Author Archive | Jenny

Why I Blog

Ryan and I married in 2004 and were both very career-minded, and we allocated little time for friends and family.  We were new to the DFW area when we tied the knot, so with the combination of the new scenery and our career-driven lives, we didn’t made a lot of new relationships outside of work.  We were both grinding it out, putting in the effort at our jobs, and at the end of a day or a week we just really didn’t have a lot left on the table.

I am relationally-minded and craved deeper friendships, and over the new few years I began to take a thorough look at my life and what I really wanted for my future, and for my family’s future.

It was around 2007-ish that I began following several different blogs (most popularly Pioneer Woman) …I read blogs about photography, health, home, design, family, travel, education, and Christianity.  I really enjoyed getting a little peek into other’s lives.

From these blogs I gained much inspiration and leaned into my identity and passions.  I began to make tangible changes in my life like…

–Dedicating time for relationships and building friendships!

–Learning to take more pride in my role as a wife and a mom as I invested in my home life at our little Ranch in the City!

–Changing up my career, and work schedule!

–Trying new recipes!

–Planting a garden!

–Daring to become a homeschooling momma!

–Dreaming and planning for what my legacy will be!

And these are just a few ways my life looks different than it did ten years ago.

Women who shared their hearts, and photos, and tips and tricks, led me to see the world in a way that I wasn’t currently viewing it.  Their words and images were what I needed to challenge and excite me, to create big purposeful dreams!

I am here to continue my journey of being inspired online and connecting with others, and I’m here to share my own life in hopes that maybe I will inspire just one momma out there.

The wise woman builds her house.” Proverbs 14:1

 

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Why We Homeschool

We homeschool because we are crazy, that is why!

We started thinking about homeschooling the summer before my daughter’s second grade year. What initially prompted us to have these crazy thoughts was that our oldest son, Kade, was about to start high school, and we felt like “Whoa, where does the time go?”  His school years had been a blur, a rush, a streak of light, and we suddenly became sentimental about our babies growing up and going away.

I started by reading about homeschooling.  Then I talked to other people who were homeschoolers.  Next I talked to teachers and family.  Finally I prayed, “God, are you sure you really want me to do this? Because I was educated in public school, and I don’t even get homeschoolers.  I’m pretty certain it’s not my thing.”  He responded that I needed to get out of my comfort zone, to do something that I never imagined doing, to not fear what other people think of me, and to trust Him to work all things for good.  I determined the homeschooling notion must be divine intervention because I promise you I would never imagine this for myself.  Ever!

Our life before homeschooling was this: The mornings typically started pretty harried with the kids not wanting to roll out of bed, and me constantly pressing them to “HURRY UP!” Everything from getting dressed to feeding the animals to eating breakfast was a battle and then we rolled out of the driveway on two wheels trying to get to school on time.  The school day ended and I would pick up the kids to rush home to do homework to then go to the sports practice to next rush home and eat dinner and shower and get in bed at a decent hour so that they could get up the next morning for school.  (All of that plus typically a toddler or two dragging along, squealing in protest!)  Yikes.  We just felt there wasn’t a lot of margin and balance, and that we didn’t get to spend any real quality time with our kids.  We were pursing our own thing and they were pursing their own thing and we were all going different directions.  And then we realized that we had done this to ourselves.

So, I will say that our major reason for taking the jump into homeschooling was to spend more quality time with our kids.

We felt like we needed to re-connect, to have conversations, to not feel rushed 24/7.

