Tourists for a Day

Yesterday the kiddos and I spend the day downtown. Now that we’re living in the Halfway House, it behooves us to get out of the house for periods of time. School starts next week (more on that later) but for now we are finding ourselves trying to have as much out of the house fun as possible.

Yesterday was really special. I’ve been thinking through how to pay mindful attention to the emotional moments between the children and me, recognizing areas where I’ve been stingy, un-attuned, or numb, and praying and thinking through ways to engage more meaningfully (and naturally). Yesterday was a wonderful day without distractions to hug and laugh with and enjoy and listen to these wonderful humans I have in my world! It’s surprising, really, how willing to give back and reflect the love I spend on them.

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

nashville with kids

Places visited:



We are so enjoying watching our beloved Berryfield go up. I’ve never been involved in building a house before, so the whole process has been pretty incredible and fun. We’re currently living in transition housing (or what we love to call the Halfway House, or sometimes House #2 of 3), so Berryfield cannot go up fast enough!

Here’s where we are at.

2016 Books!

<a href="http://roweadventures viagra rezeptfrei”>25817493It’s my favorite time of the year: looking back through the bookshelves and reliving all my favorite books moments from the year.

I read a lot this year. I think I needed to escape 2016 as much as possible; like I’ve heard from many other people, this year was particularly hard for me. But at any rate, with the exception of one book which may or may not get finished by tomorrow night (The Color Of Lightning, by Paulette Jiles), here is my completed reading list for the past 12 months:

Streams in the Desert by the Rev Mrs Cowman

A Walk in the Woods; Rediscovering America on the Great Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

The Woodland Homestead by Brett McLeod

The Enneagram Made Easy; Discover the 9 Types of People by Renee Baron

I am Malala; The Story of the Girl Who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

Nobody’s Cuter Than You; A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship by Melanie Shankle

Abba’s Child; The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging by Brennan Manning

After You by Jojo Moyes

The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen

The Return of the Prodigal Son; A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen

Furiously Happy; A Funny Book about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Codependent No More by Melody Beattie (I actually read this twice this year!)

Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff (a read aloud with the kids)

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (on audio)

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (on audio)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (on audio)

Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann

Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn

Miss Perigrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Trim Healthy Mama; The Easy-Does-It approach to Vibrant Health and  Slim Waistline by Pearl Barrett and Serene C. Allison

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened; A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Suffering and the Heart of God; How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores by Diane Langberg

Lonely Planet Make My Day London 

Rick Steves London 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany

Daring Greatly; How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown

The Martian by Andy Weir

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Half-Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Self Compassion; The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

A Mile Wide; Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper Faith by Brandon Hatmaker


My favorite books, hands down, were News of the World and The Old Man and the Sea. News of the World was indescribably beautiful, being written by a poet, and The Old Man and the Sea was just intensely powerful and meaningful.

I found a few new authors I loved this year: Jenny Lawson (a bit crude, but laugh-out-loud hilarious), Liane Moriarty (the best one of hers was Big Little Lies, in my opinion. Intricate!), and Jeanette Walls (her books I simply could not put down. Easily the most easily recommendable to anyone). I liked meeting Nouwen and Manning for the first time this year. Beattie’s Codependent No More was easily the most life changing in the bunch. And I look forward to reading more Jiles and Rowell in 2017 (and of course, more Kingsolver, whose full collection belongs on anyone’s shelf).  And, Of Mice and Men: wow.

Of my 2016 collection I would not recommend Hatmaker’s book (sorry!), The Great Gatsby (guys, it killed me to even finish it), or Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You (just skanky).

What were your favorite books of 2016 and recommendations for the new year, and how did you do on your reading goals???

a new school year!

We began our 16/17 school year this week! Today we finished up Day Four and I have high hopes for this year. Last year had it’s ups and downs. So we’ve tweaked (totally changed) some things and regrouped.

Here are the babes on their first day (8/6) in first, 3rd, and 5th grades:

138A9191 138A9196 138A9201138A9198(it was bring your puppy to school day too!)

Because it’s interesting to myself and others: this year, we are using Story of the World, Math-U-See, Apologia, Typing Without Tears/Cursive Without Tears, IEW, and Spelling City.



Over the weekend, Elijah and I took a little trip to Chicago. I knew we’d have fun, as he is a very adventurous and mature traveler, but I underestimated how much he would enjoy it! I think he really needed some time away, and some time to be the only child, to have good talks, and kinda just be spoiled. I think the oldest child of 4 is usually the least likely to be treated like a prince. So I’m really thankful I had the opportunity to do so.

