows open.  She woke up pretty much as soon as I opened my laptop to work on writing…it’s funny how that seems to happen!

7:15am – The kids are up and ready to eat.  I can’t believe they slept so late!  Emma is usually up by 6am every day!  I think the field hockey on Sunday evenings must be wearing her out, yay!  However, Emma is immediately starving, and I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done because Miss Lucy has been a bit crabby this morning.

I have to get breakfast for Emma – she needs to eat immediately when she wakes up.  It is oatmeal.  I make it every day for the kids, oatmeal with whole milk and frozen blueberries and strawberries with a drizzle of maple syrup.  The kids love it, and I am happy they are getting something nutritious for breakfast.

7:30am – I go to use the elliptical.  I get 30 minutes in.  This is new and needs to stay a regular part of my routine.

8:30am – I get a shower (yes!) and then come out to find that Lucy has made a mess in her diaper…and it is all over the pack and play.  Lots of cleanup before school starts.

9:03am – the kids sit down for school.  Jack finishes his math and reading and copy work super fast, so he is off playing.  Emma does her devotion and Bible reading, and is spending the next however long on her math lesson.  She gets distracted a lot, and with Jack playing and Lucy jumping in the exersaucer, it doesn’t take much!

During the time the kids are working on school, I am working on getting my blog post and video up – my first PopSugar Must Have Subscription Box unboxing.  I’m also trying to find that cup of coffee I thought I poured for myself earlier…apparently I didn’t pour it…or it has disappeared into the abyss. 

11:30am – Lucy fell asleep so I am moving her upstairs to take a nap.  I come back down to do some reading with the kids.  We are reading a book called The Candymakers, which the kids are really enjoying, and I am as well.  We also read a book called Apples for our apple unit.  The kids need to come up with some facts to put in their apple project books.

12:30pm – The kids are done with school and are now playing outside in “Kidonia.”  They watched an episode of Arthur where the kids created a land where there were no chores and no adults called Kidonia, and so now my kids created something similar outside under our big tree.  I’m taking this moment to try and get a few things picked up around the house, and get some dishes done.

1:30pm – I’m making lunch now because the kids didn’t want to eat earlier – we are having tuna sandwiches.

For the rest of the afternoon the kids are mainly playing outside and I am working inside on chores and cleaning up as well as starting dinner.  I didn’t have to make dinner today because the kids decided they didn’t want to eat their sandwiches when I made them, so they were able to have those for dinner and Matt and I had leftover soup.

8pm – All the kids are in bed and I am exhausted!  It is a long and full day every day, but it is definitely enjoyable.  Now Matt and I will sit down and chat and flip through the channels.  Matt tried to get me to watch the season premiere of Doctor Who, but since I refuse to ever watch that show, we end up watching HGTV and wondering how the people afford a $500k+ mortgage…

That was my day.  I hope you had fun!  Most of my days are the same; we spend most of the morning on school and then most of the afternoon playing while I clean up around the house.  It might not seem very exciting, but I enjoy it.  When I am out running errands, it tends to throw off most of the day, so I try to wait until Matt is home to get out and run errands, or do them on the weekends.

What does your typical day look like?

POPSUGAR Must Have Subscription Box

This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through one of my links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

Before I had kids, I loved to pamper myself.  I worked at the Prudential Building in Boston and walked through the Copley Mall every day.  I loved to go to Sephora on my breaks, I loved getting new beauty products.  Then I had kids, and I stopped, although I probably could use a bit more pampering since I have kids!  It helped that there wasn’t a Sephora anywhere close by.

Now, I am trying to get back into more of a beauty routine.  But, I am so out of touch now, that I definitely need help.  I thought a subscription box would be a perfect fit for me, giving me products I could try out and see if I like them.

Of course I am not a beauty blogger, and am not sure I would only want beauty products delivered to me in a monthly subscription, so when I heard about the POPSUGAR Must Have box, I was really excited.

Have you heard of POPSUGAR Must Have subscription boxes?  POPSUGAR describes itself as:

The best in fashion, beauty, home, fitness, food, and more delivered straight to your door.

This subscription box costs $39.95 per month and includes full size products that are valued way more than your subscription cost.  You can pay for more months up front and get a few dollars off the box.

I decided to do a bit of an unboxing on my YouTube channel, and wanted to share some more of the specifics here for those who may be interested.

What inspired us for September?  Travel, Refresh, Fashion Fix, Beauty Recovery, To-Go Snacks, XOXO.

