My 2017 Reading List

I am ashamed to confess that after I graduated from college almost four years ago, I virtually stopped reading regularly. Yes. I might claim to be a “lover of literature,” but it turns out I was a pretty bad lover. I graduated from college just in time to see the sudden rise of netflix, hulu, and amazon prime, and soon enough my husband and I were sucked into the vacuum that is binge watching (Downton Abbey? Sherlock? Mad Men?). Don’t get me wrong, during all this time my husband was also re-reading all of his favorite Tolkien books among others, while I was maybe only reading what I needed to in order to complete my freelance assignments.

And then I became a mother. Motherhood is an absolute blessing, but if I didn’t have anything outside of home-life to read up on such as lesson plans or gardening, then the only things I found myself reading on a regular basis were board books and then soon children’s books. The occasional completed novel found itself here and there, but leisure reading always, always fell by the wayside – as do so many things.Then at some point a few months ago I rediscovered my love of reading and I intend to keep up the momentum.

I have enjoyed reading other’s yearly booklists and the occasional “What I’m Reading” post, so I’ve decided to compile my own for the sake of order and keeping myself accountable. When I put it together I had a few goals in mind…reading what we already own and finishing what lay unfinished.

We own a ton of books, too many to house. Just last week my husband brought up maybe 5 or 6 boxes of books into the attic that have just been sitting around the third bedroom collecting dust. Eventually we will turn our little storage room into a library, but that won’t happen for a while. While combing through the books deciding which to shelve and which to store, I realized how many great books we have that I have never read or even books that I started and never finished. So most of my reading list will come straight from our own library with the exception of a few books.

Though I am not a naturally organized person, I always work best when there is a goal in sight. Plus, if I have something new to look forward to, I won’t fall into old habits and stop reading. I formatted the list by month to have some sort of loose time frame, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I plan on strictly sticking to it. I’ll allow myself the freedom to move things around or add or replace books as the time comes.

January

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I started this book in December, and it was such a delightful read during Advent and the Holiday season. While I have always loved the movie, I had never read the book. Alcott wrote the novel modeled on the old family diaries, and that’s exactly what it felt like. All the characters are so lovable, yet so human.  While the book may have been a little too sentimental for me, I do realize that it’s meant to be a children’s book, and I so wish that I had read it when I was a girl!

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

My husband read this book earlier last year and loved it, and I had also heard a friend sing its praises. I read it alongside Little Women during the Advent/Christmas season, and I absolutely loved it. This was my first Cather book, and I look forward to reading more of her. The novel takes place in the mid-19th century and follows the missionary life of a young priest who becomes the bishop of the mission diocese in newly acquired New Mexico and beyond. Cather’s writing was captivating in both her descriptions of the desert landscape and in the personal reflections of the missionary priests.

February

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

This was a book that was not previously owned, and I gifted it to my husband for Christmas. I just finished this book a few days ago, and it totally blew me away. It is certainly a new favorite. This was also my first Wendell Berry, and I am in love with how he writes. Though the story might be simple, there is such effortless truth, wisdom, and beauty in the book. It’s written in first person, told by the character, Hannah Coulter; and takes place in Berry’s familiar and small rural community in Kentucky. Coulter begins her story from childhood, through World War II, the death of her first husband, and her life with her second husband. This book has caused me to get weepy more than once, and it has moved me to reflect more on the importance of family, community, and the homestead life. I highly, highly recommend it.

The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildenbrand

Nonfiction, reread. After the recent events in January, I decided to reread this gem. We are bombarded with so many conflicting ideas of what it means to be a woman, and Hildenbrand goes through these and sheds light on our unique calling and virtue as women. It’s a short read, and not at all daunting.

March

The Last Gentlemen by Walker Percy

My husband loves Walker Percy, and Percy spent the last several decades of his life in our hometown, so I’m eager to continue to read more of him.

33 Days to Merciful Love by Father Michael Gaitley

This was another book that was recently purchased. My bible study is following Fr. Michael’s video series on Mercy, so I thought this would be a good supplement to that, as well as a great Lenten read.

April 

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Though I own all of Austen’s novels, I have only ever read Pride and Prejudice! A friend of mine recently finished this one and loved it, so I’ll be happy to give a read.

