Saturday, November 29, 2014

why did i write that last post?

I mean I dont really believe in "jinxing" things, but man, my housekeeping has taken a nosedive since that last post.  More than jinxing, its probably "pride cometh before the fall".

I felt at my rope today, seeing toys scattered and piles of papers that appear from nowhere.  I knew it was bad when my husband wondered aloud how friends of our with 6 kids have a clean house. He wasnt comparing, he was just genuinely amazed because his home growing up was messy and my house growing up was messy and it just seemed miraculous to him that a big family kept it reasonably clean.

So, I am not making any claims today, but as I clean today,  I am listening to this podcast:  "Whose Well Done are you Working For?"   I think I need to hear that in a bad way. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

scheduling myself and finding peace

It has been quiet here.  I have thought about writing several times, but I am trying something new and I wanted to really stick to it to see if it works. It may be working. . .

You see, I am not a natural housekeeper.  I like a clean house, I have ve and ry good schedules for my children's chores, and I am even a good organizer of some things.  But the house just always seems to get away from me.  I get overwhelmed, dont know where to start, dont know how to prioritize.  And it all gets dirty again so quickly.

So I tried Fly Lady this summer.  It is a cleaning system to help you get housekeeping routines.  But her routines were too much for me, even though she breaks it down into small chunks.  Looking back, summer is probably not the time to start any kind of program because life is so topsy turvy.

So I took her ideas and made myself a schedule that fits my life.  I thought about the times when I actually have two hands free and I could do something around the house.  I thought about when I have little chunks of time and when I have bigger chunks.   And I thought about what my "zones" would be in my little house.

So here is what I have been doing for almost a month.  My house doesnt look a whole lot cleaner, but I know the piles that are gone that were there a few weeks ago. And I know how much  more peaceful I feel.  If I have a minute, I look at my schedule and see what to work on right then.  If something comes up and I cant work on anything, then I dont freak out because I know I will have time tomorrow or the next day.  Mostly it has helped me not feel overwhelmed, the schedule tells me what to do next.

For those who like details, here is a sample day:
clean kitchen table (so we can homeschool there later)
kitchen cleaning
start dinner (this is chopping veggies or something I cant do with a baby in arms)
my bathroom (cleaning my bathroom all at once is almost impossible for me to get to.  So I do one thing each day- toilet, sink, mirror, tub, floor.  Should mean I clean the whole thing once a week)
15 minutes on the zone of the week (my zones are my bedroom, babys room, kitchen, bathroom and closets, living room)
5 minutes on a hot spot (this is an area where clutter collects, like where I put bills, where my purse sits, countertops, etc)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

mother nurture

The past few days, really weeks, I have needed to be fed.  I feed children, pets, a husband, and do a lot of other activities that require something of me.  And thats OK, thats an honor. 

But Charlotte Mason was onto something when she coined the phrase "Mother Nurture".  Sometimes the mother needs to be mothered.    Our hearts and minds need something to pour into us to give us some fuel to keep pour into others.

So when I heard that one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver, was speaking just an hour away, a little voice started saying "Go!" 

And I did, and I was blessed.  She spoke with such grace and wisdom and warmth, I was beaming in the first 10 minutes I was there.  I didnt even take any notes, but here are a few parts I remember:

Advice to young artists:
  - Stop Smoking!  We need artists with lifetime of wisdom and experience to share with us.  (implied meaning- we dont want you to die young!)
- Live simply.  Dont move to New York to be an artist, or your life will be defined by money.  Live somewhere with low rent and living expenses so you have more time to make art.
- To students- study many subjects, not just the field of art you are working in. 

She described the writers life as ideal for an introvert.  8 hours by yourself typing is heaven to her. (Would be hard for me!)

She described the process of writing The Bean Trees as one where she had written many stories about the people she met in Tuscon and couldn't find a way they were connected to bring them together into a novel.  Then she realized the connection was her experience of meeting these people as an outsider looking in.  So that became the basis for the main character in the book. 

There is more, but that is all this tired mama mind can retain right now. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

almost the big one

my birthday is near and this year I have realized:

1)  All the things I want for my birthday are practical.  And thats really what I want.
- a dishwasher
- a grill
- my wedding ring fixed
- a bigger, better food processor

Sounds boring, but really any of those would be great.  Not things I need, but things that would be fun.  I guess I have never been a fur and diamonds kind of person, but at least at this point in my life, practical is awesome.

2) A lunch out with the girlfriends is just not happening right now.
We all have kids, some have many many kids.  And usually one is sick. 
Some of us homeschool which means the kids come along.
Girl time at a busy restaurant with energetic children. . . not gonna happen.

3) I really am OK with getting older. 
We got family pictures taken recently and my gray hair was all over the place.  Usually this would bother me and I would notice every wrinkle and tummy roll.  But all I could do is tear up at how beautiful our family is.  Those pictures captured it all (including grey hair) but also all the glory of love in our little home.

4) I am definitely ambivalent about technology.
I need a new phone.  Mine echoes at random times.  It cuts off conversations without warning. The next logical step is a smart phone.  Even my husband has one.  But I know at some level that being disconnected is good sometimes.  Silence and Solitude are valuable commodities.  Someday, I know I will cave and get a phone.  But for my birthday?  No thanks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

receiving the rain

Its been a dry spell. 

It hadnt rained for probably 3 weeks.  I noticed the lack of rain because, of course, I had planted winter rye and hairy vetch as a cover crop in the garden.  I watered the seeds and though some straggly little bits came up, it sure didnt look like the lush green carpet I was hoping for.

But then the rain came.  Now, we have had rain off and on for several days.  All the brown grass has brightened to beautiful green and where I planted those seeds there are now the beginning of a cover crop.

Though I watered it, paid attention to their growth, even called the seed company to see if I had done something wrong, there was nothing I could do but wait for a good soaking rain. 

Relationships have been like this for me lately.  I listen, I call, I text and sometimes the connection just doesnt happen.  Kids have sports. Moms are sick.  Relatives are in town.  Life is busy.

And all I can do is wait.  I can't force friendships to go how I want them to.  I can give my effort, but there is something more needed.  I don't know the word for it, its the soaking rain that makes relationships grow. 

I don't know the word, but I know it when I experience it.  And I know it is a gift. 

So I am waiting on that breakthrough.  I am waiting for some grace to pour down and soak in and strengthen the roots I can't get to.  I waiting for the growth to appear.

Monday, October 13, 2014

cleaning out the garage

nothing very exciting going on around here.  Just about the best thing in my life is having an (almost) cleaned out garage.  We were those people.  You know, the ones with a garage packed with stuff and no room for a car.  We have some new storage space now, so it was time to liberate the garage.  We moved in this house a couple years ago and many things were just dumped in the garage and pretty much labeled "deal with it later".  So now is later. 

