Dietary Changes

So many of you have been asking me about our food journey!

I shared a handful of weeks ago that our family was adopting a more plant-based diet. After watching a few documentaries, Forks over Knives, What the Health, and In Defense of Food and also researching the different ways to eat more holistically, we decided to change things up. Even before this we have been slowly transitioning our family to a more holistic, natural way of living (essential oils, cloth diapers, organic gardening, raising our own chickens for eggs and meat). It’s slow and ever-changing balance of keeping things manageable, yet also leaning on our convictions to make welcome changes for all of us.

To back up a bit, there was nothing uncommon or horribly wrong with our diet before this. We ate a variety of meat, dairy, vegetables and fruit with a few more processed items for ease/convenience #momlife. Although looking back,  we consumed a LOT more dairy than I realized.

Knowing that it would be easy to slip back if we inched into this new lifestyle, we plunged in and removed most meat and a lot of the dairy from our everyday lives. Although, when fellowshipping with other families, I had always stated that we would always put our relationships over our food choices. Now, if your family has a legitimate food allergy or intolerance, this would be a different story, but for use it was our choice. SO, if we had dinner with family or friends we would happily eat what was served and not even mention our new way of eating.

As time went on there were things we loved (almond milk over regular milk) and things we hated (veggie burgers DID NOT even compare to the real deal…). There were also things that our kids were not even close to fond of and others that they surprisingly loved. We sort of knew this would be the reality of it going into to this. Kuddos for those willing to go all out, but for us, doing so would be more stressful than it was worth. Also, I feel that food choice has become a bit of an idol for some. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to fuel your body well, when we decide to put our faith in out dietary habits (something that WE do) it ignores the sovereignty of God. He is bigger than our food choices.

So, what stuck and what got thrown out?

About 6 weeks of eating very differently left us with these “loose” guidelines

  • Cheese is sticking around – although in smaller quantities (NOTHING vegan tastes like cheese, even if it looks like it! If I wanted to keep from having a mutiny the cheese had to stay)
  • Processed meats, other than special occasions (others cooking, eating out and very occasional favorite meals of my children) were all gone. I did make another exception of lunch meat for my children who attend a nut-free co-op.
  • Milk as a beverage is gone – almond milk has replaced it. I actually bought cow’s milk last week so that I could do one of those “occasional kids’ favorite meals – biscuits and gravy) and NO ONE (sans one kid) would even drink it. They called it cow puss, thanks to learning that there is actually puss in cow’s milk… #gross.
  • We have added a meal or two that have optional of meat in them. For instance when we make tacos I purchase ground beef but also make quinoa “taco meat” for a few of us who like it better (recipe to come). I also make veggie wraps and my children have the option of cooked chicken or roasted chickpeas that have been seasoned the same.
  • Also, we are doing our best to use grassfed, organic and naturally raised meat when possible.

All in all these changes have our family: eating less meat, consuming less dairy products, eating more fresh produce (both fruit and vegetables), eating even less processed foods, and in general simplifying our diet.

I am very happy with the balance. I know that I would drive myself and my family bat-crap-crazy if I were to adhere too strongly to a restricted food regime, so this our doable diet change!

How about you?

How does your family enjoy to eat?


Cell Phones and Teens | Rules and Hacks for Moms

I have been asked so many times what about our rules with cell phones for our children. I will be the first to tell you that we have in no way figured it out, and I have made many mistakes along the way. That said, I would also be happy to share what we are doing with our family to make this part of our lives a bit more manageable.

First of all, we don’t allow our kids to have phones or personal devices at a young age. We made the mistake of handing personal devices out at too young of an age and we regretted it. Now our go-to age for an iPod or phone without service is about 12-13 (although my 11-year-old does have one, yet he isn’t all that interested in it). I know there are 6-year-olds out there carrying their own cell phone (with service), and still the age just seems to be getting younger and younger for parents to be footing a cell phone bill for a child that is barely out of diapers, but for our family it just doesn’t make sense.

Our kids usually start off with an old iPhone with the service shut off. This is a great “starter” phone because in an emergency they actually could call 911 (even with no service), AND I have apple products myself and am very familiar with the way they work. Apple products are also a breeze to restrict and I can control a lot of variables to keep     my kids safe. Another awesome thing about being a universally Apple family is that we can text and even call (using Facetime and Facetime audio) without any additional apps. We do, however, have some guidelines for their use. I go into more detail in my video below.