The Everlasting Man by GK Chesterton

Nonfiction, reread. I read this in college for a Theology course, and while I enjoyed it then, I couldn’t dedicate enough attention to it. I often find myself thinking about parts of the book, so that’s a good enough sign that it deserves a reread! From what I remember, it was an enjoyable and rather enlightening read.

May

A Place on Earth by Wendell Berry

Because I was loving Hannah Coulter so much, I really wanted my husband to read Berry alongside me, so I picked this book up at the library for him. He seems to enjoy it just as much, so I plan on reading it later so we can discuss it together.

The New Faithful by Colleen Carroll Campbell

Nonfiction. This is a book that I started but never finished years ago. I have read Campbell’s memoir, My Sisters the Saints, which I absolutely loved. The New Faithful is not a memoir or biography but more of a study of  why more young people are embracing Orthodoxy. I’d like to re-read it because the book was written over ten years ago, and I’m interested in reading it in light of today.

June 

Lord Peter by Dorothy Sayers

I have never read Dorothy Sayers before, and I’ve never really read much of her genre of detective fiction so I’m excited to explore it!

July 

The Second Coming by Walker Percy

This book follows the same main character as in The Last Gentlemen. 

August

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

I do not own this book, but it is a Fountains of Carrots book club read, so of course I’m interested. 🙂 From what I’ve heard, it is one of the few novels Montgomery has written for adults.

The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton

Another Chesterton. This is one of his most well-known novels and a must-read from what I’ve heard.

September

My Antonia by Willa Cather

I don’t currently own this book either, but I loved Death Comes for the Archbishop so much, and I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this novel.

October

Lilith by George MacDonald

George MacDonald is such a delight. I have read a handful of his fairy tales and novels but never Lilith.

November

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Finish. Hah hah. There is no way that I plan on finishing this book from start to finish. I will just pick up where I left off a year and a half ago – which I hope is somewhere in the middle.

December

For now I’m going to leave this month blank, and add on when the time comes.

If you have any recommendations leave them, please! I love hearing what other people have enjoyed.

7 Quick Takes, Vol 5 – What’s Up 

It’s been quite a while, but here we go! I’m typing this on the fancy smancy WordPress app on my phone, while my husband uses my laptop. 

One 


This book. I initially put it on my reading list after the Fountains of Carrots podcast did an episode of it last summer. Wendell Berry is an author I’ve heard great things about but had not yet read. Though I am only one third of the way into the book, I have already managed to cry twice. Berry does an incredible job of conveying such beauty and truth through the simplicity of Hannah Coulter’s story. This book is in danger of becoming a new favorite. 

Two 

This guy. This past month he has begun to show up so much more personality, and he is such a delight! He is now pulling up to standing, as evidenced by the photo. So if he has any notion of refusing to nap, he’ll just stand up at his crib rail. Funny thing is though, he hasn’t figured out yet how to sit down from a standing position. He has a lot of upper body strength, but his chunky, fat legs don’t match. So he’ll often fall backwards, and just today I put the baby walker back in the closest because he was just not ready. He’s eager, but his lower half needs some work, haha! 

Three


This man. Last weekend, we went to the New Orleans’ New York Life annual kick off banquet. This was the first fancy work event that we have ever attended as a couple together, and we had an absolute blast. I was a little hesitant because I didn’t know what to expect, but everyone was welcoming and pretty easy going. Ross and I had the best time on the dance floor. We could have stayed much longer, but we left around ten so I could be home in time to nurse Rainer. I am still reeling from how much fun we had. Fun fact, it took a while for me to finally decide on an outfit – whether or not I should get my MoH dress for my best friend’s wedding this summer and wear it to this – and I ended up going with one that I got four years ago before our own wedding when I worked at LOFT. 

Four 

I recently started going to a bible study with some wonderful women, and I am loving it so far. I had been meaning to go for months, and they started back up again after a little hiatus. While I have a few friends in the study, I didn’t previously know the others. Most of my friends are married and are moms as well, while not everyone in our bible study fits that description. It’s been meaningful to hear more from single ladies and working wives, when I am so often in my “mom bubble.” 

