snow day at the museum

DSC_0002DSC_0003DSC_0005DSC_0007DSC_0009DSC_0011DSC_0012DSC_0013DSC_0023DSC_0024DSC_0025DSC_0026DSC_0027DSC_0029DSC_0031DSC_0038DSC_0039DSC_0004DSC_0008DSC_0013 (1)DSC_0020DSC_0028

Last week we did a field trip with a few friends from our homeschool co-op to the Asheville Art museum.  In our co-op art segment we’ve been studying about the Impressionists and our local art museum happened to have some American impressionist art on display, so it dovetailed nicely with our studies.  I dropped Wren off with my mom for the morning knowing that it would probably not be fun for her to be quiet, listen, and not be able to touch all of the art displays.  The snow was falling heavily all day, which meant a lot of the roads were quiet as people stayed home.  It also made for a really cozy time to visit the museum.  We did an hour guided tour focused on the impressionists, then the children had an hour of studio time.  The guide taught us how to do block printing, and the kids really enjoyed designing a cityscape much like we were seeing out of the museum windows.  Each child designed a building and then made prints of it onto their paper.  They also had the option to switch buildings with someone else and it was really fun to see everyone’s various creations.  After our fun morning, the kids were eager to get out in the accumulating snow once back home, building snow men and sledding.  I’m thankful for every bit of snow we’ve had this winter!  Although it makes for a lot of muddy drippy mess at my door, it is usually short-lived and makes a new playground out of our yard.

Meanwhile, we’ve still been at it with the puzzles.  Yes, I am completely inspired by (copying?) Ginny of Small Things with the puzzle craze.  The first one pictured I mainly worked on myself as the pieces were quite small and it was very challenging.  It was really fun but I think frustrating for the kids who couldn’t really help much with it.  So I got this set of 12 mini puzzles and put each puzzle in a little bag as a fun thing to pull out for the younger children while the older two are busy with school.  Philippa and Noah have been especially into them.  I also got the 300-piece puzzle of the sea planes with the kiddos in mind and we put it together super quickly.  It is one they can do on their own which they love.  I think I’m enjoying these puzzles so much because the scenes in them are so beautiful.  I want to visit and live in each one.

yarn along

DSC_0146.jpg

I cast on the Antarktis shawl for my mom in Fibre Co. yarn meadow, color way Bergamot. Ive wanted to knit with this yarn since seeing Ginny Sheller’s shawl last year, and my mom happened to pick the same pattern, so that is fun!  It’s my second time knitting this pattern and its fun to see how much I’ve grown in my knitting since the last year.  I’m really enjoying this knit and the yarn is just perfection.  Super soft and airy, yet rustic.

I finished From Good to Grace last week and loved it to the very end.  Its one of those that feels like it was written just for me.  This one, Mere Motherhood, is deeply engrossing.  I have a hard time putting it down when I do find a few minutes to read before bed.  She’s a bit rougher around the edges than I expected, and I’m curious to see where the book goes.  I love memoirs.  The kids and I have done something similar to her “morning time” in the past and I’m curious to implement something a bit more in-depth this next school year.

What are you reading or making lately?

Joining up with Nicole of Frontier Dreams’ weekly Crafting On.
Affiliate links included.

this cup

DSC_0020DSC_0026DSC_0028DSC_0033DSC_0035DSC_0045DSC_0075DSC_0065DSC_0015DSC_0010DSC_0009DSC_0010 (1)DSC_0011DSC_0012DSC_0022 (1)DSC_0036DSC_0038DSC_0041DSC_0002 (1)DSC_000818954969_10155189840537605_1021681662419971881_oDSC_0015 (1)DSC_0022DSC_0025DSC_0031DSC_0032DSC_0046

Well, we are starting to feel like summer is here.  Last Friday we celebrated our last day of school for Phoebe’s kindergarten year.  I still want to continue reading and writing work with her over the summer to keep things fresh, but really, our homeschool co-op starts up again in August so we only have a few weeks (!!!) before we’re back in the swing of things again.  I think both of us need to feel like we finished before we start up again.  I need time to plan for the next year, order books and resources, make a calendar of sorts and have a plan in motion.  There’s a big homeschool book sale here this weekend so I’ll be pulling together my list in the next couple of days in preparation for that but I know I will need some time to plan out the next year as well.  Beginning “first grade” feels a bit more serious than kindergarten!  There are so many directions we could go in, and I feel that pull as a homeschooler to try to do everything and go in a hundred directions, but I know I need some time to seek the Lord and His plan for us for the next year.  There is a lot of freedom in homeschooling and so many worthy approaches that its almost overwhelming for me, someone who likes to be told the rules so that I can follow them!  Its a good challenge for me to stay small, simple, focused, and dependent on God’s leading.

