A Small Family Thank You (& dreaming garden update)

Following Big Family Homestead (and others in the homestead community) has also given my husband and I a shared dream again that isn’t being crippled by our current finances or his job frustration.


You guys, being married is hard.

Hard in ways that I never could have fathomed before we got married. Not hard in the screaming yelling ways (though we’ve had our share of that) but in the “we just aren’t connecting” ways. It takes time to be good at it, and when you master one thing you find another that needs work, or you’ve been so busy on mastering this that you have to backtrack and fix things you hadn’t been focused on.

Parenting is also hard in unexpected ways. It requires much patience and you can’t be assured of a good outcome until much much later.

Making a French Press of coffee instead of using yee olde drip pot w/pre ground dirt, also difficult, sometimes finnicky, more time consuming, and requiring patience.

It would seem that many good things in life are this way. So of course my weird little heart is starting to fall in love with our garden and dreams of a homestead of our own, where nearly everything is much work, not assured outcomes, and oh, also, this is how you feed yourselves.

It was in one of these difficult seasons of marriage that my husband and I realized we had no hobbies in common.  I like to sew, paint, write, read & cook. He likes to game, both tabletop & video, do gaming related things, and shoot. Our interests don’t overlap as much as we thought they did when we were dating.

So we found ourselves, five years in, with a tiny baby, having month leftover at the end of the money, overall pretty crazy about each other, and in agreement on The Big Things – religion, finances, parenting, politics (ish), and the overall quality of Vin Diesel films (Sci Fi yes, Cars no). But we didn’t have anything to *do* together. Gaming early on in our marriage was disastrous for many reasons I will not go into here. So we prayed.

And we thought. And we prayed. And we thought. And I stumbled upon these lovely people –

Brad & Christa of Big Family Homestead have been a huge encouragement to me, personally, and also kind of set us off onto the “eventually we want a homestead of our own” path. Husband has always wanted to be off grid, and I’ve always loved growing things, but we didn’t know/realize that there was a community for this, a cohesive term for the thing we both wanted but couldn’t name. We thought we were just weird. Maybe we are weird, but we’re not alone in the weirdness.

Big Family Homestead is very open about their homesteading journey and the realities of their life/finances/etc. Brad does short devotional type videos, and for someone who’s has issues with church, and is slowly dealing with that hurt and baggage, crawling her way back to the Body of Christ after being deeply hurt – it’s safe. He’s not telling me I’ll go to hell if I don’t do X Y and Z, but rather just saying “Oh hey fellow Believer, here’s a thought, perhaps you can think on this too”. Christa homeschools or has homeschooled their SEVEN children, which gives me hope that if she can handle seven (and not look like a hot mess all the time) I can probably, maybe, handle one, and not cripple her little mind. She also makes amazing breads, and I have taught myself to make Husband bread following their videos (Bread! Demystified. Woo!).

Following Big Family Homestead (and others in the homestead community) has also given my husband and I a shared dream again that isn’t being crippled by our current finances or his job frustration. It gives us something to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon when we can sit down and watch homesteading videos on projects we’re dreaming of or attempting the next seasons and work to do together when it’s sunny. We aren’t an active part of the community like some because we don’t have a youtube channel, and we don’t have a homestead yet – we have our little dreaming garden – but it’s something we share and enjoy, and I love it. I’m pretty sure he does too.

While there are many in the Homesteading side of youtube (I’ll link to some other channels at the bottom) what I love about Brad and Christa is that they explain things in such a way that you think “Oh hey, I could probably do that!”. They don’t put on airs. Their house looks like a house full of children and family instead of like a magazine, they speak frankly about the realities of caring for a special needs child (one of their children has a g tube among other health issues) and their content (with the exception of perhaps goat birthing) is very toddler friendly. To the point that my toddler gets excited to watch new “FAMY HOSTEAD”. It’s adorable.

Despite all the crap they’ve been through in life, Brad is happy and upbeat. Christa is pragmatic without being bitter. I guess it’s easy to seem that way online, if you really really want to put forth the effort to be fake, but I really don’t think that’s the case here. I think they’re just genuine people who love God and love their family and love homesteading. They’re moving to a new farm, from a one acre homestead to a 30 acre farm with barns, and they’re sharing the journey of moving and setting up the new place. I’m so excited to watch.

If you’re even vaguely interested in homesteading, homemaking, or just watching interesting things, I suggest you take a look at Big Family Homestead. Aside from the information in their videos, BFH means a lot to our little family.

So, Brad & Christa, should you ever read this, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You. We are so excited for what’s happening with you guys, and to watch/support you in the journey God has you on.


Oh hey, speaking of gardens, I have a little one. Stuff is happening. By “stuff” I mostly mean stifling heat, but none the less, not everything is dead, so here’s where we stand in mid July:

Tomatoes. We have fruit! But this fruit was already setting before the blight got bad.