Five

Speaking of community, I have been reflecting lately on how grateful I am to have such a wonderful community of friends and family here. Not everyone has that, and I am reminded of when we lived in West Houston for 10 months and had no friends at all there except for family. It is such a blessing to share in fellowship with other moms and young families. It is also a blessing to have such wonderful and generous in-laws just a couple miles away. I honestly don’t mean to brag, that’s not what I’m getting at, I am just grateful for what we have because I know what it’s like to not have a community nearby. 

Six


My daughter. Shout out to her, because she is beautiful, wonderful, and such sweetness. She is surely trying to help sanctify her mother and teach her patience through her toddler ways. 

Seven 

This is so silly, but I got a haircut before me and Ross’ banquet night and I’m slowly beginning to love it. Yes, so silly and probably vain but hey that’s what’s up lately. I loathe taking selfies, so here’s a super awkward one where you can barely see my hair and my kids look blah. 

There, satisfied? Hah!

Now head over here for some much better quick takes! 

8 Months in (Crawling, Potty training, & a big girl bed)

I have been dying to write this post for awhile now, as I find these quirky little kid update posts thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve been temporarily without a laptop for a little while now, but I have one now, and let’s not get too distracted, shall we?

Last time I actually wrote an update dedicated to the two kiddies, it was back in October at the 5 month mark. Here we are at 8 months in, and with all these new changes I feel like we have now switched gears and are moving at a faster pace – figuratively and literally. To be honest, these past two weeks have been pretty rough coupled with Ross working long days and late nights. I am constantly humbled over and over again by my own flaws and struggles as a mother, but praise God, I am not in this alone. 

Crawling

Crawling truly changes everything doesn’t it? Before crawling you don’t need to worry too much about baby getting into anything because he’s pretty stationary…that is until baby learns how to roll across the room…but even then baby can’t quite move in a straight line, just a diagonal one. 😉 

Rainer first began to sit up unassisted around Christmas time at 7 months old, about three weeks ago. Little by little he gained strength and around New Years he began to scoot. Last week he progressed by the day and now I can. not. keep. up. He hasn’t yet transitioned from army crawling to “normal” crawling, but GOSH is he fast. I turn around for a second and he’s in the other room trying to put a dirty boot in his mouth or he’s ripped off the plastic screen on the fridge. Just a few hours ago I left the kids in Lúthien’s room to play while I put maybe two dishes away and then I heard Lu laughing and moving things around in the bathroom. And there they were both giggling in the middle of the bathroom, while big sister thankfully moved her potty and step stool out of his reach (go sis!).

Throughout these past couple weeks Rainer’s personality is truly beginning to shine. While Lúthien had more of a careful curiosity at this age, Rainer wants to explore everything and anything. The most intriguing objects to him are computer chargers, outlets, the plastic screen on the fridge, and our shoes. His sister is finally now being forced to learn what sharing truly is and how to best protect her precious tower of mega blocks. 

Growth


What’s hilarious is that they are starting to look the same size now because they are kind of almost the same weight…my petite little Lu is 24 lbs while her hefty baby brother is now 20lbs (according to my bathroom scale, who knows how accurate that is). At first I was alarmed at the difference, and felt quite worried for Lúthien’s growth, but she’s been on the lower percentile for a little while and it’s not like she’s skinny. She’s petite, but she definitely has pudge all over.

Little buddy had his first taste of solids around 6 months with avocado, but I didn’t start regularly giving him solids until the end of December in the middle of 7 months. My milk supply tanks a couple times a month now, and he works up a pretty big appetite. His favorites include sweet potatoes, apples, pears, bananas, and he’s even fairly partial to peas and broccoli.

Lúthien’s vocabulary and way of talking still continues to amaze me. But hey, she’s my oldest and she’s 2 and 1/2, this is my first time! She totally understands way more than we think she does. Just a few days ago we picked up lunch from Chick fil a, and she was playing with the little game cards that came in her kids meal. She brought one to me to read, and I read it aloud, “If you could do one nice thing for a friend, what would it be?” Though I didn’t expect her to answer, she responded “Pray for Miss Megan?” with her hands folded and a big smile. Miss Megan is her ‘sometimes’ babysitter, like a twice a year babysitter when the grandparents are busy. It was so precious.