So, yes that is what we got!  And here are a few more homeschool benefits that we’ve experienced:

  • Learning with the kids (did anyone besides me just memorize a bunch of stuff to pass the test and then never remember it again?)
  • Reading stories together–it makes for great conversation
  • The kids are learning how to do real-life things like cook, clean, do their laundry, take care of our livestock, and grocery shop! (Things they never had time for because they were at school.)
  • Influence–I’m certainly not the best teacher, or the most qualified, but I do like the idea of being the one to influence their thoughts and learning
  • Flexibility–for example, if Kade has a late-night sports game (he still attends high school) then our family can all go to the game and the next morning my little people can sleep in a bit later
  • Lots of outdoor time, which I feel is critical in a learning environment, especially for boys
  • Sick less often! I just find it easier to deal with people who are well!
  • They get to go with us on work projects (not all of the time!)
  • Their imaginations have grown immensely and they have learned how to teach themselves new things

Our thought process moving forward:

  1. Our children’s education is a year-to-year decision for us.  Our daughter did go back to school for third grade, and she will go back to school again at some point.  We just take one year at a time, looking at our life circumstances, and at each child individually to determine what is best.  Nothing is permanent!
  2. Homeschooling is awesome.  Homeschooling is hard.  Just like everything else.
  3. God has moved my heart so far from where it was when I first started this journey.  I am grateful that I’ve changed for the better.  I’m also thankful for forgiveness and grace, because I’ve needed plenty of it along the way!
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Laundry Room Reset: 10 Simple Changes on a Budget

My laundry room is a room I’ve never loved…mainly because it is too narrow and dark, and I don’t particularly enjoy doing laundry!  The design has been neglected because it’s easy to close the door and nobody can see it, and it’s a space that almost no one else goes in but me…certainly not guests…and usually my kids only go in when they are desperate for a specific shirt they think might be tucked away in the dryer.

But because I do actually spend a lot of time doing laundry, and because it’s a relatively small space {think quick and easy to update}, I decided to make some simple, budget-friendly changes that I hope inspire you to RESET a place in your home!

BEFORE PHOTO:

RESET #1: PAINTED THE WALLS & CABINETS. The biggest change I made was to paint the walls and cabinets. {I used “antique white” by Sherwin Williams on both the cabinets and the walls.}  Painting is one of the most dramatic ways to change a room, anybody can do it, and the cost of paint is relatively inexpensive compared to other design updates.  The reason I chose to paint both the walls and the cabinets was because I have a very small laundry room and I knew if I didn’t paint the cabinets it would still feel very cramped due to the darkness of my wood.  If you have a laundry room with a bit more size, you can do a simple wall update and move on.

RESET #2: REMOVED THE WASHER AND DRYER STANDS/PEDESTALS.  These pedestals seemed like a must-have when we bought this washer and dryer set ten years ago, but the reason they didn’t work for me was that they were hard to reach over and get into the cabinets above the washer and dryer.  As a result, it was frustrating to access laundry soap, dryer sheets, etc.!  In order to eliminate that stressor and to create a space that felt bigger, I had Ryan pull those laundry stands off and I sold them on Craigslist!  The result was a little bit of extra cash for the decorating budget plus easy access to the cabinets and a space that feels less crowded.

RESET #3: FRAMED OUT THE SMALL WINDOW.  I wanted some visual interest above the window (to draw the eye upward and again make it feel like the space was bigger) but I did not want to hang a curtain or window treatment.  The resulting conclusion was to have Ryan take some extra wood that we had and frame out the window.  I found something I liked on Pinterest, showed him the picture, and one evening after the kids went to sleep we worked on it together (he did the actual work, I just took pictures and kept him company). It was an easy change, at no cost to us since we already had the lumber, and the craftsmanship is the best.

RESET #4: SWITCHED OUT THE LIGHT FIXTURE.  You can probably tell from the “before” photo that our lighting was very bright!  It was an overhead light that wasn’t very pretty, and it also didn’t create the right lighting ambiance.  So I shopped around my house and decided to pull our closet light out and put it in the laundry room.  I then put the previous laundry light into our closet.  The new light is more evenly spread and looks more interesting!

RESET #5: INSTALLED A NEW FAUCET.  The old faucet had a dated look and I wanted a more rounded modern faucet so I found something inexpensive on Amazon and had Ryan change out the fixture for me.

Here is the photo of the “old” faucet–nothing wrong with it, I just don’t love it!

