a summer rhythm

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We have finished up another year of school and it feels so good to do so!  Last week was our first full week off.  I found myself both happy with the wide open free schedule and also feeling a bit odd/paralyzed without our usual rhythms to ground the day.  I mean, there are some structures that remain in place, of course, like quiet times after lunch, morning and evening devotional time and such.  Last summer I remember hoping to do a lot of reading and hiking in the summer, yet finding that it got sort of choked out as we weren’t super intentional about it.  So I came up with a little loose and easy summer plan, because that’s about all I can handle.  Something very simple, flexible, and attainable, with the goal of providing space and motivation to do those summer things we don’t want to miss out on.  (If you follow me on instagram you’ve seen me sharing a snippet of our daily rhythm in my stories for the last week.)

It all just sort of came to me the other day, so I wrote down the few major things I want to accomplish each week with the kiddos, the things I hope to emphasize this summer.  I’m trying it out and the children are loving it so far.  The part of me that likes to just have the freedom to do whatever we feel like each day is revolting just a tiny bit, but at the same time, I know we can toss the schedule out of the window when we need to.  (Like this week, when we are busy prepping and packing for a sort of big trip coming up this weekend.)

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share my little idea/venture here with you in case anyone else would be helped by it, or spurred on to try your own little summer rhythm.  On weekday mornings we have been having “morning time” after breakfast, where we do some bible reading, singing, and catechism questions.  I’ve put together little simple binders for each of the children to compile the hymns we are learning (one a month), and anything else we are memorizing or using during this time.  After morning time is over, we are implementing our “morning focus,” each day centered around one theme.  After lunch it is quiet time for the older kids and nap time for the younger two, and the rest of the afternoon is generally free play time, because I firmly believe children need hours of open play/free time daily without the management of their every minute by an adult.

Sunday: worship + rest

This is pretty self-explanatory, but this day is devoted to worshipping with our church family and spending the rest of the day resting.  Rest could look like getting outside for a hike, or it could look like being lazy at home.  Whatever is needed.  For me, it usually means leaving the laundry unfolded and trying to minimize my time in the kitchen, while giving myself permission to take extra time to knit, read, nap, or get outside.

Monday: tend to home

Mondays are days my mind is usually busy with catching up on housework, bills, and such, after taking a rest day on Sunday.  I’d like to pull the kids into helping more with house work/chores and help us all to remember that tending to our home helps to ground us and gives us a nice place to come home to after our fun outings.  Part of life is setting aside a little bit of time to care for what has been entrusted to us, and I think making this our morning goal on Monday helps me feel more free mentally to do other activities during the week.

Tuesday: read

During this time, we just loaf around and enjoy either independent reading time with some music playing, or I will read to the children.

Wednesday: create

Making time for art, hand crafts, baking — these are things that so easily get choked out of our week during the school year because schoolwork and household chores take longer than expected.  Setting aside a morning devoted to the theme of MAKING something together is really freeing for me, to feel like we have time and room to do so.  The kids absolutely love when I pull out paints, or invite them to bake cookies with me.  I plan to do a fun little “knitting class,” embroidery, writing haiku, or woodworking project with them, too.  (I have really enjoyed using this book as a help for seasonal craft ideas to do together that are simple, like leaf pressing, rolling candles, etc.)  Also, just letting them tell me how they’d like to be creative.  I think it’s important to stir up all of our creative juices over the summer!

Thursday: serve

During this day we look for ways to serve one another and hopefully also serve our neighbors or community in some way.  This one requires a bit more forethought and planning for me potentially, and pushes us all a bit out of our comfort zone.  Last week we took cookies to a neighbor, recently we did a neighborhood road clean-up, and we’ll see what other little ways we can find to serve those around us and reach outside of our home a bit.  Maybe we’ll deliver vegetables and flowers from our garden to neighbors, take a meal to someone in need, or offer to help a neighbor with a yard work project.

Friday: explore + play

I for sure want to make hiking, river splashing, or pool time a weekly event at minimum this summer, so this day is for those sorts of adventures.  Of course, if the weather is better for a hike on a day other than Friday we can just switch things around.

Saturday: connect

We often do house projects, yard work, grocery shopping and errands on Saturday, but I’m hoping we can remember that Saturdays are a really good day to connect all together since Daddy is home for the day usually.  So our aim is to do something that day to connect even in the midst of the work we also need to accomplish, whether its play a game together, picnic, walk, ride bikes, hike, visit the farmers market, etc.