Potty Training

We did it. We started it, and the worst is over! I planned on starting potty training soon after the holidays, and we held our breath and jumped into the adventure that potty training is about two weeks ago. Lúthien had been ready for a few months now, but I didn’t want to bother potty training with Thanksgiving and then Christmas looming in the background so I pushed it to January. We did a version of potty training boot camp, so we quit the diaper in the day cold turkey. The first day was predictably filled with many accidents, but she was already starting to rush to the potty when she felt the need to go. By the third day, she pretty much hard it, especially with dad to coach her along. Every now and then we still have an accident while she’s playing and distracted, but she has been accident free the past few days and we are going back on outings again with not much worry!

Big Girl Bed

Lúthien’s transition from a crib to a big girl bed has technically been lengthened by about 9 months, which was all completely unplanned. Last April, I removed her crib mattress from the crib and set up her sleeping area on the floor after she got her legs stuck in the crib slots. She slept on her mattress on the floor for a few months until a month or so after Rainer was born when I finally got around to removing the front wall of the crib. By the time she finally started sleeping in the toddler bed, she was already used to sleeping on her mattress without rolling off so the transition went smoothly. Her big Christmas gift from both sets of grandparents was her big girl bed and mattress. Her mattress arrived in time for Christmas, but FedEx actually lost the bed frame package and the second one (free) arrived last week. Naturally Lúthien slept on the new twin mattress on the floor, so by the time her bed frame was set up and ready, she slept on it just fine without falling off. 

Though we never planned on a gradual transition that this one, I’m really happy with how it turned out. Before Rainer was born, our pediatrician talked about how toddlers thrive on their routines and familiar environment – hence why they usually don’t take change well – so I’ve really tried to take that to heart with Lúthien. She has been so adaptable anyway though, so that makes things much easier. 

Anyway, you get the general idea…we’re all still growing over here for sure. Babies don’t keep! In the midst of the struggles and hardships of everyday life, thankfully the joys shed light on it all. 

Peace,

Dot 

The End and the Beginning of a Season

Last time I posted on here, I had written a reflection on the sweet moments of Advent and Christmas in our family. Unfortunately, the post vanished somehow from wordpress the next day, I don’t know if I accidentally deleted it or not, but at least I enjoyed writing it. I write this post just one day after the last day of the Christmas season, so I’m really not that late….right?

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The Advent and Christmas season for our family was just what we needed. I know that Ross and I gained even more from having our daughter begin to participate and understand more. It was such a gift observing her reaction to everything new – after all this truly did seem new to her, last year she was only 15 months. Her fascination over our gradually growing Nativity scene (I brought out more pieces each week) was delightful. She kept asking “Where Baby Jesus go?” (because the manger was empty), so when we were able to show her the life size Nativity scene after Christmas Mass, her face just lite up with such sweetness. Of course the Advent candles were a favorite, accompanied by “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” And her awe and glee over the Christmas tree and ornaments made me and my husband giddy ourselves.

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I hope that my memory of the night before Christmas and Christmas morning will stick with me for years to come. This was our first Christmas in our home, so everything seemed more special. Arranging the kids stockings around their respective seating area for the morning felt so sweet. And the next morning when we helped the kids open their gifts, my husband exclaimed, “this is better than I ever imagined.” All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas season for us, our first together as a family of four.

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I will never tire of the liturgical calendar and how it is set up. I am reminded of the verses in Ecclesiastes:

“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. God has made everything appropriate to its time, but has put the timeless – into their hearts so they cannot find out, from beginning to end, the work which God has done. I recognized that there is nothing better than to rejoice and to do well during life. Moreover, that all can eat and drink and enjoy the good of all their toil—this is a gift of God. I recognized that whatever God does will endure forever; there is no adding to it, or taking from it…”

This is our Church calendar. We are not meant to be stagnant, our hearts can’t take that. We need the hope and reflection of Advent and the joy and of Christmas. Ordinary time gives us that breath of fresh air and change. Down here Carnival season has begun. And before we know it, we will soon be in the season of Lent.