Here is the newer faucet:

RESET #6: ADDED A LAMP.  I found an industrial looking lamp that was the same metal color as the light fixture and I love it because it creates such a nice ambiance in the evenings.  (Purchased at Hobby Lobby for 50% off.)  It makes this room feel more “homey” and less “task-oriented.” {Side-note–I use clear light bulbs rather than Edison bulbs in order to avoid the yellowish hue that Edison bulbs throw.)

RESET #7: NEW IRONING BOARD COVER.  Ironing is a really, really, really low priority on my “to-do” list.  To be honest, I’d rather wear something wrinkled than to get out the iron and press it out.  I know that sounds horrible, and lazy, but we all have our vices!  Because ironing has never been a thing for me, I have a really old ironing board and a stained up blue ironing cover.  And I’ve never justified buying a new one since I maybe only use it twice a year.  But in an effort to make my laundry room a happier, prettier place to be, I decided to order a new cover from Amazon.  I’m happy with the update, and I’ve even used my ironing board since purchasing it…which means I’ve already met my ironing quota for the year!

OLD COVER:

NEW COVER:

RESET #8: I ADDED A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS.  A bottle of Mrs. Meyers peppermint hand soap near the sink, a glass bottle of window cleaner, a stripeside dishtowel from Anthropologie, a pot of basil, and a candle from Target {lavender vanilla, which smells like a spa}. Some of these I already had on hand, a few of these small items were purchased.

Basic Formula = nice hand soap + plant + candle + towel

 

RESET #9: REMOVED CLUTTER.  I only have one item hanging on the wall {a birthday gift from a super thoughtful friend that makes me smile as I fold towels}, the colors in this room are very cool and neutral, I took down hooks, and I’m committed to not letting this be the room where everything extra is thrown or hung.  Less clutter feels like more room to work plus less brain damage.  All of us mommas want less brain damage. Can I get an Amen?

RESET #10: ADDED RUG. For my laundry room, it just helped to break up the dark tile and to lighten up the space. It also feels like it elongated the space, and I love the modern pattern and cozy vibe it adds. {Nate Berkus for Target.}

Thanks for taking a look around! I hope that my ideas have given you some brainstorming for your own “room reset.”

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Ranch Residents: Meet the Chickens

We love our chickens, we give each of them a name, we make them our pets, and we spend time with them everyday!  Having a chicken coop, watching the chickens cluck and explore, and gathering fresh eggs are some of the simplest joys in the world here at the ranch.

In the spring of 2016, we built a chicken coop together as a family project. You can read about that HERE. The original seven chicks that we started off with were:

“Peach”–a Salmon Faverolle

“Gladys”–a White Brahma

“Alex”–a Gold-Laced Wyandotte

“Peepers”–a Golden Comet

“Star”–an Amerecauna

“Priscilla”–an Easter Egger

“Domino”–a Dominique

For being fragile animals, the chickens have done surprisingly well holding up to our rough little boys!  The boys love to chase the chickens around and pick them up and squeeze them.  Besides being fun, the chickens have been great in teaching our kids responsibility.  I look forward to years of fun ahead of us with these little ladies.

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What I’m Reading this Year: My 2017 Book List

Hi friends! Today I’m sharing what’s on my bookshelf to read in 2017!

Last year I made a book list at the beginning of the year for what I wanted to read in 2016.  This helped me establish a plan, have something to look forward to, and build leisure time into my life! ( You can see what I read in 2016 on my Pinterest board here.)

Here’s my 2017 book list,in no particular order:

walk to beautiful

Walk to Beautiful by Jimmy Wayne–This was a Christmas gift from my mom.  She watched an interview that the author did and says his story is simply amazing.

entrepreneurial reflections

Entrepreneurial Reflections by Jay D. Rodgers–This was a gift from my sister.  Since Ryan and I are in the thick of #entrepreneurlife, I’m certain I will enjoy advice in this book!

god king

God King by Joanne Williamson–This is a book my daughter read in homeschool and couldn’t quit talking about.  She left me inspired, so I can’t wait to dig in!

lighting

Lighting by Chris Weston–I checked this out at the library because I received a new camera body for Christmas and lighting is on my brain!