The first item is the Hudson + Bleecker Labyrinth Onyx Travel Trio.  This is a really cute makeup bag that also contains two drawstring bags for shoes and intimates.  I really like the print!  Very cute. – Suggested Retail - $42

Next Nourish Snacks Almond to CherriesMy kids and I all split this snack, and it was delicious!  We love nuts and dried fruit, I think it makes a perfect snack, and this didn’t disappoint.  I don’t often find dried cherries at the grocery store, I typically have to go to the health food store, and I love them.  – Suggested Retail - $2

Too Faced Cosmetics Brow Envy Brow Shaping & Defining Kit.  I said in my video, and I will say it again here, I am not a beauty person!  I am not someone who spends a lot of time on my hair and makeup.  I am a mom with three little ones, one of whom enjoys pulling hair, so I try to keep it relatively simple.  Even when I was going to Sephora all the time, I wasn’t using a ton of makeup.  I am much more about subtle.  However, I also realize that I am getting older and want to take more time to do makeup etc.  I have never done anything beyond getting my eyebrows waxed, but this looks really cool!

It has stencils that you can use for different brow shapes as well as setting wax and some little tools to use.  I am looking forward to trying this out, and know that with the holidays coming, there will be plenty of opportunity for me to get dressed up.  My favorite part?  The instruction booklet – I am going to need it!  Suggested Retail - $39

Briogeo Rosarco Milk Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray.  This I was really excited about.  My hair gets really dry in the winter, and so does Emma’s.  No matter what I do, there is so much static!  I think that this will definitely help to keep my hair more manageable.  I love that it is made with argan, rose hip, and coconut oils.  It smells amazing!  Suggested Retail - $20

Kris Nations “XO” Stud EarringsThese are really cute earrings.  They are cut from recycled brass and plated with 14k gold.  Super cute and Emma wants them.  Of course she doesn’t have her ears pierced, so she wanted me to wear them immediately.  I like that they are studs – less likely to be ripped from my ears by Miss Lucy Lu!  Suggested Retail - $35

Last in the box is NCLA So Rich Vitamin-E Enriched Cuticle Oil.  I was really excited to see this in the box because I had just thought to myself the day before that I needed to get some sort of cuticle oil.  I am constantly washing my hands (baby in diapers, people!) and as the air gets drier, my hands suffer.  I am super excited to use this!  Suggested Retail - $18

As you can see, the total suggested retail of the box is $156!  I think that is a pretty good subscription box right there!  I love that the products are full size products, not samples, and I love the variety.  Like I said before, I’m not sure a straight up beauty box would work for me, but something that contains a bunch of lifestyle favorites definitely appeals to me!

If you are interested, I have two, $10 off your first box coupon codes.  I will give them to the first two people who e-mail me at hello@townsend-house.com

Do you have any box subscriptions?  What is your favorite snack?

This is not a sponsored post, I was just really excited to share something new with you all!

Our Homeschool Week Wrap up and Happy Mail!

It has been quite a busy week here at Townsend House!  We have had a good week, but I haven't finished nearly the amount of school that I was planning.  

Wednesday morning I had a little trip to the eye doctor and decided to have my eyes dilated, since I haven't done that for quite some time.  Of course, I completely forgot about not being able to see close up for several hours after they are dilated.  I also was fitted for a new contact subscription.  So not only could I not see close up, but I was getting a headache from adjusting to a new prescription.

Here is a little video of my morning craziness!

Then yesterday we had a little trip to the library in the morning to meet up with some friends.  It was a lot of fun, and the kids definitely blew off some energy, but coming home around lunch time kind of derailed the afternoon a bit.  I was trying to get Lucy to take her one nap, the kids were reading their new books, and math was not high on the priority list!

Do you ever feel like it is easier to call it a day, and start again the next morning?  

That is how I felt yesterday.  

I was able to get dinner in the crock pot first thing in the morning though, chicken chili.

Today is a new day though!  And will be a catch up day.  There are a lot of weeks when we only do school four days a week so that Friday can be a free day.  This week we did minimal school on two days, so today is going to be a full day of work.

The beauty of homeschooling - flexibility!  

I also received some packages in the mail, which always makes me happy!  And bonus, they were here earlier than I expected.  Part of it was the Book It! package for homeschooling.

I love getting snail mail, and honestly rarely get it these days (besides the junk mail and bills).  Actually, I rarely send snail mail as well...so perhaps that is why I don't get any!  The kids love getting letters in the mail as well.