Things we found:

My wedding bouquet. Yes, it is 17 years old.  Yes, it is dry and lopsided and not displayable.  and YES, i kept it because it brings tears to my eyes. 

A box of odds and ends from when my husband renovated the bathroom. . . in our old house.  Anyone need a fake gold toilet paper holder?

Dozens of lego instructions.  Reeeeally glad we held onto those, especially since it is impossible to recreate any of them now that the pieces have vanished.

Three tubs of fabric.  Ummm, maybe I have a little fabric hoarding problem.  In my defense, a lot of fabric was given to me. I see lots of sewing in my future.

A whole tub of vintage linens (tablecloths, pillowcases, crochet doilies, handkerchiefs).  I love these things. I would wallpaper my house in them if I could.  They were all my grandmothers.  I cannot part with them.  I need to find creative, non cluttery uses for them.  ideas? 

Just a few things that were taking up room i the garage.  Most of it is gone to the trash or to the other storage area.  Just a little bit more work and I can get the car in there!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

mama genius

Lest that title give the wrong impression, I am NOT a genius.  I am regularly beaten by my children in just about every board and card game.  The calculator is my best friend and it takes me forever to read a book.

But every mama is a kind of genius.  I realized this when my oldest was a newborn and I devoured the parenting books.  Sometimes he did just like they said, but many times the situation they described just didnt apply to us.  It was then that I realized there was a parenting manual inside of me, not necessarily a voice, but a strong knowing of what my baby needed.  That internal guide was right almost all the time.

The powerful thing about the internet, about this connecting of isolated mamas is that I can glean from the genius of many other mamas.  I can see an organization system that is the answer to my overflowing pantry.  I can find a jedi costume that requires just one bedsheet.  I can read a blog of a mom who has been where I am and come out on the other side. 

So here is a little piece of genius that maybe will help someone out there. 

A couple weeks ago we had hit a wall in math.  It was adding two digit numbers and it just got too confusing.  There were tears in math almost everyday.

I decided we needed to put aside the workbook and do math in a totally different way.  I pulled out one of the several change jars that take up space in our home.  (Seriously, does anyone else's husband have a change jar in their nightstand, on their dresser, on their desk and TWO on the hallway bookshelf? )  I told my son if he could count all the change in the jar, he could keep 10% of what he counted.  It was a game changer.  He now eagerly sorts, organizes and counts change.  We got some of those paper wrappers from the bank and he has gone through two of the jars already.  He loves it and it is helping me declutter.  Yay!  Ironically, it is doing all the same math skills we were doing in the workbook and he is writing down his work so I can check it and doing lots of adding in his head. 

What's your  latest mama genius idea?

Monday, September 29, 2014

crafting a life

We have, in essence, crafted the life that is just right for us. We are thoughtful in our decisions about what comes into our lives, about how we spend our time, about the things we say yes or no to, about the ways we earn an income. We've worked hard and lived simply so that we can be together as a family in the ways that we are each and everyday.

These wise words were from one of my favorite blogs, Soule Mama.  After another bout of frustration last week, I just told the boys that we needed to change things.  Because we can.   By choosing to homeschool, our family life has the freedom to say "This isn't working, we need to change something."  This journey is a creative endeavor, not static.  We can tweak, we can adjust, we can overhaul.

What freedom.

But there is a flip side to that, because as we "craft this life", we must limit ourselves.  We have said no to two incomes, no to expensive vacations, no to lots of wants.  But it has freed us to say yes to so much.  Yes to another story, yes to art time with Daddy, yes to climbing trees and sledding. 

We will continue to craft, to whittle, to sculpt out this life we have been given.  With grace and love.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

grateful for tomorrows

We had a bad day yesterday.  That was all it was, a bad day.

But today is tomorrow.  And we get to start new.  And we look back and we learn.

That evening baseball games require more sleep the next morning.

That mama really cannot give attention simultaneously to three children.  One must be occupied and then maybe she can work with two at once.

That some activities require quiet, and the living room/ kitchen area is not quiet.  The bedrooms are.

That the schedule serves us, we are not slaves to it.  So it isnt working, we can and should change it.

That sometimes we want creativity and fight against limits, but then we find that a few boundaries actually help our creativity.

Most of all, we learn that we are homeschooling because
 we are in this together,
we are not giving up on one another
 and we are tailoring this education to our needs. 

And we always have tomorrow.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

You may be a nerdy couple if. . .

You hurry to get the kitchen cleaned up and and kids to bed so you can be alone and . . .

watch The Roosevelts. 

Watch it! Its so good! :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A little Scot left in my soul

I dont know all the particulars, the ramifactions, the prognostications and the predictions of what Scotland's independence would mean.

I just know there is a part of me that wants them to vote YES. 

Like most Americans, I'm a mix. Mostly English, a bit of German, but a whole lot of Scot-Irish.  I don't quite get it, but basically my people were too ornery for the English to handle, so they gave them land in Ireland just to get them out of their hair. 

So you could say I get the Scots desire to break free from the harness of the oppressive regime.

It must be that Scottish part of me. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


We have all felt it, havent we? 

That tensing in the chest, maybe tears in the eyes.  And everything just feels. . . tight. 

Driving in a new city, repeating instructions for the 100th time, messing up a stitch and having to pull it all out.

My son felt it today.  A math problem that didn't make sense.  Mom's explanation just upped the tension.  Tears came.

Curled up in a ball, he concentrated his energy on the best cure for frustration-  breathing.

A lesson to myself.

When it is all too much.

Too much noise.

Too much confusion.

Too much clutter.

Too much pain.

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.

It will get better.

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.

You will make it.

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.

You aren't alone.

Friday, September 12, 2014

pin the post on the book game

Melissa Wiley started it.  She challenged her readers to post about a book on their shelves that they randomly pick.

My selection criteria was limited to the two shelves that have the grown ups books, but not the counseling books.  I flipped a coin to decide which shelf and then threw the coin at the shelf.  The book it hit was:

Unfortunately, I havent read that book. :(   But two doors down is the one Thomas Merton book i have read, the one that got me to recommend him to my husband,  who is the Merton reader around here. 

I may be the only teenage girl in history to take Seven Story Mountain as a beach read on a high school spring break trip.  Yeah, I was that kind of girl.  

Its an autobiography of a life that spanned continents, religions and for someone who took a vocation of keeping to himself, he was very connected with many great thinkers of his time.  