Tomatoes, Abe Lincoln
Tomatoes, Abe Lincoln
This is gross AND frustrating! Double points.
This is gross AND frustrating! Double points!

This is still happening, even after treatment/fertilization. I am much frustrated. Yes we have fruit, but we don’t have abundant “LOOK I CAN MAKE SAUCE” fruit. We have “1-2 sliced tomatoes with dinner a week” fruit. We’re still buying tomatoes at the store. I don’t see any fruit that’s set (or any more flowers) since the blight got bad, so I don’t know if we’re “done” after this and should just yank the plants, or if we wait and see.

Our Bean Box! You could say we’ve let it get out of hand, but that would imply we ever hand it “in hand” and knew what we were doing. We’ve had four dinners with beans (five, maybe?) have have 2 big bags of frozen beans in the freezer. So that’s something! Does anyone know if you’re supposed to prune/trim pole beans? Asking for a friend.

Green Beans
Green Beans box o’ doom.


Tasty dinner side. No we didn't eat the huge one.
Tasty dinner side. No we didn’t eat the huge one.

That box is going to have all the bean plants pulled at the end of this month, get a month or so to bake in the glorious southern heat (maybe with a light layer of DE on top? We have beetles and snails) before having more dirt/peat moss added and amending the soil for our fall garden. Is it really a fall garden here though, when it’s horribly hot into October?

We’re hoping to try some broccoli in the fall (low expectations y’all) and are going to plant a lot of collards again this year b/c they did SO WELL last year, we were quite pleased. Husband really wants to attempt carrots even after last years dismal experience, so we’re gonna to try pots now. Pots of carrots on a patio in the South. Okay.

Speaking of planting, we got seed mail today. I was so freakin excited. Also, they will allow you to order stickers and a magnet for free. These (plus broccoli) are what we’re going to attempt for fall/winter. Any tomato container gardening  in the south advice is welcome:


Big Family Homestead does a “seed swap” every spring, and we participated this year. We haven’t planted all the seeds we got, simply because we have to do everything above ground, and dirt/containers ain’t cheap y’all. I think this is a large part of my frustrations. Just planing something is a considerable time/energy/money investment, because we can put NOTHING in the ground here. Then it doesn’t bear fruit, and I feel like I’m wasting the limited resources we’ve been blessed with. But I’ve also learned that half-assing it doesn’t cut it. You HAVE to get good dirt, you HAVE to fertilize, you HAVE to water 2x a day on days it doesn’t rain, otherwise you’re just wasting money to enjoy cute seedlings that never produce food.

So of the seeds we got sent this year, here are three of the things that are actually doing quite well:

Behold! The Mighty Moringa! Husband takes capsules of this and it really helps with his back pain. So we're hoping to grow our own.
Behold! The Mighty Moringa! Husband takes capsules of this and it really helps with his back pain. So we’re hoping to grow our own.
Jalapeno. Which of course we eat very little of. Most of these will be given away. But look at how beautiful!
Jalapeno. Which of course we eat very little of. Most of these will be given away. But look at how beautiful! Dear other Peppers, take the hint.
Egyptian Spinach. This stuff is doing amazing in the heat here, and is really darn tasty.
Egyptian Spinach. This stuff is doing amazing in the heat here, and is really darn tasty.

The Moonflower (seeds I sent in for seed exchange) is finally starting to cover the bit of fence by the door. This makes me stupidly happy.


Bonus garden friend

He was about the size of my pinky fingernail.
He was about the size of my pinky fingernail.


So there’s where we are with our little dreaming garden. There are some of the people who have helped us recognize our dream, and here are others who are just so willing and happy to put gardening/homesteading content out into the world, and absolutely worth looking into :

Guildbrook Farm – family homesteading in North Carolina. Good canning/gardening/prepper info. Thoughtful explanations of how they got where they are and why they do what they do.

An American Homestead – Completely off grid homestead in the Ozarks. They don’t have a washing machine or flushing toilet, so maybe too hardcore for me. But I admire and respect what they’re doing, and they’re full of good, practical info.

Deep South Homestead – Older couple homesteading in the south, full of practical wisdom & southern charm.

David The Good  – This guy is really passionate about composting, permaculture, and being able to feed yourself via your garden should crap hit the fan. He makes white boy garden raps which are amusing. He and his family live somewhere in the tropics.



Balancing the Frump

Hey Stay At Home Mom (or Dad), can we talk?

You, sitting there in your yoga pants or ratty cargo shorts, in a sports bra and a shirt with mysterious stains. You ladies who live in the “mom uniform” of unwashed hair, yoga pants, and a sports bra day in and day out, can we talk?

Go take a shower, wash your damn hair, exfoliate your face, and put on mascara. 