I had never really been one for New Year’s Resolutions in the past. However, after a few more years as a wife and stay at home mom under my belt, I have begun to see just how meaningful that fresh start and outlook can be. This year I intend to strive for more order in my day to day life. More face time with my family. More gratitude for what I have. Simply put, I intend to make this year my year to be more present to each moment and each day.  Not to mention, my phlegmatic self needs the order to live well.

To my small, small amount of readers out there, I pray that you have a blessed beginning of the year. Peace be with you.

Dot

There and Back Again, Thanksgiving 2016

Though it has already been quite a few weeks after Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving is now old news, I am still happily blogging about our yearly trip up to Virginia. Because Virginia is quite a ways away from Louisiana, and we don’t often have the chance to get up there as often as we would like, I treasure each visit as much as possible. The best moments of the trip were not captured by photos. Sometimes the best memories come from living in the moment and not interrupting it for a photo (if we had a personal photographer who followed us around that would be pretty cool though. Therefore, in the absence of photos here are a few highlights of our trip (albeit sentimental) beginning with the day before we hit the road.

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This journey begins almost two weeks ago. The night before we left, Ross and I attended a wedding in New Orleans for our dear friend Katie. This was a big deal for us (not like it wasn’t for everyone either though, especially the bride and groom). We’ve been graduated and married for over three years now, and we have had to miss wedding after wedding of our friends from college, so this was the first wedding of a college friend that we’ve actually been able to attend! AND it was our first night out since last winter, and certainly the first time I left Rainer for that long.

It was such a lovely treat driving out at night to New Orleans with just my husband for company in his cozy, little Fiat that I never get to ride in. Plus I was wearing a dress that I hadn’t worn since before we were married. It surprisingly still fit me and I LOVED that I didn’t need to worry about nursing in it. It’s the little things y’all. Aside from the awesome date night opportunity, the wedding itself was absolutely beautiful in every way. There was such joy throughout the night, and Ross and I had a wonderful time catching up with out of town friends.

saturday

The next morning we didn’t leave town until 11am. It was a crazy week y’all.

Though we originally intended to stop for the night in Atlanta, we ended up canceling our hotel reservation in order to drive as long as possible before all four of us had a melt down. Rainer slept ok as long as he had his pacifier (which he doesn’t actually use outside of the car), but Lúthien would cry and complain from her head wobbling up and down and then in turn wake up Rainer. There were several times in the course of the drive where both kids were crying and screaming and Ross and I turned to each other and just laughed at the hilarity of it all. We eventually quit and stopped around 1am.

sunday

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Waking up on a Sunday morning in Belmont was magical. Though I have spent four years of my life there, I felt as I was seeing Belmont with totally new eyes. Dawn opened us up to the incredible beauty of a North Carolina Fall. (I had forgotten just how colorful Fall actually is!) Walking around campus together felt like a dream. It had only been a year since we visited with a friend, but this time was altogether different. Last year it was winter, the students were away, the trees were barren, and we were running late for Sunday Mass. This time around the campus was at the height of its beauty, the students were present though still inside their dorms, and we had some time to explore our old haunts in peace. There is something incredibly fulfilling and beautiful about bringing your children to a place you still call home during a season that you fell in love. All four of us sat together in the grotto and it was such perfection.

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A few other highlights of that stop include nursing on the floor of the narthex during Mass (something I could have never foreseen in my years there as a student), walking up and down and again up and down downtown Belmont looking for a restaurant with an open table (roadtrip exercise + sightseeing + food searching), and finally finding somewhere (new) to eat with awesome food.

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monday 

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Monday was our recover day, and it was a pretty quiet day as far as quiet days go for our family. Ross and I left the kids with my eager and excited parents while we went on a grocery and coffee date. Again, it’s the little things: Walking with your husband and getting to hold his hand when you usually can’t because you’re both carrying kids…Actually getting to sit down and enjoy a hot cup of coffee instead of taking a cold sip every few minutes.

tuesday

Tuesday was our busy meet up with friends day. In the afternoon, we left the kids with the grandparents again – I promise they didn’t babysit the entire time. We drove into Williamsburg with Josh Garrell’s Home as our soundtrack while we enjoyed the peace of the drive. Williamsburg is picturesque in the Fall. After picking up my sister in the older campus of William and Mary, we met our sweet friends Corinne and Chiara for lunch. Ross was the man of the hour, since our friend Chris was unable to make it. Regardless, it was such a delight to all be together and it’s a shame we weren’t able to visit longer.