Thomas Merton is truly a fascinating person.  Full of contradictions and a continuous arc of growth and discovery in his life.  We have visited the Abbey of Gethsemane several times.  A little oasis of quiet amidst the farms.  

Maybe not a beach read, but definitely thought provoking and inspiring.  Below is the famous prayer by Merton, from Thoughts in Solitude.  (Hey, I have read that one too!)

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

No Whining, No Comparing.

Tomorrow night I am having a group of moms over for brownies, fellowship and discussion centered on the topic of "How to teach kids that would rather make forts all day."  A topic I completely ripped off from Andrew Pudewa.  You can download the talk here. 

Since we are all moms and none of us have time to waste, I want the discussion to be a time of building up and leaving with some ideas and tools we may not have come with.  So I thought some ground rules might be necessary.  I came up with two essential ones, maybe there are more, but these are good start. 

No Whining.  We are not here to complain about our active, energetic kids.  Every child is a blessing, a gift.  God has given us these kids for a purpose and it is with deep gratitude that we consider how to teach them well.  We dont need to convince anyone that it is hard to be a parent of any kid.  Complaining can be a snowball, the more you do it, the more things you see to complain about.  Avalanches are destructive, our discussion is to be constructive.

No Comparing.  A wise man once said "Whenever you compare, it never comes out even.  Either you are better or you are worse."  God didn't give our kids to anyone else, just us.  We aren't living anyone else's lives, just ours.  There is no script for this adventure, we write it as we go.  So let us focus on humility, on seeing ourselves as God does.  We can glean from the wisdom and experience of others, but not hold them (or ourselves) up as measuring stick of success.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

More and All Done

My baby girl can talk.  Well, she can sign some words, and that is a great step. :)

As I was wiping up the dropped bits of strawberry, peas and beans  (she drops food as she loses interest in it) my son said, "All Done is a really important thing to know how to say."

Yes, it is.

How many struggles in my life revolve around knowing when to say "enough" or "no, I can't" or "sorry, not today" ?  I get stretched beyond myself so easily and run out of time, energy and patience. How many burdens in our society such as credit card debt, obesity, stress, etc.  stem from the lack of saying "All Done"?

And More?  How many times do I hold back from reaching out to someone who is lonely because I am too consumed with myself?  Why won't I just sit and be still with God?  Why do I say "More" to the things that drain me instead of the life-giving things?

Today was our first day of starting the full school schedule and I was wiped out by lunch.  It is a time when we are all learning together how to say "More" and "All Done" and to discern when to use them. 

All done with blaming, judging, criticizing and stewing.

More love, grace, laughter, hugs and hope.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

working on my attitude

Recently I was put in a position I didn't really ask for.  It isn't a huge burden, but it does take some of my time and puts extra responsibilities on my shoulders.  How do I approach this?  How do I face this situation?

My natural inclination is to get frustrated with others that won't help.  To feel very righteous that I am working and serving others while the rest of the crowd just takes and takes.  I keep a little mental list of all who dont measure up to what I think they should be doing.

But. . .

What if?

What if I chose to be thankful for this way I can love God by loving others?  What if I prayed for each person I am around and looked for God's image in them?  What if my attitude was welcoming and warm?  What if making others know they are precious was my highest priority?

What if I took all that energy I usually spend on being negative and blessed others with no expectations? 

What if? 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Lessons from Farmer Boy

I have had the great pleasure of reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder to my young son.  My older son is usually working on something else, but the story is so good, he is often drawn in too.  Here are some things that have come to mind from this wonderful book.

We are producers. - God made us to make things.  We are co-creators.  The lie of advertising is that we are made to consume, but actually we are made to produce.  With the gift of good land and strong bodies, we can make our own food, clothes and furniture.  Let us not lose sight of this truth.

Work is good.- We have been made to think that work is the drudgery we get through to get to weekends or vacations.  And yes, we all need sabbath and rest in our lives, but the ability to work and provide for our families is a blessing.  Just ask someone who is disabled or unemployed.

Mothers as teachers.- Almanzo's mom is just pretty awesome.  She is a baker, a seamstress, a weaver, a canner, a hatmaker, and a shrewd bargainer with peddlers. She does it all, but she isnt a helicopter parent.  She is a teacher and we see the daughters have learned many of her skills (ice cream making!!) and are very competent.  For all the technology and growth of knowledge we have now, there is much we have lost.

Respect goes both ways-  Almanzo's father is respected, even feared (in a good way).  But the beautiful thing about the father- son relationship is how his father really respects Almanzo and teaches him to be a man by talking to him with respect.  He gives him life lessons, but he also puts him in positions of responsibility.  And Almanzo learns that he really is a strong, smart boy.

Boys have so much to offer-  In our society, Almanzo would probably get diagnosed with something and medicated. He itches to be outside and to be with the horses, be with the men working, be out and busy.  Contrary to current perceptions, this is a GOOD thing.  Boys have so much energy that can be used for productive, useful things.  They want to be helpful, they want to be a contributing part of the family.  Lets unplug them from meaningless video games and give them real tasks that take real strength and skill.

So much more I could say.  This book is a delight.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

reality and grace

I have read blogs in the past that are like a Martha Stewart show.  Lovely photos, lovely words, lovely homes, lovely food. Pretty Pretty Pretty.  And there is a place for those blogs. 

But I had to stop reading them.

Part of me liked them, but part of me walked away feeling frustrated and sad.  I'm not proud of it, but I would definitely line up with the results of this study. 

BUT there are some blogs out there that have blessed me immeasurably.  There are women who have shone light on my path through their writings.  In years where I really struggled with motherhood, they inspired and encouraged me.  Their blogs were and are REAL.  They dont air all the dirty laundry of their families.  No one wants that.  But they share struggles selectively and their attempts to persevere.  Its not a whine fest either.  Lots of joy, lots of gratitude.

Those blogs are the ones I keep reading.

I want this blog to be real. Just 5 minutes of sharing, reflecting, and maybe sometimes venting.

In the spirit of honesty, I have to say that it was a hard morning today.  I added on some more subjects to our slow start of school.  I showed my oldest the checklist he would have this year. It was overwhelming and there were some tears.  Growing up means more responsibility and if we can all be honest here,  sometimes that aint fun.  (Hence the piles of laundry waiting to be folded here)

But we also learned about grace today.  Mama is here to talk with you about these responsibilities, to help you learn to shoulder them and walk by your side.  We will tackle the hard things together and not give up.  We live in reality and we live in grace. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A peaceful beginning

Our little Classical Conversations group has grown this year.  i added up 88 people there yesterday!  Wowzers.  Considering that 18 of those are in the nursery, lets hope the little people dont rise up against us old folks. 