Part of their writing for this year will be pen pal letters, mainly because they keep writing letters to their cousins and friends from church and expecting me to mail them out everyday.  They don't quite grasp the fact that mailing one letter costs a good ol' 49 cent stamp, and when they stuff their envelopes full of other things (Jack wanted to mail his cousin Riley a couple of his army men) it adds quite a bit to the cost of the letter!  So we are trying to reign in the amount of letters that are sent out, and also working on having them be longer than two sentences.  

Instead, they have set up mailboxes outside their bedrooms and randomly deliver letters and toys to one another.

Now to get back to our regularly scheduled day!

How is your new fall routine going?  Are you making any adjustments?

Back to School with Teenage Drivers #BetterMoments

This is a sponsored post on behalf of U.S. Cellular.  I am a member of the #BetterMoments Blogger Brigade.  While I was compensated for this post, the opinions are all my own.  I only truly recommend products and services that I use myself.  

Are you feeling back on track with your school routine yet?  I know that we are still easing into it, and we started 6 weeks ago!  It seems like every morning is different, and making sure the kids are ready for the day is a struggle, especially with the beautiful weather we have been having.  They want to play outside all day instead of sitting to do school…and honestly I sometimes agree!

Back to school also brings a lot of changes to the roads.  There are more teen drivers out driving to school.

I was not one who had a car in high school.  I had no need really, I lived so close I could walk easily, but man, I wish I had a car to drive to school.  Luckily, most of my friends did have cars, and they were so kind to pick me up so I wouldn’t have to walk in the freezing cold winter weather we have in Maine.

Of course, when I was in high school we did not have nearly the amount of distraction of teen drivers today.  Between texting and talking on cell phones (apparently I was born in the prehistoric era, I didn’t even have a cell phone until I went to college!), there are a lot of interruptions that can happen for teen drivers. 

We want everyone to be safe.

U.S. Cellular provides a high-quality network that keeps customers connected, and has several resources that can help families with young drivers have peace of mind.

The first resource is the Parent-Child Agreement.  This agreement helps start the conversation between you and your child on how they will use their cell phone.  I think that this is incredibly important.  Kids need to know your expectations about cell phone usage.  You may think that your teen is smart enough not to be texting and driving, but unless you make that connection to them – the dangers of it – they may not even think of it.  Not because they are not smart, but because kids don’t often think of the consequences of actions until after they have them.

This agreement is also great to demonstrate to your kids that you are following the same rules.  Don’t expect your teen to not text while driving if you do text while driving.  It is obviously important to model the behavior that you want your teen to exhibit in the same situations.  I definitely recommend downloading this agreement and discussing it with your kids.

Another amazing tool that U.S. Cellular offers is the U.S. Cellular Vehicle Monitoring System.

This system allows parents the location of the vehicle as well as if there are any mechanical issues with the car.  After you put on the easy-to-install module, you can use the app on your iPhone 6 to check the location of the vehicle on a map, and track and interpret engine codes to be aware of mechanical issues.

It is kind of amazing what my iPhone is capable of these days! 

I think these are great options for parents of teen drivers.  I know it would certainly give me peace of mind!

What types of rules do you have with your kids about cell phone usage?

Fall Sports!

It never fails; the busyness of fall always seems to approach.  A lot of people believe that because we are homeschoolers we aren’t busy.  That really isn’t accurate.

Yes, we do not have to be out the door first thing in the morning, but the extracurricular activities are always there, and that makes our evenings a little crazy!

Yesterday we signed Emma up for Field Hockey.  This will be her first year participating in this sport.

I’m actually really excited about it.  I played in junior high, and I loved it!  My mother’s helper (who sadly has moved on to a real job now) plays varsity at the high school in our community, and helped some with the clinic yesterday.  I know that is part of the reason Emma is excited to play, she definitely looks up to Kallie!

Field Hockey runs right into Basketball, which starts at the beginning of November.  This will be the first year we have two children involved in activities, and honestly I am scared.

I know how busy it gets when we have Emma in her activities, and then to add one more child to the mix. 

Matt and I had the conversation about over-scheduling our kids.  Since we homeschool, we seem to have “unlimited time.”  Instead of knowing we need to be in school between certain hours, and make sure we have time for homework etc. we have a little more freedom with our schedule.  It is easy to think, oh, it is only a few nights each week, but what ends up happening is we are all coming and going, and that is hard for me as a mom and especially as an introvert.

We decided that we wanted the kids to participate in only one activity at a time.  So right now, that is Field Hockey for Emma, and then it will be Basketball for both Emma and Jack.