We finally arrived back home with just enough time to spare to hang out with the kids for a little while and then put them to bed. And then we promptly left to go meet up with my best friend and her fiance. It was our first time meeting him and seeing them together, and I loved it. After 13 or 14 years of friendship, it brings me such satisfaction and peace to see her with the right guy, the perfect one for her.

wednesday – sunday 

Joseph and Anna were back home for their Thanksgiving break. We did normal Thanksgiving week things…grocery shopping the day before Thanksgiving (of course) and relaxing together. Or if you’re like Ross and you kind of run your own business, you make up for lost time and you work from home (or your in-law’s home). 😉

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Then of course there was Thanksgiving Day and all the yum yums. My grandmother and Uncle came in from out of town. And we were also able to meet my sister’s boyfriend for the first time. Good, good company.

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The rest of the visit was filled with great food, wonderful people, and lots of pie. Our visit concluded Saturday morning when we left in the morning with my brother Joseph in tow. We dropped him off at his dorm in North Carolina after a good lunch together and some fresh air by his apartment building.

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The rest of our road trip is all a haze. We were wiped out and just tried to make it through the miles. You know the typical.


All in all, we had a wonderful time away for the week. In case it wasn’t already obvious, I finished this post throughout the course of two or three weeks. But hey, that’s Advent for you. 🙂

Happy Gaudete Sunday! .

 

 

Hobbitry Homestead: Past and Present | Fall 2016 |

Probably around this time last year, I intended to write a post giving a little tour of our very humble homestead. I probably should have, because last autumn we had just reached our peak (in only the two years we’ve lived here) and since then things have reached a standstill. Regardless of our slow progress, please humor me as I relate our current state of affairs! 😉

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humble beginnings (circa May 2015)

When we first found this home, we automatically fell in love with the property. We live on 3/4 of an acre, but it feels a little larger than that because our property is narrow and long. When we moved here, instead of maybe painting or undergoing minor renovations to the inside of the house, we instantly began to work on the outside. First by laying the bed for our first vegetable garden, purchasing our first chickens, building our first chicken run, and planting our first fruit trees.

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sowing seeds

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building the chicken run

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the day we moved the first flock of chicks outside

Within the past year and a half, the homestead has been through quite a lot. Some of our blunders include…Losing our first flock of chickens to a mean decapitating raccoon. I still remember the shock when my husband told me that morning. (They were the most beautiful breed with have had so far too!) We have gone through four roosters. Two were lost to the raccoon, two were lost to us because they were too aggressive. Two meat birds escaped by accident and never came back. And then of course, there are your typical gardening blunders that everyone runs into if they have a vegetable garden (squash vine borers, frost, wild rabbits eating young plants, crops shooting to seed too early, etc). With each set back though, we have been able to learn much more. Over here we truly do learn as we go.

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Jean Lafitte, our 3rd rooster, still a little teenager here

Writing about all these gardening specifics makes me sad…why…well ever since I became pregnant and started to [temporarily] work part time last Fall, the garden has fallen by the wayside. You see, our homestead would not be alive were it not for the stamina, enthusiasm, and resourcefulness of my husband. If he wants something done, he gets it done. He mainly oversees the animals, and I [used to] oversee the garden. We work together, and we just get excited about different things. However, with the pregnancy and the part-time job, I slowed down – which was necessary and good. I focused more on lesson planning and soaking up my time with my toddler, soon to be big sister.Unfortunately [and not a surprise] the garden gradually went dead soon after Rainer was born. But thankfully, our rabbits [again, my husband’s work] have been flourishing.

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One of the last harvests, this past May

 

At the height of our garden days, we had healthy blueberry bushes, producing lemon trees, and an annual vegetable garden of all sorts of greens, herbs, and veggies that would make its way to the dinner table. Since then, we have had to get rid of the blueberry bushes, my lemon trees have been struggling, and our vegetable garden is no more. On the plus side, the guava tree that we thought was killed by frost has grown back and is just as healthy as it was last year. Our fig trees are beginning to produce, our apple tree is strong, and our front porch herb garden is growing wonderfully. Our feijoa bushes might be struggling a little bit though.