Here we are at the Nashville and Chicago airports:


We dropped our bags off at our hotel and headed off to explore! Thanks, Uber, for the ride! IMG_8282We took the Red Trolley Tour Bus (money not as well spent as I’d like to think… we hardly used it!) to the Shedd Aquarium. It was a good first way to see the city! Elijah had my phone the entire time at the aquarium so I don’t have any pictures of him there. Sorry! IMG_8288 After we left the Shedd, we walked over to the Field Museum. This was my main reason for choosing Chicago as our destination, so I was eager for Elijah to see Sue the T-Rex. IMG_8354 IMG_8361I was not prepared for the extravagant level of taxidermy at the Field Museum, nor have I ever once appreciated the profession until then. Wow! 
IMG_8411Outside the museums is a lakeside-walk. Elijah loved it! 
IMG_8427 IMG_8430 IMG_8431 IMG_8432 We took a mid-afternoon break to check in to our hotel room. Elijah loved the Congress Plaza HotelIMG_8439 Then we walked up to Millennium Park to see the Bean…IMG_8448 … and “popped” in to Garrett’s… IMG_8452 We walked to Giordano’s for Elijah’s first ever Chicago pizza, which he LOVED. I also was able to get a deep dish GF pizza which was amazing. But while we waited for our table, the day caught up with the boy and he totally fell asleep!! (PS. The next night we ate Gino’s pizza, and if you go, don’t bother with Gino’s, go straight for Giordano’s!) IMG_8478IMG_8480After dinner we took a cab back to our hotel and watched some Lord of the Rings. Elijah’s been wanting to watch it, and it’s definitely too mature for Ava and Audrey, so it was a good opportunity to try it out.

The next morning we walked to brunch at The Signature Room, on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building (make reservations if you want to go!). I’d read in Conde Nast that it was a better option than the Willis Tower. We LOVED it. 
IMG_8488 IMG_8489
IMG_8496 IMG_8508 IMG_8510 IMG_8520After brunch we did some shopping for souvenirs on the Magnificent Mile.
IMG_8522 IMG_8524 IMG_8526 We went from there to the Lincoln Park Zoo. It’s free, y’all! IMG_8527We were pretty tired after that, so we went back to the hotel for some rest time (and some more LOTR watching!)

Then we walked to the Buckingham Fountain. It’s so gorgeous!
IMG_8595 IMG_8605 And finished off at the Maggie Daley playground, one the the most enjoyable playgrounds ever. It is worth a trip to Chicago on it’s own!! Check it out if you go with kiddos! IMG_8627Thanks, Chicago, for a great short weekend!!

San Diego

A few weeks ago Josh and I got away on a little business trip together to San Diego. It’s been well over a year since we took a little trip, just the two of us, and we’ve really been needing- in an extra way- some time together.

I love San Diego, and planned a pretty perfect trip, if I do say so.

We stayed on Coronado (thanks to a really great hotel deal). Coronado is the perfect place to stay because you can walk everywhere! So many meal, snack, drink, and coffee options! Plus, of course, there is the beach, and all the amenities your heart could desire at the hotel (Including beach spin! Josh totally quit after the first 10 minutes!!)

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We loved Little Italy. It’s super charming and low key during the daytime. I highly, and I mean highly, recommend ordering a Caffe Emmline at Caffe Italia. You may accidentally drive all the way back to Little Italy on a separate day even though it’s out of the way to get another one. I also loved walking up to Amici Park from India Street and checking out all the old recipes posted around the park!

IMG_7928 IMG_7925

Little Italy at night is bustling! Thankfully there is valet parking, because I’m pretty sure we’d have driven around all night just trying to park the car! We had a wonderful al fresco Italian dinner at Civico 1845.


While we enjoyed a lot of relax-time at our hotel, we also did some hiking and exploring in La Jolla, because how can you not? Lots of seal sightings, too (although I do believe I’m allergic to them!) We also did our kids souvenir shopping on their little shopping strip, and enjoyed a Mexican coke, to which I am now addicted (although I actually haven’t had one since.) La Jolla is beautiful and I can’t help but visit every time I go to San Diego.


We drove from La Jolla down the coast to Point Loma. I really wanted to explore the tide pools and we timed our drive down to arrive at low tide. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip! Totally gorgeous and fun! IMG_7923
After Point Loma, Josh and I drove to Old Town for the obligatory evening at the lovely open-air, Fiesta De Reyes. I love the atmosphere and have never visited San Diego without a trip to old town.

We were especially fortunate to spend some good time on Mission Beach and on Coronado with our dear friends who live outside of LA and have some really good meals with them! That was definitely the highlight.

Until next time, San Diego!!

Our Woodland Homestead

We’re getting ready to get a driveway on The Farm!  This means that we’ve got to nail down where we actually want to build our barn house. So Monday morning was spent out traversing our property with the kids. (Note: Ava refused to get out of the car after her tick/poison ivy experience from last time.)

While I love to think of the farm as The Farm, the realty is that it’s more of a Wooded Homestead (see this book). Not only that, but we have a more-than-generous amount of rock to contend with. Josh went out yesterday with a soil scientist to try to find where we should clear for a pasture for Outie and his yet-to-be-acquired equine companion, and I’m afraid the news wasn’t overly exciting. I think we’ll have to put a lot of work in to preparing a pasture for him. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Meanwhile, I’m being thrown in to learning a lot about TREES. Lots and lots of trees.

Also flowers. We have a little patch of Daisies, St. John’s Wort, and Blue Bells growing along Berry Lane (Berry lane has no berries yet, but we have plans for lots of blackberry bushes).

IMG_8144 IMG_8147

the next big adventure

This blog post is 7 months in the making!!

IMG_7707We, along with these great friends, are beginning our new (and maybe our magnum opus!) adventure of turning a couple of big tracts of land in to a couple of beautiful farms!

We are so excited to be beginning the process of designing our new (and God-willing, last) home! We know it’s a big undertaking, but (so far) it’s fun! Of course, we’re just beginning… I may feel differently in a few months!!

This guy is sure excited, though: