Adventurous summer ahead…

It appears we have another interesting summer on our hands. So much has happened already, and you can read all the updates here, at our medical fund page. I try to remember to come here and post Handbook entries, but even that hasn’t happened. You can always see those over on Instagram. I keep trying to do them even in the midst of it all; it helps calm and center me, helps me keep my peace.

Finishing off my first Handbook…

I have quite a bit of catching up to do now that the move is finally over, don’t I? I was able to keep sketching a bit but just finally got to paint in the last few days. I also have been playing with a new lettering pen. I wanted to capture the spirit of my old neighbourhood before I left it with this sketch, though the colours of the actual neighbourhood are a bit more subdued. Artistic license! 😉(57/365)

My parents had the funniest little bird sculptures in their front garden. I knew I had to bring their funny little faces and long, long legs to life in a sketch! They still make me giggle just looking at this page. (58/365)

This quote has taken on more meaning for me than I could ever give words to; I also basically sobbed through the entire second half of the audio book version a few weeks back. I don’t recommend listening to it while driving. 😉 It is fitting this one lands here during Holy Week, on Holy Wednesday, the Feast and Sacrament of Holy Unction. (59/365)

I keep playing with cloudscapes. The 365 practice definitely keeps me stretching. Loved how the sky turned out; could have passed on the landscape. Practice, practice. (60/365)

I didn’t plan it this way, but the quotes are lining up so neatly with Holy Week. On Good Friday, in the dark, we look forward to the Hope. (61/365)

These birds keep showing up. (62/365)

If you remember my little girl dreaming of spring from a few weeks back- she has discovered that it has sprung! (63/365)

I remember when I sketched this; it had been so frigidly winter cold and then one day it was finally warm. I remember standing outside and just basking in the warmth, like a cat. (64/365)

I sketched this the day we found out we were moving; a little country house down a country road from the echoes of my memory. (65/365)

I’ve finished my first full Handbook; 65 little 5 x 5 paintings. I had no idea where this little #365daysofpaint project was going to take me. It’s been such a delight and an eye-opening experience. I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.

Lean into the beautiful now…

It has been forever, dear ones. I know. I was so in the thick of living it that I couldn’t pause here to tell you all about it, but as it is all coming to a close now, I can slip in here quietly with my tea and fill you in on all the news.

Where do I begin?

Ellianna passed her sixth birthday, as healthy as her new healthy can be. It was a strange feeling, to be honest. So many February days past have been filled with hospitalizations and stress and illness. I do think we finally got to the bottom of all that troubled her, God willing. The cycle of her illness has evened out and almost disappeared (if you didn’t know where to look)- meaning that we finally, finally found the sweet spot with her treatments and diet. Glory to God!

Josiah, too, continues to heal. They stepped back some of his medication, to evaluate if some nerves have started firing, and so far, so good. We won’t know for sure until his next colonoscopy (when they replace his c-tube), but we are all curious to see. He may or may not have to have surgery this summer; he’s reaching an age where they may be able to replace his tube without putting him under, but as he also needs to have some exploratory surgery for some other things, they will probably do it all together all at once. All that aside, we have definitely reached a new season with them both, a normal, an expected path; they will always have these chronic life-long incurable illnesses, but their illnesses no longer define them or us in such a profound way as they have these last few years.

The real news, however, and the reason that everything suddenly got so quiet- was some really tremendous changes for us all. James found a much better job back in our home state of Tennessee, rather unexpectedly. Given the children’s medical needs/insurance (we can’t be without it!) there could be no downtime between the two jobs, and we had to move in basically a week. Not only did we manage to do it, we actually had space left in the truck! Four years in pursuit of minimalism definitely paid off. It was a wonderful feeling, and it was a blessing that we could move so quickly because of it.