This is my third year of directing and I can say it was the least stressed beginning I have had.  I think people who have been around for a while have hit their groove and it is easier to welcome the many many new people.  Kids know what to expect, Mamas know what to expect and it all goes pretty well.

That to say, we had some wailers in the nursery, some very shy kids making it through presentations and some boys with enough wiggles for a can of worms.  But it is typical first day stuff.

So I sit here with a very thankful heart.  For the friends God has brought to me to walk on this road of homeschooling.  For a beautiful program that gives us guidelines and freedom all at once.  For healing from the years of homeschooling in isolation without the encouragement of other crazy mamas.

Im grateful.   Here's to a great year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

i can type this while i am on hold

i am on hold with our internet company.  I am having to "say" what i need and the robot is supposed to understand me.  The problem is the robot doesn't understand me because what I need is not one of the 5 words the robot can understand.  So I just keep talking and eventually a human will answer.

This is one of those times when I really wonder if technology has made us smarter.  Used to be I could call one person and they had the skills to answer questions about a wide variety of subjects related to their field.  Now it takes a LONG time to even to get a human.  And that human doesn't know much about anything besides what is on their computer screen.  So if I have a question about a bill and customer service I get transferred.  More waiting, more writing time. 

Recently I had a problem with a bricks and mortar store.  I went online to find customer service and talked with someone from a number I got there.  I found out that this large, nationwide company has no connection between their bricks and mortar stores and their online version.  One hand does not know what the other is doing.

Just finished with my call.  At the end, they asked if I wanted an upgrade. I said maybe if they get it working at all, I will see what the quality is and see if I want an upgrade.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

love of danger

My baby entered a phase this week that all my kids have gone through.  When she gets bored with eating something, I can coax a few more bites from her if I let her eat it off a fork.  Maybe its the texture, maybe its just something new.  But I bet there is something in her little mind that is like "oooh, its sharp! I pokes! I want it!" 

Its the same attraction we all have to fire, the love we have for fireworks, swimming, etc.   We know there is a little bit of danger involved and for some reason we are drawn to it.

I saw this TED talk recently:  5 dangerous things you should let your kids do. 
The speaker actually has a book with 50 dangerous things, which I would be interested in seeing.  Now, I dont let my kids go crazy.  I have a no football, no boxing rule.  I just worked too hard on those brains to see them get bruised up. But I do let my kids build things, burn things and try out stuff.  My husband lets them do even more.

What I loved about his talk was that in doing the "dangerous" things, kids learn about limits.  They learn how close to fire feels good and how close will hurt you.  They learn how to hold a drill so the screw goes in and doesn't fly around ( a lesson I am still learning) They learn where their limits are and what they can do.  They learn they are strong and smart.  All good stuff. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

calm before the storm

It is quiet.  The neighborhood kids have gone back to school.  The boys are at grandmas today.  We are starting to start our school year.  I dont like to jump in all at once.  (Funny, Im that way with the swimming pool too)  A few years ago we started this graduated process of starting school and it is much gentler on all our lives.  Here is how it looks this year:

All summer: reading and math
this week:  reading, math, composer study
next week: reading, math, CC memory work, US notebooks, read alouds, IEW
after labor day:  all of it! 

It helps us tweak the schedule before the onslaught of sports and tutoring sessions dominate.  It works for us.  For now, at least. :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

a change of view

Sometimes I need to get out.  Get out of the house with never ending laundry.  Get away from the screen of a computer that sucks me in.  Get free from the many shoulds and musts that I carry in my mind.  Get a new perspective when I feel frustrated and saddened by others. 

In other words, take a hike. 

This weekend we did the worlds most painless camping trip.  One night only, at a friends farm just 10 minutes from home.  Hot dogs, marshmallows.  Then mom goes home with baby and they both sleep in real beds.  In the morning I brought breakfast and we took a hike in the woods.  Nothing special, no caves, natural bridges or historical sights.

Just me and my boys and dirt, rocks, sticks and trees.  Beautiful. 

It didn't solve the relationship problems, clean my house, or bring back Robin Williams.  But somehow a hike always helps me shed a little of the weight of this world. 

I cant really explain how.  My circumstances haven't changed, just the way I view them.   I think seeing all of creation helps me know I am held by the Creator.  All these things that burden me are not greater than Him.  It is all in his hands.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

the tomatoes survive

I posted a while ago about my "30 minute" gardening, which is based on about the max stretch of time I get out in the garden in one day.  

The problem is, I dont get that stretch of time everyday.  And the weeds grow everyday.

If you were to look at my garden today you would see a big mess of weeds.  If you dont know where to look, you might think it is ALL weeds.  But then you would see a little flash of red and realize that there are some tomatoes out there.  They have made it despite my lack of discipline. 

We have  counterful that are ready to be made into sauce or salsa or soup.  They have that lovely round shape and the tender but not mushy skin.  For us tomato lovers, it is perfection.

And that is how my life is.  Lots of weeds.  Lots of weakness, failings, disappointments in myself and others, shortfalls, hubris, good intentions that fall short.

But sometimes there is a glimmer of red, a bit of sweetness and beauty.  There is fruit being born, life continuing.  Grace being poured out on my weak self.  Morsels for the blind beggar. 

It doesn't (and never has) depended on me.  God uses me, with all my inabilities and brokenness, and makes good things.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

looking at old pictures

We are making a desperate attempt to be good parents and go through old pictures on the computer.  It has been YEARS, like several of them, since we have gotten photos printed on actual paper.

As we look at pictures from long ago, it is good and sad-  that is why we have the word bittersweet.  Those round baby faces were so real at that moment, but now they are different.  Still sweet, but bony and angular.  The things that brought them joy are the same as now, just in different ways.  We dont roll the ball, we swing a bat at it now.  We dont scribble on paper, we draw intricate scenes of movies. We dont wrestle. . . oh wait, we still wrestle.

I see things I miss, things I regret. But I see so much more that I treasure, that I look back on with deep gratitude.  Thankful for the grace that held us in so many moments.  The gift of family.

Friday, August 8, 2014

i won the humility prize. . .

. . . but they took away the medal because I wore it.  :)

True Story-  The other day I was thinking about a friend who had said a negative comment about someone else and I thought, "Wow, she really needs to learn humility.  I would never say that." 

Yeah, between the publican and the pharisee, I think we all know which one I sound more like.

This week had plans, lovely plans.  I am SO GOOD at plans (that lovely humility I do so well). 

But then there was life, REAL LIFE.   Friends wrestling with big issues that just need to talk.  Children that need attention.  A phone call to a doctors office that turns into four phone calls to insurance companies.  Any semblance of productivity faded away. 