So, we are trying it out and doing it without a lot of pressure or guilt.  I’m hoping it helps give us room to squeeze in all the fun things we want to do this summer.  It has been helpful so far!  Do share any fun ideas you may have or ways you’re trying to be intentional this summer to enjoy time together and make time for the things that matter to your family.  And if you’re thinking of trying out something similar, let me know how it goes!

keeping rhythm

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Only two weeks now until we say goodbye to this little house and move on out.  We have been spending the last number of weekends packing in big spurts, then trying to keep life going normally during the week.  We packed the books on Saturday and our home feels a bit colorless and empty without them.  There is so much to do, as anyone who has ever packed and moved knows well.  But in the middle of it, life goes on, and I try to keep some semblance of normalcy going.  Our daily and weekly work–cooking, schooling, reading, cleaning, outside play, trips to the library and grocery store, knitting for me in the evenings after the kids are in bed.

Thus, my random smattering of photos.  The children spread out on the floor watching movies.  Finding Philippa after nap time on top of her bookcase, having colored all over her hands and dress in colors that actually coordinated her dress.  Kombucha batches brewing on the counter, catching the afternoon light.  Children playing and snuggling and reading books on my bed.  Little random moments that make my heart happy and light and keep me grounded.

I feel that I can share with you now that we are under contract on a home, but won’t close until the end of March.  We are excited but also trying to keep our emotions in check until everything goes through.  It has been such an up and down journey, certainly not what we ever would have expected.  Since we have about a month of limbo between this home and our new home, a sweet friend has offered for us to live in their new home in the meantime.  We will put most of our stuff in storage and live fairly minimally during our time there, so I’m not sure how diligently I will be blogging.  Be praying if you think of it for the children, that they handle this transition well.  I think they are mostly excited and will be resilient in the midst of it, and I’m guessing it will throw Philippa off the most, as she has only lived in this home and has a strong love for being home, not usually sleeping well anywhere else.  I’m hoping by keeping some of our family rhythms going, we can provide a sense of consistency.

All this upheaval and change in the midst of our ongoing battle for Phoebe’s health and the uncertain future ahead has me so thankful that we make our home in God alone, wherever we are wandering on this earth.  He is our home, He is our security.  He is our constant in a wild storm.  There really can be peace in the midst of the tumult.  Why do I forget this every time?  Sometimes every day?  I am thankful also for that sense that wherever Brandon is, wherever my children are, that is where home is for me.  What kind of walls hold us and who owns them doesn’t matter too terribly much.  Trials of any sort always pare life down to the basics, the simple and small things that matter most.

In Him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)

Rhythms

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In our photo-saturated day, taking pictures can get a bad rap.  “Be present,” they urge.  “Put down your camera and enjoy this moment.”  And there are times to leave the camera behind.  Times to rest and just soak and to see.  But I have learned that for me, snapping pictures helps me see.  Helps me notice.  Like a glory-hunter, seeking the beauty in the dreary and ordinary.  Going out with my camera, with expectation to find gifts.  I learned this some time ago from Ann Voskamp, how she numbered gifts with her camera, framing the moments.  Every frame captures a moment, a mili-second of time never to be repeated.  The way after breakfast, they clamber up onto the couch to read books.  On tiptoes at the window to see the garbage truck on Thursday mornings.  The simple beauty of flour, butter, water, and yeast bubbling in a bowl.  The way they run to help whenever they see me drag the stool into the kitchen.  That little gap between his front teeth.  The girl on her trike, far too small for her now, but still her favorite.  The way she turns to see if I am watching.  Always looking to see if I see her.  I do, baby girl, I see you.  The scraggly wild berries and flowers growing alongside the riverbank.  Ordinary, common.  Beautiful.  Hot steaming loaves pulled from the oven, and the way that nothing smells as good as fresh bread at home after wind whipped cheeks and frozen fingers.

Rhythms.  Rhythms of these days.  Simple.  Small.  Barely noticeable.  Easily forgotten.  I don’t want to miss it.  I don’t want to forget.  I want to give thanks, capture the moments, hands full of memories and moments to hold out to Him and praise Him for.  I love this season, I love these rhythms, Lord.  Costly.  Often painful.  Sometimes downright boring.  But precious.  Worthy.  Heavy with the weight of glory.