For the first time in the history of our marriage and family, we split up for an extended period of time, which felt very strange. Some of our children still had things going on in Virginia; some doctors appointments, some birthday trips (Swan Lake! The Symphony!) gifted by the grandparents before we knew of James’ job, some music lessons…and of course, closing up our house here and preparing it for inspection. A few kids here, a few kids there, and mom and dad in different states. It went well, but I’m glad we won’t have to do that again any time soon!

Homeschooling and my 365 painting practice definitely took a back seat this last month. The kids did continue in some of their schooling on their own; we grabbed these unschooling journals for a bit of fun and a change (while still giving a bit of structure- a must in our family), and they were a big hit. I was able to sketch and paint in some small snatches, but not at all in the way I expected to. I somewhat foolishly told my friend whose commission I am working on that I thought once the bigger part of the move was over I would have plenty of time to paint and finish before the month was up; he (far wiser than I) knew better and told me not to worry and return to it when the time was ripe. So that’s on deck in the next few days and weeks- such adventures!

Ah, there is the other news: a beautiful, wonderful, far reaching commission, with a fellow artist halfway around the world; one of the serendipities that could only have happened in the universe’s own timing. It is so exciting and so life-giving, but I can tell you absolutely nothing about it! HA. All in good time.

As I’m writing, I keep thinking of my dear friend who faces some incredibly difficult medical challenges; we spent a long afternoon over coffee recently comparing notes about what life is like with chronic illness. It’s a very lonely path to walk some days, whether you are the patient or the caregiver. It’s hard for many to understand the challenges. But as we were talking, she said- all I can do is live now, in this moment. Her words have stuck with me, and have become somewhat a whispered mantra: lean into the beautiful now. Give me eyes to see and to rejoice in the place where my feet are set.

Handbook Feb 21-27

Feb 21: I spotted Elliana laying on the sidewalk watching some ants today. It made me wonder what she was thinking, imagining this whole jungle of thoughts blooming behind her…which immediately made me think of the Anne quote. (52/365)

Feb 23: Preaching to my own heart. (53/365)

Feb 24: Who else was completely entranced by the Trappist-1 discovery yesterday? (54/365)

Feb 27:  I may have gotten a wee bit sidetracked this weekend…whoops. Lenten roses (hellebores) seemed appropriate today. As Lent begins, I ask forgiveness for any hurt or slight I may have caused this last year. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. (55/365) 

Handbook Feb.13-20

Feb 13:  I apparently have a thing for Wendell Berry lately, too.  There are worse addictions.(44/365)

Feb 14: Unapologetically schmoopy today. (45/365)

Feb 15:  I”blame” @mrs.amanda.c for this one. She was talking in her Stories about the dreary gray weather they’d been having and how she was going to soak in the rare sunshine today, and I swear the whole sketch came right to life in my head. ‘Dreaming of Spring’…See the little sprigs of green in the snow, and the robin returning?  (46/365)

Feb 16: This quote…sheesh…One of the hardest things to do in this life. I had a lot of chances to test my skill at it this weekend and failed miserably. Thank goodness each day is new! (47/365)

Feb 17: Sometimes you don’t know what to say. So you paint.

Feb 18:  It’s always fascinating where things head. I seem to swing wildly between highly detailed and evocative landscapes to very simple straight line, flat illustration. This was a house we drove by on a wandering drive on Saturday, but it is very much a sort of Virginia Lee Burton inspired rendition. 49/365

Feb 19:  If there is anything this project teaches me consistently, it is to show up, make mistakes, and then walk away. I always learn something new. But the small size of it keeps me from feeling wasteful. (The bird was driving me nuts, and the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got.) I was listening to the On Being podcast with Maria Popova (Brain Pickings) while doing this one, and her quote about the bridge between cynicism and hope struck right to the crux of why I’m doing this project, wrestling. 50/365

Feb 20: I’m in a suspended waiting space for something, wrestling with time. The answer is right on the horizon and I just. have. to. wait. I’m not good at that. Rilke is talking me off the ledge of doing something stupid in the waiting.  51/365

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