I get it, we have mommy wars about everything, and at this point it’s weird bragging from some sects to talk about how long it’s been since you showered. In fact, one famous “mommy blogger/writer/tweeter” has made her career about how hard it is to be her and have children and do basic things, like dress herself and feed them. While she’s sometimes funny, after awhile she’s just depressing and nasty.

Yeah, I said it. I don’t like her. I think her children will one day read her stuff and be heartbroken and have serious issues. I cannot fathom why she recently got divorced, or why if basic life things like showering, eating and dressing are so difficult, why she had any children much less several. It’s one thing to show solidarity with moms who are in the weeds, to say “hey, it’s real, I’ve been here too, you aren’t a failure”. It’s another thing to glorify it and make it the norm, though.

(And I know I know, don’t judge. Fair point. But this lady is just glorifying being damaged, and damaging yourself further, and having no self respect. It’s not cool.)

Not showering is not normal. Never putting on makeup, if you wore makeup before kids, is not normal. Regularly wearing clothing that you wouldn’t mind getting ruined out in public all the time is not normal. Not caring about yourself and your appearance and your hygiene is not, in fact, normal. It’s a sign you’re out of balance, or that you’re depressed. 

So can we please stop acting like the “Mommy frump” is normal and okay, instead of a sign that we’re having a bad week?

I didn’t realize, personally, how  bad I was doing after my daughter was born, until I looked at my makeup bag when she was around 5 months old, and I realized I was so out of practice that I was actually afraid of putting on makeup.

I didn’t feel like myself, I wasn’t doing things *I* did to care for myself in my life before mommyhood, and that, I realized, was part of my problem. 

I love makeup. I’m good at makeup. To go out for tacos with friends usually takes me about 20 minutes on my face, and this amount of product(s):

TheMagicsInTheMakeupI like makeup. My husband courted, won, and married a woman who takes care of her hair and skin, and wears makeup. And he likes it, a lot. Your thing might not be makeup. You don’t NEED a small collection of NARS and Urban Decay to take care of yourself. It might be a nice french braid and a swipe of lip gloss, if that. It might just be being really clean and having painted nails.

Whatever your thing is, you do you. But DO IT. Don’t completely stop taking care of yourself, that’s not okay. You’re still a person, you’re still you. Being a mom adds, to who you are, it doesn’t take away.

I get it, bad weeks happen. Bad months happen. PPD is real, and it’s a fucking bitch, and if you have a breastfeeding child under 4ish months old, none of this applies to you, because the 4th trimester is just about survival of you and the tiny helpless thing you made.

But after that?

Whatever you did before you had kids, whatever you did when you started dating your spouse, you should start doing again. Even if you don’t do it as often. If you wore funky blue sparkles mascara and eyeshadow more days than not, you should at least be making the effort a few days a week. If you ran, you should go run. If you baked three days a week because that was your zen, for god’s sake, let Disney babysit the kiddos for an hour and make banana bread.


And take a shower. Showers are wonderful. You should shower every fucking day, even if it’s a quicky and you get ten minutes less sleep. If you have room, do some stretches in the hot water. If you can’t get in a full yoga practice, you can take five minutes in the shower and center yourself. Maybe even go crazy and put on deodorant and body lotion afterwards. And a bra that isn’t just a band that holds everything down.

You will feel better, you will be more relaxed, you will be a better wife and mom, and feel like less of a failure, if you can start to take care of yourself while you’re taking care of everyone around you. You are important, you should be cared for as well. 

The reality is that if you struggle with this, it still isn’t going to happen every day. And that’s okay. But efforts should be made. For your sake, for your family’s sake, for the sake of your marriage. Living in the frump, instead of making efforts to look like a reasonable presentable human being at least half the time, is not normal. It’s not okay. I don’t know how or why we’ve made it okay. We don’t feel better about ourselves with gross hair and yoga pants on, and what are we modeling for our kiddos, what kind of message are we sending our spouse?

Frump, 1,000%, has it’s place. Messy hair, old pants, a tee shirt that’s half holes but who cares because you love it and you’re just gonna sit on the couch and marathon something that isn’t PG on netflix? This is important. Bring it. Bloat pants for when you’re PMSing? Yes please. Friends who stand in sympathetic solidarity with you when you message them and go “It’s Wednesday and I haven’t washed my hair since Saturday”? We all need them. Life happens, and when you have tiny humans sometimes it’s just herding cats.

However, this whole mommy culture, and that one horrific semi-famous mom, who says that this is normal eight days a week? It isn’t. And the glorious comfort of not giving a fuck loses some of it’s allure and therapeutic properties when you LIVE like that. There has to be a balance. And daily showering.

You have to take care of yourself, and give a shit about yourself, and that includes your appearance. At least most days.