Phoebe has been listening to audio books constantly on the little music player in the sunroom, coloring and having tea and flying through the Little House series.  She’s relistening to the Penderwicks book because I haven’t checked out the next one from the library yet.  Her last day of school she cried a bit, saying reading is just so hard for her.  She failed her eye exam at her recent physical and she goes to see an eye doctor next week to see if she needs glasses, which may explain why she gets super tired/frustrated when we work on reading.  She loves books and being read to, and she is starting to read everything she can around her, but she says it is her least favorite subject.  Who knows, I’m not too worried about it because she has been a book lover since she was 6 months old.  I do want to cultivate her continued love of it though and not frustrate her.

We celebrated our end-of-year with a yummy skillet chocolate chip cookie and a batch of coconut ice cream, and we all cheered as a family for the way each of us worked hard this year to make school happen.  Noah and Philippa were huge helpers to me, doing their best to stay out of the way while we did work, and a really close friendship developed between them as a result.  I plan to have more activities ready next year for them to engage in so that they can be included if they want to be.  Brandon supports me hugely, encourages me when I feel like I’m not doing enough, and helps out sometimes in the evenings with Phoebe’s work.  He and I both get excited thinking about him taking on some schooling in the future, too–teaching skills, doing field trips with the kids, or helping by reading or listening to Phoebe read books.  Homeschooling really is a family venture!

Summery things are blooming in the yard, butterfly bush and the last of the poppies, and our little garden is starting to produce.  A robin family built their nest in the tree by our porch so we’ve had fun peeking at the little blue eggs.  We have a huge rosemary bush by our mailbox so I’ve begun drying clippings from it to store up for the winter, which makes Phoebe extra happy since “it is just what Ma would do,” she says.  So we enjoy these little things, the markers of time passing, the liturgy of the ordinary, small shifts and small moments.  Life.

I’m knitting away as usual, and trying to squeeze in reading always.  I’m working on a hat for a loved one.  I have some “homeschool mom enrichment” books to read this summer, as I’m calling them.  A few things I want to refresh on as I look ahead and plan.  I have been wanting to read this book, Mere Motherhood, for a long time, and I’m excited to dig into it.  I plan to review The Well-Trained Mind again, as well as Teaching From Rest.  I hope to also read A Charlotte Mason Companion.  There are so many other good ones out there, but a few is probably all I will realistically accomplish.

It’s my birthday today and it’s been mostly a usual sort of Wednesday.  When you’re a momma with little ones underfoot, there isn’t much of a break from the daily tasks.  Spills and messes still happen, children squabble and need parenting, dishes and laundry pile, meals must still be made.  I really don’t mind, though.  I’m happy right here.  I mean, I’ll take a stack of books, a long bath, some knitting time, and a good long run on a mountain ridge any day, don’t get me wrong!  I’m learning to lean into the fray a bit more instead of just trying to survive it until the break comes.  I realized last night and this morning that I kept humming Sara Groves song This Cup.

How many hours have I spent
Watching this shining tv
Living adventure in proxy
In another person’s dream
How many miles have I traveled
Looking at far away lights
Listening for trains in the distance
In some brilliant other life?

This cup, this cup
I wanna drink it up
To be right here in the middle of it
Right here, right here
This challenging reality
Is better than fear or fantasy

So take up what we’ve been given
Welcome the edge of our days
Hemmed in by sunrise and sunset
By our youth and by our age
Thank God for our dependence
Here’s to our chasm of need
And how it binds us together
In faith and vulnerability

This cup, this cup
I wanna drink it up
To be right here in the middle of it
Right here, right here
This challenging reality
Is better than fear or fantasy

What if my whole world falls apart?
What if my life could be different?
What if I sat right here and took you in
Without the fear and loved you whole
Without the flight and didn’t try to pass

This cup, this cup
I wanna drink it up
To be right here in the middle of it
Right here, right here
This beautiful reality
Is better than fear or fantasy
Is better than fear or fantasy
Is better than fear or fantasy

We’re all hemmed in by sunrise and sunset, our days all have edges, our life is limited by bounds.  Another year passes, another year comes.  We can fight our limitations, grumble about our reality or surrender to what God has given us and say, this cup I will drink.  To be present, right here in the middle of this moment–that’s what I want.

