• daybook

    Saturday wanders…

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    We really try to ‘get out of town’ on Saturday mornings. Of course, that’s a bit of a misnomer living in such a large, urban area, but we try to get into nature each week. We are blessed to have quite a few parks and preserves near us to choose from. Most of them are far enough from the road that you can almost imagine you’ve truly escaped to rural climes. There’s not anything particularly planned about it except for tucking a picnic lunch in as we leave- the locations are rarely chosen until we’re already on the road, based on how everyone is feeling and what we want from the day. I hadn’t really realized how much we made a tradition of it until this last weekend, or how much we need this weekly break. By the time you’re reading this today we will have launched into another week that is back to back doctors appointments. These weeks seem to happen about every four to six weeks and they are particularly brutal. Most of the time we don’t know the nature of the appointments, usually rechecks and labs and the like, following progress on a particular thing. This week is different. We know test results will be delivered. We know most of them won’t be good. It’s hard. And we knew this as we left for our usual wander.

    When we get where we’re going, the children usually play on the playgrounds for a while until they are hungry. James and I get a chance to sit and talk while we sip our coffee. Sometimes we read. Eventually everyone wanders over for lunch and we eat. After that, we head out into the trails and wander.

    It struck me as I watched everyone spread out on Saturday how much we need this reset: how much I need the reset. There was a particular little star like bush, all dried and barren, near the trail, so beautiful in its smallness, and I remember just sucking in a really deep breath and thinking, God sees this little star-bush. He made it, he arranged for it, it is He who made it strong and beautiful, even in the smallness of it, and it just brought such tremendous peace to me. I have to see to understand, and this how He teaches me.

    Everyone was a bit squidgy as we headed out. I felt it myself. I saw my star-bush and it was the medicine I needed; and it seemed everyone else, too, found the thing they didn’t know they needed. Ellianna was fussy and clingy headed out- by the time we headed back in, she had calmed and was holding my hand, humming. David and Josiah had bounced off every tree, every fence, every bush, but by the time we left the river, they too, had taken to walking slowly, stopping often to study something in depth, like the fungus growing on a tree branch. It was so needed.

  • beautiful things,  daybook

    Abundance…

    fallpunkin narnia fallwindow mealplan fallleaves groceries indiansummer

    Last week was one of those full, good weeks. More than one kid this week took off on a learning adventure ahead of me, which is pretty amazing. There was a lot of inventing going on, too…just…one of those good weeks when you see the wheels turning and learning being applied, which is always such a gift.

    For all that, I felt rather behind for most of the week, constantly playing catch up. I haven’t really found my groove with home care and meal prep since schooling began in earnest. It is definitely a case of knowing what the general needs and routine are, but not having enough hours in the day. It’s not that we sit at the table all day long, but with six learners and six different interests (and teaching Latin and Physics to my eldest) I find myself often barely finishing up before my husband returns home in the evening. The children and I all have our basic chores that get done everyday, but a lot of the maintenance type chores (mopping, deep cleaning the kitchen, etc.) aren’t getting done- and with eight in our space, those areas show the lack pretty quickly.

    And the groceries- meal planning- ugh. Don’t get me started. I feel like we spend so much time trying to figure out what we can actually have- always feeling a little bit lost- and having such a limited budget- that often, figuring out a meal plan for our family of eight can pretty much bring me near tears if I’m not in the right frame of mind. We had a long discussion on Instagram the other day about it, if you’re interested. There’s quite a group of us in similar situations and it was a deep encouragement that day to know I was not alone.

    Through it all, there is so much beauty to be found. Picking up my husband from work one day, I looked up to find an almost Narnian-like scene under a lamp post…so many beautiful leaves…and the last vestiges of our wildflower plot out front. I etched one of the pumpkins in a quiet hour last Monday. It’s all here…good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.

  • daybook,  the garden arts

    Our morning walks…

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    Our neighborhood is so unusual in this day and age of mini-mansions and planned communities and HOAs. It’s not that it wasn’t a planned community, because it is- it’s just nearly a hundred years old. I have to tell you, I think we lost something in translation between then and now, ’cause I’ll take my neighborhood any day of the week. Within our streets off the main road, children ride their bikes freely from their houses all the way to the school park and back. There are always people walking their pets. Adults on bicycles. Older adults working in their garden or sitting on their porches. And there are trees. Every street is tree-lined with mature oaks and walnuts and crepe mrytles and all sorts of things. Why do modern neighborhoods have no trees?Why does it all have to be clear cut and razed before building? The temperature literally drops about ten degrees when you turn in to the neighborhood in the summer between the trees and the fresh air blowing in off the river. If you can imagine the background pictures of the houses in Sound of Music- that’s the style of houses we have here. It is so, so lovely. I still pinch myself that we get to live here in a veritable Mayberry in the midst of what is a rather hard scrabble urban town.

    And gardeners! Boy howdy, do we have some talented people in this neighborhood. Just about every house has something lovely growing at every season- a veritable feast of beauty. We try to get out and walk almost every morning, and lately I’ve been snapping a few pictures each day. Our neighbor at the corner has an especially lovely garden and things are always changing. It always feels a bit like peeking into the secret garden each day as we lean over the fence to examine the newest flowering thing. All of the children and I have learned more about plants and trees in the three years living here than we have since they were born!

  • daybook

    weaving the threads…

    flowers

    noticing:: the weariness in my soul this Monday morning. Two weeks of on and off sickness moving through my family have taken their toll. I didn’t do self-care well this weekend and it shows.

    listening to:: chopin variations. If there is anything true I know about myself, it is that music is a powerful prescription. It says what my heart cannot, and sings to it when I am weary. It helps me get back to center.

    talking:: about new paths and plans. I haven’t discussed it much here, but my sometime job as a freelancer has steadily picked up over the last year, organically, by word of mouth. Coming to the realization that new spaces and margins need to be made to make room for this gift, and also to protect the margin of my family we’ve fought so hard to achieve.

    thinking:: about friendship, loyalty, and fellowship. About my boys and the men they will become. What it means to live through the thick and thin, the pretty and the ugly, the beautiful and the brutal in community. The skills my children need to build life-long friendships of their own.

    praying:: for my dear friend, Rebekah, who lost her mama last week. The hardest part of it all was being so far away and not being able to walk with her. For the repose of her mother’s soul.  For a friend who received some brutal news last week; for healing.

    cultivating:: seeds of ideas. My word for the year (nourish) has settled into place many of my plans for the year. I’m surprised at how easily I could see my path forward once I put it in the balance of whether it would nourish me and my family. Once it is put in those terms the dreck and the distraction become pretty apparent. I tend towards inspiration overwhelm, but I’ve got very specific ideas about what I’d like to do moving forward and I feel empowered and confident about what I’ve chosen. That’s a very new feeling.

    creating:: more project life pages. Maybe some dresses for the girls this week. Definitely making sure there is space in each day to fill my cup in this area.

    learning:: new things in the work arena. It’s been nice to stretch the brain cells new directions. It feels up the creativity cup in a different way.

    encouraging:: the children in their projects and pursuits. Josiah and I are faithfully making our way through the beginning alphabet and learning our numbers. Isaiah has shifted his math work, and he’s very excited about the change. The older boys are working hard through their Webeleo projects with the additional help of their Grandpa Tom- I hear a pine derby is coming up soon.

    cleaning:: my way through the house. We keep a pretty tight rein on clutter and mess in our house simply due to space constraints, but it never fails to amaze me how much gets squirreled away in our storage areas in a ‘just in case’ sort of way. Every year I get more and more ruthless about what is allowed to live with us. Simple, lovely, functional, or you’re outta here. I estimate if we were to move today we’d move with half of what we moved in with. It’s a good feeling.

    cooking:: that which nourishes. I’ve watched everyone jump whole-heartedly into new diets and ways of eating as January has drawn on. I myself have been on a journey since July of last year towards healthier eating (and it’s showing in weight loss)…but gracious if all the Whole30 this, Paleo that, clean eating hullaballoo isn’t starting to feel a bit crazy to me. I so appreciate Katherine and Tonia, who are ever reminding me that simple and nourishing are all I need. The cooking skills I’ve learned this last year have made that pursuit much simpler- having the skills to make something from scratch (and quickly!) really change the paradigm.

    grateful::

    for life-long friends

    for laughter and Monty Python

    for the people in our lives that parent and mentor us

    for the collective memory of community

    knowing this truth::

    The planet does not nee more ‘successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world more habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.

    -David Orr

    sending:: all my love.