Restrictions that are made with the iPhone:
Under the restriction tabs (that is guarded with a parent only passcode) I make these modifications:

  • Safari is restricted to only sites I approve
  • The App Store is removed so they have to come to me to add apps (which I must approve)
  • No multiplayer games where they can connect strangers
    Anywhere I have the option to restrict explicit material I choose to do so

Restrictions that are made with our Disney Circle

  • The internet for certain devices has a “bedtime” thanks to Disney’s Circle and internet is disabled during certain hours. I can also pause the entire internet, for certain people or for certain devices at anytime. #SWEET (yes, the word “sweet” is totally 90’s, but I am okay with that)
  • This device also allows us to set time limits for certain sites like Pinterest, Netflix, YouTube. We had a problem of a certain child getting sucked into an app or two so we set time limits. When she hits those limits it cuts all of her devices off from that particular site/app.

  • It also allows us to restrict any guest phone/laptop that enters our wi-fi network. So if your kids’ friends bring over a devise that is not restricted I can filter them with preset filters for PreK/Kid/Teen/Adult.
  • You can also add “off times” if you would like their devices unconnected during the school day, dinner, family night, etc.
  • I highly recommend the Circle- completely easy to use and I can change the settings from anywhere and get notifications if/when my children hit their time limits.
  • PS this post is NOT sponsored – I purchased the Circle in January of 2017 and have been overall very happy with it!

Other trust-based guidelines

  • I only allow YouTube on Laptops and they are to be used in public areas
  • No social media (with some exceptions- I talk more about that in the video below)
  • No YouTube (allowed on the laptops that can be used in public areas
  • No texting the opposite sex (unless approved)
  • I have to approve the people you want to text, skype, chat or communicate online with (just to ensure that they are only talking/interacting with children they KNOW)
  • Parents must know all passcodes/passwords
  • Device must be turned in at night until that privilege is earned by respecting rules regularly
  • The internet in our home on those devices also has a “bedtime” thanks to (mentioned above).

When my oldest was a bit older (14-15) we turned on service to his device and he was allowed to text people of the opposite sex. He did still turn his devise into us at the end of every night, but as time went along we allowed him to keep it in his room with the expectation that if he chose to break any rules the phone would be taken away. All of our kids are reminded (ALL. THE. TIME.) that cell phones/personal devices are privileges, and if they do not handle the responsibility of them well we, as parents, have the right to revoke their use.

I’d love to hear what age you allow personal devices and/or cell phones and what your rules are in the comments!

The Right-Now

Today your curly head lay against my chest as you fell into your afternoon nap. As a mom of 8 I know how fleeting these days are. I know how bittersweet the quickness of it all is, but the years have also whispered wisdom into my heart. Wisdom that screams at me to be soak in this short season. Because to mourn for the moment before or to reach for the moment to come robs me of right now. If I keep that repertoire, stolen moments become all there ever is, and I have hoodwinked myself out of the beauty of my life. I have willfully traded it for the mirage of memories and plans not yet materialized. Listen moms, don’t fall prey to the lies that the yesterdays and tomorrows trump the right-now. The right-now is what your entire life is made of!

17 Years!

Seventeen years ago an 18 year old girl stood hand in hand with a 21 year old boy and said a few simple vows beneath stained glass and wood.

For better.

For worse.

For richer.

For poorer.

With God’s amazing grace we have honored those promises that were made while we so very young. Seventeen years of growing up together. Seventeen years of ups and downs and everything in between. Seventeen years of wrestling to make a marriage work in a culture that doesn’t value its importance. Seventeen years of adding, one by one, to this family of ours until our number reached 10. A number I never dreamed of, but that God had always known since the beginning of time.  Seventeen yeas of carving out a life where God comes first and everything else flows from that. Living out, in the flesh, the daily sanctifying work of family: the laundering and washing, the training and discipling, the serving and caring. Each task making efforts to smooth out the rough exterior of selfishness that is born in us since the time of Adam and Eve. Seventeen years of dreaming big, but most importantly dreaming together. There is absolutely NO ONE I’d rather be doing life with than my husband. Happy Anniversary, Mike!