But this is good.  This is all what a proud peacock like me needs.  I need to be reminded now and then that all I want to happen may not be all He has for me.  Faithfulness (which is connected to a person- God) is my purpose rather than Success (which is connected to tasks). 

As with the appearance of light, darkness retreats; so at the fragrance of humility, all anger and bitterness vanishes.  (St. John Climacus)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

some days it just doesnt happen

Sometimes you need to talk

sometimes you need to listen

sometimes the toilet breaks

sometimes it takes two trips to the hardware store to fix it

sometimes you need to work

sometimes the internet is off

no cleaning, no working

some days are like that.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

the kitchen, my nemesis

This will be quick, I hear the baby stirring.

Its a case of if you give a mouse a cookie.

If you cut up a watermelon, even if you are careful and have a cookie sheet to catch the mess, you will get drips on the floor.

And those drips will stick to your shoes and spread and you will not see the juice, but you will hear it and feel it as you stick stick stick while you walk. 

You will mop the floor, finding lots of dried bits of food to be scraped off. 

You will see the wall behind the baby's chair needs washing. 

And the door.

And the table legs.

And before you know it, you and Magic eraser have spent a lot of time together getting drips and spatters off places you dont usually see.  But the table leg looks like a different color now and the magic eraser is a dingy gray.  So its all good.

And then you turn and see that this is just one half of the kitchen.  The other half is the one you actually cook in and the thought of all the spatters and dust on surfaces on, in, above and around those cabinets makes your head spin.  The magic eraser runs away screaming.

That will have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

7 rooms, 7 days, 7 hours

The other day I was feeling that familiar sense of despair at the mess in my house.  I knew this week was a more open schedule than other weeks, but I still was so overwhelmed and didnt know where to start cleaning.

Then I started counting the rooms in our house.  Its not a big house, theres actually only 7 rooms.  2 baths, 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen.  The mudroom and garage are another matter entirely:) 

I thought, here I am with a week, which has 7 days, and 7 rooms to work on.  If I spent one hour a day (which is one baby naptime) on each room, it would make a real dent in this mess. 

So, I am on day 3 of this experiment (more or less).  Here is how it has gone so far:

Saturday:  this was the day the idea came to me, so I didnt really have a plan yet.  I think i put away laundry, which should count for something.

Sunday:  cleaned our bathroom which would have been condemned if the health dept had seen it.  it was SO bad.  I still need to tackle the closet in our bathroom, but that exceeded my 1 hour of time.

Monday:  This was a busy day with other things, organizing at our CC facility, making pickles, babysitting, having a friend over.  I didnt really get much cleaning done. 

Tuesday:  This is called the most productive day of the week for a reason.  I had no out of the house plans, so I got our bedroom looking a lot better (mostly by putting away my craft stuff) and finally got rid of some things that have sat around for years that can now go to the thrift shop. I also worked on homeschooling stuff, which kind of counts for the living room since that is where the baskets I cleaned out are housed.

Whats left? 
Boys room- I have organization plans for in there, but need hubbys help with a shelf installation.
Boys bathroom- they actually keep theirs cleaner than we do ours, but the linen closet needs some help.
Babys room- this doesnt have too much, but there is another season change coming and I am pretty sure her 12 mo dresses are too short even for a baby so the ceremonial switching out of clothes must be done.
Kitchen- this is the room that could just get cleaned forever.  the task I am avoiding the most which probably means it is the most urgent is cleaning out the fridge.  You know its bad when an unknown spill is making the crisper drawer stick to the bottom of the fridge.  ick. 

I will keep you posted on my progress.  4 days left. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

pain, beauty and joy in the deepest parts of us

I listened to Radio Lab today and it was all about memory.  They found people who had lost their memories to amnesia could still remember pain and music. There was even a conductor who didnt talk but could remember how to conduct when he heard a familiar piece.

Somewhere, deep in us is the capacity to feel joy and pain even if we cant remember where we are or who are loved ones are.  What does that say about us, about how we are made?

I am not a philosopher, but it seems that when all the things we have worked to make ourselves into are taken away, all the thoughts of our achievements and accomplishments disappear,  we are left with something more.  Deep down we are drawn to the good and recoil from the bad.  From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense to avoid something that could cause harm.  But why music?  Why do we still sing when we cant remember anything else?

Maybe because we came from heaven and are meant for heaven. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

a brief history of love songs over 20 years of loving (and 17 of marriage!)

We dont really have "our song"  but these are a few I love that come close.  Warning: Some of these videos contain almost nudity, scenes from Twilight, etc.  I am not condoning the videos, just the songs.  Put them on while you do something else on the computer. :)

** update** my sweet husband played a song this morning that he wrote and recorded for the night he proposed.  We are both in a musical mood this anniversary.  I love you honey, forever and ever. 

This was sung at our wedding:

This has been a song I have in my head every anniversary
I heard this one last year and was brought to tears by the lyrics and his voice
I heard this song in Lowes (a place that always reminds me of my husband) and knew it would go on the list.  This is the voice I wish I had, but dont. :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

What I want to be. . .

I want to have a regular cleaning schedule, but I am usually just doing the thing that looks the worst.
I want to get up early and walk, read scripture and pray, but I am always squeaking out the few minutes of sleep that I can while hubby gets breakfast ready.
I want to paint furniture in cool trendy colors, but i just keep wiping the grime off and saying someday.
I want to bake great nutritious muffins and breads, but we eat a lot of cereal.
I want to grow lots of vegetables and preserve them, but I am usually just whacking down weeds.
I want my kids to look nicely dressed, but most days their pants are too short and their shirts are stained.

There is what I want, and there is real life.  I live in a real world where babies want to be held, laundry never stops and the phone rings at the most inconvenient times.  Where date nights are few even though we have grandparents nearby.  We are always running just ahead of the chaos that is pounding at the door.  We have some routines that provide a barrier, but still we are in a season where our time is not our own.

but that is what it means to be a family, and thats really all I want. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

holding with open hands

A friend told me yesterday that she is going to move away.  I knew this was coming, her husbands job was just temporary, but still I felt that familiar ache.

I grew up in a town with lots of coming and going.  People came for a season in their lives and then left.  My best friends were the ones who stayed.  It takes time to build friendships, for roots to go deep.

As an adult, I lived in a situation where we were hosting many groups that came for a few weeks or a few months.  We laughed, we got to know each other and then it was time to say goodbye again.  I often has wistful feelings of wanting more time with them, but I knew it wasn't forever. 