As I write that, I’m not sure how we will accomplish that.  Emma also wants to be in Brownies this year, she and Jack are both interested in 4-H, and I want them to take piano lessons.  There is the co-op we are interested in joining and the extra field trips.  The play group at the Farmers' Market is in there as well.  So, the one activity per season doesn’t seem realistic.  Perhaps it is because we are homeschoolers that all that extra is involved.

I think we, as parents, want our kids to have as much opportunity as possible.  It seems like the amount of scheduling for our kids is so much more than when I was younger.  I don’t want to overwhelm them, I also don’t want them to feel left out because their friends are involved in so many activities. 

Where is the line? 

I’m not sure.  I know that last fall was incredibly busy, between bringing home a new baby, Emma having piano, Daisies (Girl Scouts), and basketball.  The weekends were full, the evenings were full, and I was definitely sleep deprived!

It is all a balancing act.

I am so looking forward to this fall, and the beginning of the crazy busy again.  But, it is definitely an adjustment after the long lazy days of summer.  This is all so new to me and I am trying to find my way the best I can, and doing what is best for my kids and family. 

How do you balance activities in your home?  Do your kids participate in everything?  Do you have a limit per season?

The Luxury of Failure

This morning I was thinking about how I didn’t order tomatoes for canning.  In the back of my mind I knew I wasn’t going to call and order tomatoes, and had none from a garden, but I was still telling myself I would be canning over Labor Day weekend.  I obviously didn’t.

It made me start thinking about some other failures that I have had lately – mainly my many homeschooling plans and having to weed out some of the extra so we have time for the essential. 

Looking at all the things I want to accomplish is kind of crazy.  I know that I can’t do all.the.things., yet I still strive to; I keep making those goals.

I realized then that I have the luxury of failure.

I didn’t preserve much of anything this year – OK rhubarb, rhubarb is the only thing I preserved.  I would say that is a local eating failure, especially going into the winter. 

But, wait, I have an amazing farmers’ market in town that I can still go to and get local food.  When I fail at going to the farmers’ market (let’s be honest, I never make it to the farmers’ market), I can still get local food at the co-op.  And if I fail at local food (often, I often fail at eating local), I can go to the grocery store. 

Even though I was unable to get my act together and plant a garden, or even preserve the bounty of food available in my area before the winter, I am not going to be hungry this winter. 

I know that I often look at the failures in my life and feel defeated; I can’t be the only one.  But, I have to remember that failure is a luxury. 

With food, I can get food at the grocery store; I can always plant a garden next year.  It isn’t like 150 years ago when if I didn’t plant a garden, I most likely would go hungry in the winter.  If I make too many homeschooling plans, but my baby decides she doesn’t want to nap anymore (yes, this is happening right now) we can change course, and adjust what we are doing.  I don’t have to be concerned about my children not learning, because we still have so many resources available, even if I don’t complete all the extra, unlike so many around the world who have zero access to any learning materials.

If I fail at my goals, it isn’t the end of the world; it means in this season of life I might not be able to accomplish those specific things, not that it will never happen, but instead not right now.  I still have the luxury of dreaming and knowing that I have the opportunities that many do not.

When I think of the state of the world, knowing that I have so much freedom, so much opportunity, I realize that I have the luxury of failure.  Not that failure will completely turn my life upside down. 

I know that I am often hard on myself for not completing something I felt like I needed to complete, but I need to give myself grace for those failures, and realize that I am lucky that it doesn’t have a real, negative impact on me.

On blogs we see so much positivity, and sometimes forget that not everything is what it seems.  I think we should start sharing some of our struggles as a community.  I think that would be helpful to one another, knowing we aren’t alone in our struggles, but also able to see the numerous blessings that can come from those failures.

Where is all of this coming from?  Well, watching too much news of course!

This is not a political blog, it isn’t a world issues blog, it is a lifestyle and family blog; but I feel like with everything going on in the world I have to count my blessings instead of complaining about not getting tomatoes canned this year, or not completing the extra project I had planned for the kids in August. 

I also feel the need to pull back the curtain a bit more.  To show that we all have failures; and it is OK.  We have luxury in those failures because it really isn’t the end of the world for most of us.  Not everything you see on the internet is really that perfect life.  There are always struggles, there are always failures, and it is choosing what we want shown. 

I think that the positivity is definitely needed, but it shouldn’t become a false representation of life.  Blogs, Vlogs, pictures; they are all just a snippet of real life.  Know that I have the same failures that you have, and know that I want to encourage you through them!

Do you have the luxury of failure in your life?  Do you give yourself grace in those times of feeling not quite accomplished enough?