Dear 8th Child,

Dear 8th Child,

One day you’ll be bigger than me. Your ideas and thoughts will be as wild and free as the wind, unique to only you. You’ll have sprouted wings and you’ll be standing on the edge of our little nest looking in awe at the big world that surrounds you. It will be exciting and terrifying and electric all at the same time. You’ll swing, at times, like a pendulum between boy and man. Between rowdy and responsible. You’ll have times where we, your parents, will be your soft spot to land and other times where the lies that we are against you will seem surprisingly true in your green ears. But know this. No matter what we love you. We want what’s best for you. We want to raise you to be a man of integrity and strength, but sometimes that comes with pain and failure. And it’s hard, damn hard. For both of us. To see your child struggle and fail is one of the most festering wounds a parents heart can have. But failure is the largest part of success. Picking yourself up and trying harder is a skill learned with practice. Making your path smooth and neat by removing all obstacles is not a long term solution to this broken world. We know you’re going to capable and competent, but you’ll have to be reminded of it at times by struggling and surviving it. And when you’re in the midst of it please KNOW that we are here. Know we will offer you love and support as you’re fighting the good fight. But also know that in time, when your slowly shedding the little boy façade, more battles will be left to you to fight. Know that in those in between years, as your boyhood is fading in a haze behind you and we aren’t stepping in to fix things, that we haven’t left you. We are preparing you. Preparing you to wield your strengths to help others and yourself. Preparing you to believe what God and we already know to be true: that you are capable. You are worthy. You are enough. Even in your brokenness. That you are given strengths to help others and given weakness to show God’s infinite strength. But for now… For now stay little for a while. Let mom slay your dragons for you. Rest your curly head on my shoulder when you’re tired. Because time is a thief and now is now and I will rejoice in you at this stage and every one thereafter.



March Favorites


What I am doing:

Kitchen work: Sheesh… – I don’t even know where to begin here! We decided to rip out our plate rack and within 1.5 minutes we were headed to Menards for some primer and paint… because that’s how we roll! Our former wood and cream kitchen now is a soft white. We still have to re-grout the backsplash, build a picnic table (for INSIDE), replace the pendant lights and shiplap the crap out of the kitchen island, but at least the painting is done, right?

Unit studies: I have confessed this before. I tweak EVERYTHING… even my own curriculum I tweak. Does that make me crazy? Unstable? Maybe… But there’s a blessing that comes with it! I have been doing little mini-unit studies to go along with my History curriculum and I am going to start sharing the resources I am using and what we are doing in blog posts AND with YouTube videos that SHOW how we are doing it!  Keep an eye out for that!

What I am Wearing

Acid wash leggings (from Kohl’s juniors department) – Need I say more?

Graphic Tees! The Brave Momma Company (10% coupon code “afarmhousefull”) and Never Lose Hope designs (coupon code “Nicci20” for 20% off) are my current favorites. Both are super soft and comfy and have messages that I can stand behind!

What I am Reading:

Some schooling inspiration

  • How Children Learn:
  • How Children Fail:
  • Teach Your Own:

As well as some mothering/parenting inspiration:

  • No More Perfect Moms:
  • No More Perfect Kids:
  • Professionalizing Motherhood:
  • Parenting is Heart Work:

What I am Making:


Besides failing 138 times at making a addition to a swimsuit (frogging work SUCKS!), I crocheted Easter baskets for all 8 of my kids – which I shared with you in my last blog post.


What I am Using:

I can not say enough about my new editing software. It is amazing and FREE! If you want their watermark removed it is still only $60. Totally worth every cent! I am so glad it is working out because after downloading 2-3 of them that I didn’t like I was starting to think I would never find on that was both user friendly AND had the features that I have been eyeing that my ancient Window’s Movie Maker didn’t have! The real reason I switched is because the computer that had it installed on it crashed and died. Any good recommendations for a PC laptop that can handle video editing well?


Quick Jute and Yarn Easter Basket Pattern | FREE!


Holding 2 pieces of yarn and 1 piece of jute twine make a magic circle

  1. Ch 2 tightly and work 8 hdc into loop, sl to join (8)
  2. Ch 1 loosely, starting in the same st as joined, 2 hdc in each hdc around, slst to join (16)
  3. Ch 1 loosely, starting in the same st as joined, *hdc 1, 2 hdc in next* 8 times, slst to join (24)
  4. Ch 1 loosely, working in the BLO (for this round only) of the hdc, hdc in each hdc around, slst to join (24)
  5. Ch 1 loosely, hdc in each hdc, slst to join
  6. Same as round 5

Ch 15, sc in second ch from hook and each ch after, finish off (14 sc)

Sew opposite end of handle to basket and weave in all ends.

Pin the letters/numbers print out to the felt and cut them out using small sharp scissors. Attach to baskets with hot glue or fabric glue.

Click here for the PDF letters/numbers printout.