The most painful goodbyes were the friends we wept with, we watched get married and have babies.  We spent long evenings with wine and conversations and we celebrated birthdays together.  They held my babies and I gave relationship advice.  When they left us or we left them, it hurt so deeply.

So now I am back in my hometown that still has a revolving door of people.  I try to love deeply as I can while people are here, but I have to admit that part of me holds back.  Part of me is testing the waters to see if they really will stay before I commit.  Because leaving and being left hurts. 

God, help me to love with a full heart. Help me to hold friends with open hands. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

at the end of the day

one child sleeps
two boys talk
a cough
two hummingbirds play tag outside the window
the kitchen is clean (enough)
a load in the washer is done
diapers are dry outside (dont forget to bring them in!)
I sit, I rest
a rumble in my stomach tells me cereal time is coming
I wait for the thump of a car door
the squeak of the front door
that tells me
my love is home

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

planning homeschooling, continued

I dont have much more to say on how I plan, but I have a few things that I should have mentioned:

Strengths, Weaknesses and time investment-  The number one thing I love about homeschooling is the gift of time.  More time to play, more time to talk, more time to work on things we love.   But our time is limited too.  There is always more I want to do than we have time for.  And if I book us solid, I am missing out on that all important "down time" where kids create things, discuss things, and just dig in the dirt. So each year I look at what our kids strengths and weaknesses are, my husband is a great sounding board for this.  He sees things I dont.  And besides the basics of the 3 Rs, I design the activities we do around what our kids do well and what they need more work on.  For instance, my oldest really gets grammar.  Really.  He can diagram just about anything. So, besides the class he has each week at Classical Conversations, we don't do English grammar at home.  He gets it and there are other things we can do like learning Spanish that reinforce grammar but are a whole new area he can grow in.  So strengths we just touch on, but we dont go in depth.  Weaknesses are where we have to be disciplined, because its the area we all want to avoid.  So everyday we do some math, even in the summer.  Every day we practice reading, even in the summer.  We need to practice, so we do the time.  Small chunks, but everyday.

Art isnt optional- For a long time, I left art for the extra time.   I thought we needed to work hard on the "academics" and then art was just for fun.  It isnt.  Seeing, understanding and producing beauty integral to our education.  So now I schedule it for every Friday (and Thursdays too, if Dad can teach it) I dont have any great curriculum for this.  Pinterest gives me lots of ideas, but honestly the art activity my boys were raving about and still ask to do again was when we looked at still lifes in books and then I had them search the house for objects to put in a still life.  Then they drew them. So simple, but they thought the finding objects and arranging them was awesome and then drawing them was icing on the cake. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

simple homeschool planning

I once tried a strict homeschooling schedule for our family.  It lasted a day, maybe.  It was too stressful for all of us to be chained to a clock and took away our attention from the task at hand.  I know it works for some, but not for us.

I have gone to the other extreme too, just having general goals for the day, but no clear road map for getting there.  For me that has meant way too much time in our pajamas and breakfast dishes that seem to stay on the table all day.  At the end of the week it is hard to see what was accomplished. 

I have found a middle ground in the past couple years that works for us.  It keeps things simple and focuses our time and attention on the things that really matter.  It does take discipline for me to get the day started and get the kids to finish their morning chores, but then the machine starts going by itself and we accomplish a lot over the course of the year.

Here are the parts of my planning:

Booklist-  This is the heart of it all. Quality books, no twaddle make up our reading.  I dont own all the books I would like to read, but we have a good library that helps.  I do budget a little each year to get a home library built up.  This includes books we read together and independent reading.  These books are mostly historical fiction and literature.  We also read daily from a history spine like Story of the World or Mystery of History.

Checklists-  For each child, I make a checklist of what they do.  Some things are the same everyday, some things change with the day of the week.  But this is mostly a repeating routine, so they know "Math" means 30 minutes of math work.  It doesnt take a lot of explanation once we have the rhythm established

Notebook-  Last year I instituted a notebook (3 ring binder) for their Classical Conversations memory work.  That consisted of 24 numbered tabs for the memory work of each week.  I printed off lots of worksheets and things to fill out.  This year I am super simplifying that and will have graph paper for math each week, tracing paper for geography each week, lined paper for latin and grammar,  and plain paper for drawing/writing history, science etc.   We are also doing a separate notebook for the 50 states.  

5 minutes is up, so I may continue this tomorrow. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

how she sees herself

I saw a report today that overweight kids generally dont know that they are overweight.  As they broke down the statistics, one thing stood out to me.  Not all the overweight kids were oblivious.  The girls knew. 

From a young age, these girls had seen ads and movies that showed thin women.  Not healthy sized women, but starve yourself thin women.  They had played with dolls that looked more like aliens than women.   And they had entered into the trap of comparison, always coming up short.

I see the way my baby girl sees herself now.  She chews on her toes.  In the bath, she explores her belly button.  And frequently when she has sticky hands, she runs her hands in her silky fluffy hair.  She knows she is fearfully and wonderfully made.  She rejoices in her body. 

As she grows I will have to teach her the tricks.  How to find clothes that are both modest and flattering.  How to see that the before pictures always have no make up, poor lighting and ratty hair. How to know when it is just enough make-up to bring out your best features, but not to look like a plastic doll.

But before all that, I want to teach her what she already knows right now as a baby.  Her body is wonderful, miraculous and precious.  She is a masterpiece.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

maybe shorter than 5 minutes today

Because I am standing up and I need to go to the bathroom.

But take time to read this today.  If you are like me you will be smothering your laughter because a baby is sleeping and tears will roll. 

It is funny that with my third kid, getting up in the night has not been as stressful for me.  She doesn't sleep any better than the other two did at this age, but maybe I am just able to let go and hold her and soak it up.  Or maybe I am to tired to stress about it anymore.

Monday, July 21, 2014

just in time. . .

A couple weeks ago I performed the ritual thousands of moms are doing right now. 

I made up a family schedule for this fall.

When your primary job is to keep you home running, this is a big event.  There are many needs to consider, many activities with fixed times and days, and as a homeschool mom, there are chunks of time we need to be home and things we hope to fit into that time.   Its not an easy task.

But I wrote that schedule and just let it sit.  I went away for a while, I thought about my goals, my desires and my children's ages and stages. 

I am so glad I did.  That little time away to breathe, to consider, to reflect makes all the difference.  Then, providentially, I saw this website.  Go there and look.

Yes, yes.  This is what my heart was telling me in that down time.  I needed to remember that teaching from a state of anxiety or panic or worry isn't why I am doing this.  Rest, space, down time.  That is why we are homeschooling.  This little blip called childhood is a small percentage of our lives and I want my children to roll around in it, to soak in the space where creativity is born.  To eat up all the good stuff I can give them.