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Guava tree guild in its infancy

The animal side of things is still looking good! We have 6 hens at the moment, and they are probably over a year at this point. In the Spring, we plan on getting some chicks to eventually replace them. Last winter Ross started our first meat bird operation, which we might do again once we have a better set up to raise chicks.

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Last Spring

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newly built chicken tractor last fall

This past spring we introduced rabbits to the homestead, which so far has been more economical and efficient than raising our own meat birds. When we first began, both Ross and I were a little hesitant. Rabbits are much cuter than chickens, but in the end, it’s really not all that bad. It is much more fulfilling knowing exactly how the meat on your plate was raised and treated throughout its life and knowing that you had a hand in it.

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Scruffy the Rabbit, one of the Papas

Now that I am finally at a comfortable rhythm with these two kids, I am really eager to get back at work in the garden. I plan on preparing a new bed, this time closer to the backdoor for easy, quick access. There is also a lot to be done with the existing fruit trees, but I’m working on one step at a time. There are many more goals and dreams to move forward, but for now, it is a blessing to take a step back and see far we have come. Most especially, I love that we have our two littles who can enjoy the yard.

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This used to be our main garden. We are now clearing the area completely.

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Ross built that gate from scrap wood, using his own design. There are muscadine vines on each side.

For those of you that do garden, what are your favorite things about gardening? What is your strong suit?

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 4 – Let’s Redirect

Linking up with Kelly for this week’s quick takes! 

Ok, I know I’m not the only one who has been dismayed all week long at the state of practically everything in our country now. Therefore, here are a few things to inspire and/or distract.

one

My friend, Hannah, wrote this post essentially about the sanctity of mundane household chores, which really struck a bell with me (is that even a saying?). For the past two weeks, my attitude has fallen into “I just need to get through this and that,” so the simple reminder that we can love through all things helped change my tune. Also, I loved how she related her experience of dishes and laundry – in that she usually only has 3 minutes of perfectly folded clothes and a shining kitchen counter. It is so true! Oh the irony of working so hard for a few spare minutes of cleanliness!

two

Teresa, offered a short and sweet reminder that the best thing that we can do is – as Mother Teresa hearkens – “to go home and love your family.” This also something that I have been striving to actively focus on – my family is my ministry, my children are my ministry, making sure the household is still running is my ministry. Drying those tears, changing the stinky diapers, even cleaning the kitchen floor from a broken bowl filled with my leftover gumbo is my ministry.

three

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I cannot remember the blogger who wrote this, but a few months ago someone wrote about how now is the perfect time to re-read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Beauty is our greatest inspiration, and Tolkien’s writing is transformative. My husband re-reads the Lord of the Rings every year, and this year I’ve decided to join him. Last week, I finished The Silmarillion (for the first time!) and was absolutely blown away. (Yes, I am aware of how ridiculous it is that I have a daughter named Luthien, and I am just now finishing The Silmarillion, but that is not the point). Throughout the book there is constant tragedy after tragedy, but despite everything there is always hope and good always prevails even in the most seemingly hopeless circumstances.

four

This excerpt from Wendell Berry that keeps popping up:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

five

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Yesterday I took both kids to the library for only the second time since Rainer was born. I used to take Lu all the time when I was pregnant, so it’s been such a while. Hallelujah, it went so well! And now I might begin to take both children to the babies and toddlers’ storytime on Tuesdays, fingers crossed!

six

We are starting to make time for family prayer, which we really haven’t done before other than bedtime prayers. At the moment, we are just praying one decade of the rosary. I really want to make it a habit early on, plus we need that as a family. ❤

seven

Lastly, I just started reading Little Women for the first time! Gosh it is too adorable, and the characters are already so endearing. I’m really trying to eliminate all the noise that netflix and social media provides and begin a habit of reading regularly again. So it’s Little Women and (re-reading) The Hobbit at the moment!

That’s it. This was probably my quickest quick takes ever. Have a great weekend y’all.

Peace,

Dot