Dark Rising by Monica McGurk review

I was extremely excited when Monica McGurk contacted me to see if I would like to review the second book in The Archangel Prophesies trilogy – Dark RisingI, of course, said yes!  If you are interested in reading my review of the first book in the trilogy, Dark Hope, you can find that here.

We pick up right where Dark Hope left off.  Hope is on the run with the Archangel Michael, who is sworn to protect Heaven at all costs, but he has given that up to follow Hope as she searches for an Ancient Artifact.  

In the beginning we don’t know if he is trying to protect her or if he is trying to push her away.  Their dynamic is really quite interesting after reading the first book.  Here is the Archangel Michael, sworn to protect the human race, and instead of doing that, he has decided to run after a girl he can’t decide if he loves or hates, leaving the rest of the world to the fallen angels.

A little background; Hope is branded with a mark on her neck which makes her a key part of an ancient prophecy, the bearer of the Key.  The Fallen Angels have misinterpreted this as she actually being the key – the key to get them back into Heaven so they can take over.

This is a great follow up book to her first in the series.  I sometimes feel like the second book in a trilogy can be a bit long, but this one was great!  I love to see all the imagery of the places in Europe where they are searching for the artifact that will actually open Heaven’s Gates. 

Monica does  a great job of incorporating the trafficking of girls and women, and oftentimes we don’t know if the Fallen Angels are on Hope’s tail or if it is the traffickers that she thwarted in the first book. 

This is a pretty fast paced book, and a quick read.  I enjoy watching the struggle of Michael, wanting to protect the humans he loves so dearly, but also being conflicted with his feelings for Hope.  The attitude of the other angels that are with their little band is an interesting dynamic as well, where they could care less about Hope’s life. 

Overall, awesome follow up!  I can’t wait to read the third installment!  If you are interested in learning more about The Archangel Prophesies and Monica McGurk, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.  She also has an amazing amount of information on human trafficking on her website, of which she is clearly very passionate about.

I was compensated and provided a free copy of this book in return for my review.  It was not required to be a positive review, and all opinions are my own.  I only recommend products that I actually love, and this is a wonderful book series that fans of young adult fiction will definitely enjoy!

knitting and reading

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I haven’t made much progress on my socks, unfortunately, probably because I decided to cast on something new.  Why do I do that?  Why can’t I finish a project before casting on something new?

This past weekend I spent some time trying to turn a corner of my bedroom into a reading nook.  I have a little white 3-shelf bookshelf that I put next to a recliner.  But, the longer I looked at the bookshelf, the more I thought it needed some type of fancy runner for the top of it.  So that is what I am doing now, knitting a little lace runner for the top of my bookshelf…perhaps by next year it will be finished! <sarcasm here>

As far as my reading goes, I am currently reading a few wonderful books from the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.

Every year the folks over at Ultimate Bundles put together a few awesome e-book/e-course/bonus bundles, and the one that is my favorite is the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.  I like it first of all because there are so many books!  I am always searching for new books to read.  And healthy living is obviously a huge priority for me and my family.

The ones that I am currently reading:

Your Custom Homestead – by Jill Winger of The Prairie Homestead

If you have been reading my blog recently, you will know that we added a new little one to our family at the end of last year.  That kind of threw all of my homesteading plans out the window (we did not replace our chicks, we did not plant a garden, we did not preserve much of anything).  It was kind of jarring to me because I feel like I have been building my little urban homestead for so many years, to just stop was weird.  Now, I am already looking forward to building up again next year, and this book is perfect in meeting me where I am right now, and making plans – you all know how much I love to make plans!

227 Healthy Snacks – by Laura Coppinger of Heavenly Homemakers

My kids are huge on snacks.  I think that kids in general prefer snacks because they have smaller stomachs, and need less to feel full, but want to eat more often.  That is just fine with me, however, I am running out of snack ideas.  If I keep doing the same few over and over, the kids get bored, and so do I.  I am looking forward to trying out a lot of these recipes!  Perfect for back to school!

The Healthy Lunchbox – by Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship

Along the same lines as the snack book above, I am looking for some new lunch recipes.  I have two children that do not like sandwiches (perhaps because I don’t like sandwiches?)  And this book is all about the *not* sandwich lunch.

If you are interested in getting this bundle (you should be!) you can find out more here.  The categories of e-books are Allergy Free, Essential Oils, Fitness and Weight Loss, Healthy Kids, Homesteading, Natural Home, Natural Remedies, Paleo, and Real Food.  There are also tons of bonus offers available. 

I would love to know, if you end up buying a bundle, which book you are most looking forward to!

What are you working on this week?