So i will go back to that schedule soon and toss out the things I have on there because some voice inside told me I "should".   I will look at what is the essence of our education.  What matters most.  That is what I will keep.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

things I am picky about- travel cups

I am not a princess.  I do not have to have things just a certain way.  I sit here writing while i eat crackers from a box and hummus from the container, just so I dont have to wash dishes.  I am VERY low maintenance.

But, there are a few things out there I am picky about.  i may do a series of posts on these things.  I may not. 

When i was pregnant, i had various health problems and the answer to every single one was- DRINK MORE WATER.   Literally 100 ounces a day.  I mean literally in the literal sense- 100 OUNCES A DAY.  Ok, sorry for shouting.

So I got picky about what containers I used for my water.  I love how water tastes in glasses, but it does make a mess and for a mama on the go, i need something that can take a beating.  I tried the insulated cups with straws and found they leaked, cracked and spilled when knocked over.  Metal sports water bottles were good for most things, but sometimes hard to get ice in, and i like my water cold. 

This week I may have found the perfect water cup.  If you have an Aldi store, get there fast.  They have a deal with two insulated cups that look like mason jars.  They come with straws (which are taped to the underside of the packaging, so dont be a dummy like me and forget to untape one and throw it in the recycling :(  ) but they also have a sippy part that has a flap that covers it.  It is great because you unscrew it and there is a wide mouth for putting in ice.  You can use the straw or the sippy.  AND you can put hot or cold in it!!! I love sweet tea, and i usually just make it by the glass, so these are perfect for that.   I think they run 2 cups for $8 or something.

A little summertime pleasure for the picky water drinker.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I have lived long enough to have a variety of friendships.  The kind that are full of laughter.  The kind that go to deep, difficult subjects easily.  The kind you can call on for whatever is needed and you are there for them in need too.

And I have had friendships change.  Sometimes it is a blossoming from and acquaintance to a true friendship.  From that "we should really get together sometime" to actually finding the time to spend time together, even if it is just to run after kids at the park.  Sometimes a friend becomes a coworker, and sometimes the other way around.

But, like most people, I have had friendships that have grown distant.  Sometimes physically, when one of us has moved away and it is just harder to communicate.  And at times someone has backed off and given less time and energy to the relationship.  Sometimes that was me backing off, needing space.  Sometimes it was the other person.

I know a friendship can change for all the right reasons, but I also know it can be painful.  

A strange 5 minute post today, but there it is.

Friday, July 11, 2014


I have a friend who's teenage son flies planes.  Yes, FLIES PLANES!!!  Just thinking of a teenager behind the wheel is stress inducing, but a plane!!!

What I admire about this mom is her utter confidence in him. She has taught him how to learn and trusted that as he worked hard at aviation classes, he would have the tools he needs to fly.  And he does.

My oldest is going to take a big step in a few days.  Its not flying a plane, but another way of learning independence.  It feels like a big deal, but really we have been working towards this for years.  First with picking up his toys, then with putting his plate in the dishwasher.  Then feeding pets, then cleaning the bathroom.  He is able to take this step and succeed.

Am I?  Can I learn from my friend and be confident in him?  Be confident in me? Can I rest knowing that this child was never truly mine, but a gift given to me for a time so that I could give him to the world? 

Fly, my sweet one, fly. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

create a little every day

eat breakfast
nurse baby
get dressed
start laundry
clean up kitchen
check that kids did chores, violin, reading
baby down for nap
listen to kid read
garden (if its not too hot)
baby wakes
nurse baby
check math of older kid
make a phone call
make lunch
eat lunch
clean up from lunch
kids to rest time
make tea
check email
write on blog
computer work
make important phone calls that cant be interrupted
kids up
run errands (maybe)
clean house (maybe)
play with baby
make dinner
eat dinner
clean up dinner
take kid to karate, tennis, whatever
work in garden (if not too hot)
get baby ready for bed
hubby home
baby to bed
boys to bed
fold laundry
hubby and me time
knit a little, sew a little, create something
read a little

This is a pretty accurate view of a normal day here.  This is definitely a summer schedule, one that doesnt have much schooling going on in it.  The creating part is just a little 30 minutes or 1 hr at night, when hubby and I can talk and my brain is too tired for much else.  I dont finish projects very fast.  I dont do anything very complicated.  But for me, that little bit of handwork feeds me and fuels me for all the other things I do, which is another kind of creating.  Creating a home. :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

30 minute gardening- in a 5 minute post

I told my husband I could write a book called 30 minute gardening.   Because I love to garden, but my life now allows only about 30 minute chunks of time to work on any one thing.  (Or, for this blog, 5 minutes)

Background:  I am a gardener.  Its inherited from both grandparents.  Something about my pioneer ancestors makes it impossible for me to not dig in the dirt.  Even when we were living in our first apartment, I had pots and pots of plants, even in the bathroom!  Our first townhouse I had a 3x 3 plot by our grill where I crammed in tomatoes and basil. 

Caveat: I am not an amazing gardener.  My beds are not a pinterest post waiting to happen, but there is something in me that just cant NOT plant things.  Sometimes things go well, sometimes they flop. And I am now out of my perfectionism stage and am just thankful for anything that grows. So if you want a Martha Stewart garden, this advice is not for you.  If you have a million other things going on in life, but you want to grow some of your own food, read on.

Hidden Cache:  Essential for gardening- dont share your gloves, shoes or trowel.   Have a good pair of gloves (leather or plastic dipped kind) a good trowel and gardening shoes hidden away so  your children or husband cannot get them.  If your kids are like mine, they will borrow them for "just a minute" and then your gloves will be left out in the rain, your trowel will be buried in the sandbox and you will waste the little time you have hunting them down when you could be out in the garden.

Call in reinforcements:  When there is a big job, like turning over soil or pulling a mass of weeds, get help from those people you feed and clothe.  Boys love whacking at things with hoes, and husbands can give an hour to do the jobs that would take you and your wimpy arms twice as long.  You can do the planning, the planting, the picking, but for back breaking tasks, there is strength in numbers.

Dont waste your time on difficult plants:  I did squash last year.  Actually we did 3 kinds of squash and pumpkins.  We got some veggies, but eventually squash beetles got them all.  Guess what?  This year I didn't plant ANY squash.  I may never plant it again.  The way to get rid of squash beetles is to lay down on the ground and look for their holes in the stem and then slit open the stem to get them out.  Did you see how many steps that was?  and you have to do it EVERY DAY.   On top of that, my kids dont really like squash and they take up a lot of room in the garden.  So this year I planted lots of beans.  Beans are easy.  Beans are cheap.  Beans can freeze just great (You can can them too, but I dont like canned veggies)  Beans dont have many predators. 