in the company of women

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney –Anthropologie purchase from my momma. It’s got to be good!

new morning mercies

New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp–Was given to me by my mentor, who is a a spiritual inspiration and highly recommends this devotional.  I have completed two of this author’s studies and he is one of my very favorite Bible teachers.

uninvited

Uninvited by Lisa TerKeurst–Received this at a gathering of mommas and I’m looking forward to reading this treasure by an author I greatly admire.

deepening your roots

Deepening Your Roots in God’s Family–This is the 2nd book in the 2:7 series–Ryan and I did the first book in 2016, so now we are progressing forward in the series together! One of my favorite things is studying/reading/memorizing/discussing with him!

my bible

My Bible–Ryan gave me this NIV Bible the first Christmas after we were married and had it inscribed with my new name! It’s on every year’s reading list!

whole 30

Whole 30 by Melissa Hartwig–This is a re-read. I did a Whole 30 in August/September and I loved the way I felt when I followed the plan.  I know most of the do’s and don’ts, but I’m going to re-read it to review the science behind it and to try a few new recipes.

daring greatly

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown–I have this book on Audible and I started listening to it in 2016 and need to finish it up!

big magic

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert–I also purchased this on Audible and began listening to it in 2016 so I have a head start!

preemptive love

Preemptive Love by Jeremy Courtney–This book is the founding story of a ministry I was introduced to in 2016.

strong and kind

Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson–I love Duck Dynasty and I love Korie Robertson, and I admire her intentionality as a parent so I’m looking forward to reading about how she helps her children succeed.

a more perfection union

A More Perfect Union by Ben Carson–I believe in what Ben is trying to do for our country and I hope to learn more about our Constitution and political system by reading this book.  The 2016 election revealed some deficiencies in my political knowledge.

i married adventure

I Married Adventure by Luci Swindoll–A Women of Faith book given to me by my momma.  I like the title already.

contentment in contentious times

Contentment in Contentious Times–One of my sweetest friend’s mother-in-law wrote this book.  My momma already borrowed my copy and says it is great!

wild and free

Wild and Free by Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan–I am a fan of both of these girls, who I follow online, and I have heard lots of good reviews about this book.  I purchased it last year and am looking forward to pulling it off my bookshelf.

hope heals

Hope Heals by Katherine & Jay Wolf–I first heard Katherine’s story on the Happy Hour podcast and I can’t wait to dig into her inspirational story.

harry potter

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling –The 8th book/play in the Harry Potter series!

AnneGreenGables17

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery–I need more fiction on my list, and this is one of my most favorite childhood books and movies!  Can’t wait to enjoy it all over again.

 

That’s 21 books this year–I’m leaving some room open for books that come up…books that I check out at the library, books that friends recommend, books that are gifted to me, and books that I can’t resist purchasing!

My goal is to post a monthly book review that sums up what I’ve read for the month!

What do you love to read? What have you read lately that you would recommend?

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Leisure: Stopping to Stare

Leisure time, baby on horse

Twice in the last thirty days, I have seen this poem…and I know that God is speaking to me. Leisure is what I’m lacking…

Leisure

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?–
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

–W.H. Davies

He wants me to stop. Stop and enjoy the blessings all around me. Give into the joy of leisure, and not let me heart feel like it must “do” in order to be worthy to my people.  Stare at what is worth remembering.

And my people love it when I stop and stare and give them the most precious gift of attention and admiration.

I love the time after Christmas and before the New Year, when our family pauses and huddles together at home enjoying our new gifts, eating holiday leftovers and desserts, and snuggling together on the couch.  It is truly a time of year when I set aside responsibilities and instead relax from the hustle of Christmas and just enjoy my people.

I need more of these days in 2017.  Just the other night, Ryan and I lay in bed discussing how fast 2016 went.  How time is flying and we wished we could just press pause on life. We love this stage of life, the ages of our children, and the lifestyle we have created.  But it feels like we can’t ever press the brakes!

Focused attention on my precious peeps is what will slow things down.  I WILL create and make time to stop and stare!

Baby Riding Horse

 

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