apple pie tree

dsc_0015dsc_0014-1dsc_0016dsc_0017dsc_0018dsc_0019dsc_0021dsc_0023dsc_0024dsc_0026-2dsc_0027-1dsc_0028-1dsc_0029-1dsc_0030dsc_0031-1dsc_0032dsc_0033dsc_0034dsc_0037dsc_0038-1dsc_0040dsc_0041dsc_0046dsc_0049dsc_0051dsc_0058dsc_0063dsc_0064dsc_0069-1dsc_0070dsc_0071dsc_0073

Every fall we make a trip to a local apple orchard.  It was busier this year than ever before, a hustle of bustle, so maybe next year we will hunt for someplace more obscure.  The introvert in me was a bit bewildered.  I barely pulled myself together to get out the door that morning, having had a night of insomnia and only a few hours sleep.  But my sweet nephew E was in town, and I wanted to take him and my kids to do something fun, so we pulled ourselves together.  No pretty outfits and not much fanfare, but I did manage to grab a library book we had called “Apple Pie Tree” and coloring sheets/crayons.  Why not squeeze in a bit of school (said every homeschooling mom ever)?

The kids hunted for apples, we sat in a quiet place between rows of trees after picking  a few and learned about the parts of an apple.  We looked around for a few more apples, only picking enough for the children to be able to carry.  I have no hopes of canning up applesauce as I have done in years past.  We explored the orchard, visiting the ducks and sheep and goats, the peacocks and playgrounds.  Rainey treated them to a tractor hayride, which was the delight of all.  Then we spread out our blanket again and had a picnic before heading home.  I read to them from our apple tree book, and as always, little munchers are rapt listeners.  After we were home and children were resting/napping, I peeled and cored and sliced and made a gluten-free apple pie using the recipe from the back of the library book.  Simple ingredients and a heavenly smell.

You can read about our visit to the apple orchard with friends last year here.

grateful

DSC_0057DSC_0009DSC_0010DSC_0012DSC_0015DSC_0029 (1)DSC_0003DSC_0031 (1)DSC_0030DSC_0021DSC_0002DSC_0004DSC_0049DSC_0006DSC_0008DSC_0009 (1)DSC_0010 (1)DSC_0053DSC_0030 (1)DSC_0038DSC_0041DSC_0050DSC_0055

So it’s Friday and our week has been b u s y, tumultuous, happy, and emotional.  We look forward to our Friday ritual tonight of homemade (gluten-free) pizzas and a movie of the kid’s choosing.  We look forward to a weekend, to rest and worship.  We give thanks.

Phoebe began her homeschool co-op on Monday, and so we began our own schooling this week as well.  It has been really good and really awkward at times, too, just trying to establish some new rhythms and figure out how navigate these new waters.  There have already been moans and groans, there have been a multitude of interruptions from two little ones underfoot.  There have been potty accidents as Philippa slowly attempts potty training.  Phoebe and I are both loving it, though, and my heart is filled with thanks!  We have had time to cover a lot of material this week, but also play soccer, ride bikes, play outside, go to the pool, run our usual errands, snuggle together and read, begin a nature journal, press flowers, bake and cook.  Schoolwork is sprinkled throughout, and informal learning is emphasized as much as more formal schooling.  The younger two kids usually join us for the beginning of our morning work, doing their own little puzzles or coloring worksheets, before scattering off to play.  What a privilege and a blessing that we get to do it this way!  I don’t want to take it for granted for a second.  This is high and holy work!

Phoebe had a bad bike accident on Wednesday around lunch time, all of us cruising back home on our bikes after playing “soccer” at a nearby field.  She lost control of her bike and I watched in horror as her bike went down and she slammed her face into the pavement.  I grabbed her and saw her front teeth all bent back toward her throat, her mouth bleeding profusely, and we jumped immediately in the van and headed to urgent care.  After a thorough check and a visit to her dentist, we breathed great thanks to a faithful God who protected her from serious injury!  She will loose her front three teeth soon as a result, and she is bruised and scraped, but for the most part is already carrying on in her usual activities.

This morning she had her year check-up after receiving her diagnosis of Celiac disease last July.  She has gained three pounds in the last three months, which is HUGE for our little tiny girl.  She has gained almost 10 pounds in the past year!  Her BMI has increased, and she is in the 20th percentile for weight, which is a first!  We are full of praise once again to our God who has helped us all the way, and who continues to lead us as we seek Phoebe’s health and full recovery.

In all the muddled ordinary of life, it is easy for me to adopt a complaining or entitled heart.  It is easy, natural even, for me to miss the moments of extravagant grace hidden in these everyday moments, even the ugly ones.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:18)

I don’t want to give in to what is natural, I want a supernatural life, something that can’t be explained apart from the grace of God.  I desire for Him to do this kind of work in me.  I want my children to see their mother pursuing deep roots in Jesus, to see their mother turning her heart back to praise, to see their mother making time for creativity, reflection, truth, and beauty.

Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal arrived on my doorstep this week, a beautiful summons to slow down, to return to the simple yet profound act of giving thanks.  It couldn’t have been more timely, after the sort of week we’ve had, brim-full with opportunity to worry, complain, grumble, and give in to exhaustion.  I’m excited to dig into this new-to-me format of coloring, of slowing, of turning my mind and heart to thanks, of lingering over scripture and meditating on the simple and profound healing balm.  This journal is absolutely stunning, sturdy, quality pages, simple yet arresting designs, bringing scripture to life and giving it feet.  I pray that for me it is just one simple tool that helps me keep my eyes fixed on Jesus as I go through each day’s work.  Maybe it would be a helpful tool to you, too?  If so, this little journal releases in just a few days (Sept. 1).

*

This post contains affiliate links.  

Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for a complimentary copy of this beautiful journal in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

first day of kindergarten

DSC_0024DSC_0029 (1)DSC_0010DSC_0032DSC_0035DSC_0051

Because beginnings are special, especially this kind.  I’m so thankful I’m not having to say goodbye to my Phoebe girl for the day, but instead get to sit alongside her and begin this journey together.  I feel all sorts of nervous, overwhelmed, unable, and uncertain — but I am confident of this one thing: my God goes before me.  He is able.  He has a perfect plan.  He will lead me and my children every step of the way.  We begin in obedience to Him and we look in faith to Him for all the equipping, strength, joy and confidence we need.

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

(Philippians 1:6)

evening walks

DSC_0323 DSC_0326 DSC_0334DSC_0342 DSC_0340 DSC_0344 DSC_0350 DSC_0351 DSC_0357 DSC_0359 DSC_0354 DSC_0352 DSC_0364 DSC_0382 DSC_0360

So this weekend last year I believe was the weekend we moved into this home + this side of town.  There’s something about being in a place for a year.  Seeing it in all its seasons.  There’s something about growing up and changing in a place that seems to mostly stay the same.  We live on the backside of a retreat center, in the residential section.  It’s sort of an odd arrangement but we love living in a little hidden cove of quiet in the city.  It was our first summer experiencing this place with campers coming and going every week, our usual walks interrupted with camp activity and hustle.  Now kids are back in school, camps close up for the off season, and we are back to our evening walks all over the deserted retreat campus.  The little ones love visiting the lake and “fishing,” looking for the moon and watching the bats in the evening sky darting back and forth.  My heart felt full and melancholy at the same time.  Seasons come and seasons go.

I was talking with a couple momma friends earlier in the day yesterday about how we feel that nagging sense of being behind sometimes, always behind.  In a culture that is always pressing ahead to the “next thing” and the “next stage” it can be awfully hard and terribly counter-cultural to just slow and linger where you are.  My daughter will be 5 in December and we’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to start preschool with her this year.  But if I’m honest, the only real reason I’m feeling that niggling worry is because I don’t want her to be behind and because so many of her peers are already in school.  The reality is, she’s my first.  She’s my oldest.  And this is probably the last year we will ever have like this, just us at home, days full of errands, play dates, adventures outside, books piled high, dress-up and coloring and cookie baking in the middle of the day.  Once she starts school, even homeschool, our minds and schedules will begin to revolve around school.  Our freedoms will change a bit, our family dynamic will change.  So, as eager as I am to dig into school and embrace that new season ahead, I’ve decided to just linger over this little season right here, with my three little ones at home and the sweet freedom of unscheduled learning.  My plan is simple: read a lot, play outside a lot.  Probably my number one goal “educationally” this year is to increase and stimulate wonder over their world.  To give them a lot of time and attention, play and surprise.  To excite them about learning.  To learn as we go, but not to worry about it or stress over it.  I don’t think “my” way is better than anyone else’s.  I’m so thankful for the freedom we have in our own families to choose what works best for our own family dynamic.  I’ve thought over these words many times in the past few weeks, taken from Jean Fleming’s book A Mother’s Heart:

Now is the time to get things done. . .
wade in the water,
sit in the sun,
squish my toes
in the mud by the door,
explore the world in a boy just four.

Now is the time to study books,
flowers,
snails,
how a cloud looks;
to ponder “up,”
where God sleeps nights,
why mosquitoes take such big bites.

Later there’ll be time
to sew and clean,
paint the hall
that soft new green,
to make new drapes,
refinish the floor–
Later on. . .when he’s not just four.

Irene Foster, “Time is of the Essence”