OK, my 5 minutes are up.  If it wasnt so hot, I would go out to the garden now :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gathering my Thoughts

Elizabeth Foss has been one of my favorite blog authors since I started reading blogs.  Her voice has helped me in my growing into my vocation of motherhood.  In honor of her honesty and faith, I am doing a "Gathering My Thoughts"  post today.

:: outside my window
It is summer, but not the sticky oppressive summer.  The breezy warm, stay on the porch and drink sweet tea kind of summer.  After a long winter, it is feels like riches.

:: listening to
Silence.  Big kids are at grandmas.  Baby is asleep.  This is my productive time.  All 45 minutes of it.

:: clothing myself in
Capris and a sleeveless top.  My oldest has been growing through lots of clothes lately and gets sentimental when I pronounce something too small.  When he saw my capri pants today he told me I was growing out of them.  :) 

:: talking with my children about these books
Little Women-  My oldest and I are reading it together this summer.  He asked me the other day "Beth is going to get better, right?"  I channeled my inner Marmee and said, "You'll see."  My middle one looked ahead and saw in the pictures that someone gets married and decided it must be Beth, so he pronounced that it would all work out.  We may have some tears shed before this is over
Ramona books-  My favorite childrens book series of all time.  I see why I loved these so dearly as a child.  She really communicates the inner world of a child so clearly.  The plot lines are so very mundane, but the rich characterization and internal dialogue make you feel like the world has shifted.  Which, of course, it has for an 8 year old.  Very satisfying reading.

:: thinking and thinking
About Saints Peter and Paul.  This podcast got me thinking about how very different these two men were and yet how God used each one mightily and even brought them together in unity.  It gives me hope for the church.  God can work in very diverse people that don't always even like each other. There is hope for me.

Ok, my 5 minutes are up.  I need go capitalize on what remains of baby rest time.

Monday, July 7, 2014

teaching me everyday

God gave me very different children.  I guess we can all say that.  The gifts of one are the struggles of another and vice versa.  They are each beautiful, radiant with joy which helps me think I am doing something right. . . so far. 

Having children with different needs, different strengths, different challenges pushes me to think creatively and react with empathy.  Sometimes I get frustrated, wonder how I am repeating something we have discussed dozens of times.  On the bad days, I am just breathing deep and moving on to the next thing.  On good days, I remember how I still knit so poorly after years of doing it.  I think about how some things just dont interest me at all and I have to listen patiently when someone else gushes about those topics. 

I am learning still. And my children are my teachers.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

get to bed

this is the time of night when its all we can do to get our kids in bed and all of us still speak nicely to each other.  when it comes to cleaning their room and getting dressed, they are like the dog who bolts whenever it sees a squirrel.  suddenly everything becomes really interesting and important.  the catalog that arrived three days ago, the car driving down the street, plans for tomorrow are all distractions that pull them away from the task at hand.  getting dressed, brushing their teeth, etc.

We started a tradition several years ago that centers us after the hectic, crazy getting to bed frenzy.  We sit together and we each tell about the best part of our day.  At first, we talked about the best and worst parts of our day, but we found that the worst part quickly became a griping session.  So now we end the day with gratitude.  There is always something to be thankful for.  Sometimes after a hard day at the office for Dad, the best part is coming home.  Sometimes after a hard day for mom, the best part is Dad coming home. 

Then we pray.  We sing before the icon corner and remember what is true and real and beautiful. We lay aside the frustrations and burdens of the day.  The hymn we often sing is the oldest hymn outside of the Bible.  I think of generations of mothers, weary from the day of work and child raising, remembering in their deep down souls the glory of God and turning their grumbling hearts to praising hearts.

For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

all of us

In a few weeks, my husband and I will have been together for half our lives.
When we were first married, I remember dreaming of this point.  I loved the idea of living more of our lives as a couple than we ever did apart. And here we are.  We are growing old together.

It is hard to write about my husband, because I lose perspective that we are truly two different people.  We talk so much about so many issues, as mundane as the grocery list and as profound as trinitarian theology (and that is all in one day!)  Our relationship is so good, so strong, I really do take for granted that marriage is work.  A holy, blessed work. 

Today I listened to a talk by Met. Kallistos Ware about the Orthodox marriage ceremony.  It was beautiful picture of mutual submission, celebration and exaltation. 

I dont usually get inspiration from current pop love songs, but I caught one the other day that just brought tears to my eyes.  Buried in the lyrics was a nugget of truth of what marriage truly is.

"I give you all of me and you give me all of you. "

Friday, July 4, 2014

im a small town girl

I spent a good chunk of my life in a city, not a huge city, but a European city where the population is concentrated together more than most American cities.  I got really used to public transportation, beggars, and small little neighborhood shops.

I can confirm that I am definitely not a city girl.

I grew up in a suburb, a neighborhood built for people to sleep and eat in and then go to work 15 or 20 minutes away.  It is a beautiful neighborhood, with tall trees and manicured lawns.  I have so many good memories there and it warms my heart to see my kids playing in the same places I did. 

But my heart isn't really in the suburbs.

I am a small town girl.  I love going down the street and naming who I know (or knew) in each house.  I love that my son took horseback lessons from the mayor and if my water pressure is low, my 3rd grade teachers wife is who I call. 

In a world where we are glued to our cell phones, connect with others virtually, and have such struggles with loneliness, there is a deep joy in the web of love that cradles me in this small town. 

Today we are celebrate this nation, and I also celebrate my hometown.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Im back. . .

This is my stone to throw to the world. . .

I left this blog because I had so many pressing things, i didnt know what to do and this seemed optional.

Over a year later, the list isnt shorter, but the discussion at Melissa's blog has reminded me of all the good fruit I have received from blogs over the years. 

So I am going to try again.  5 minutes, thats all.  Whatever I have on my mind is what will come out.  Well, with some filters. :)

It is a cool day today and i am going to spend as much time outside weeding as I can.  The garden is doing so great this year, but the weeds are growing too.

Notes to myself:
Vacationing in June is way better for the gardener's timeframe.  Everything is in the ground by then but there is not anything needing to be picked yet (except strawberries).

Mulch next year as you are planting.  Digging out weeds in July and laying down newspaper is much harder.  and less effective.

Planning for next year in my head.  We are studying US history.  Thankful that we have so many books already.  Thankful for a good library.  I am figuring out what are the most important books to read.  This is the last year my oldest will be doing the same history as us, so I want to make it a fun, memorable year.

More tomorrow. . .