• beautiful things,  celebrations

    Beauty and bedlam…


    Our vacation was so achingly full of beauty it almost felt like drinking from a fire hose. When you live in the mountain country that we used to live in, you take for granted the beauty and nature all around you. Step out the front door and be greeted by sunrises that make you want to cry, hear the whisper of the river. You forget how rare it is. Those aged, smoky mountains worn down to hills will always be a bit of home for us.

    Some of our favorite people in the whole wide world live there, too, and we come home with our cups full of fellowship and laughter with the people that love us wide and deep and true.

    I don’t have to tell you how much it was needed, do I, after this harum scarum year?

    All the same, as beautiful as it was, it was also hard and exhausting by its turns. We knew that taking this vacation was going to be very different than the ones we took before. We knew that the littles’ chronic medical issues would shift the dynamic…I just don’t think we really realized how much. I don’t think James and I realized just how truly depleted and exhausted we had become over this last year. Things that were once simple just aren’t anymore. A wide margin of down time is absolutely necessary now- in some ways the littles’ tire much quicker now then they did when they were younger due to their unique needs, and it means we have to shuffle and adjust in ways that most families normally wouldn’t. We also have to budget our own energy better, and it is perhaps this dynamic that I was least expecting for the trip. It isn’t much wonder that three of us fell ill the day after returning home. Gratefully, James had already planned for us to have ample reboot and recovery time built into the schedule before he returned to work, so it was much less of a difficulty than it normally would be. This, too, is a learning curve.

    For all that, it was so lovely…such a deep, deep gift. I know that we all will carry our time with us through the weeks and months to come, a little bit of peace to tuck in our pockets.

  • celebrations

    So very needed…


    The Finding Home series will return next week. We are taking a much needed camping vacation- the first real vacation we’ve had since we moved. I don’t have to tell you how much we’ve been looking forward to this, do I? I’ll share more about how we do camping with a family of eight and some of our favorite road trip things tomorrow.

  • celebrations,  the learning arts

    Socrates and sunflowers…


    I finished The Spark last week. it’s one of those books that will dwell with me a long time. I’ve had a Sensory Processing Disorder kid for years now, read so many books about how to help him- I can honestly say I understand him so much more now after reading Kristine’s descriptions of Jake. Jake is a high functioning autistic savant, and his intelligence ranking is off the scale- far higher than most savants that have been tested- the kid is literally working on a physics problem that may change the world and earn him a Nobel. Isaiah’s not a savant, and Sensory Processing Disorder is much lower on the spectrum, but there are definitely some similarities.

    It’s her concept of much-ness that I have really taken to heart. She describes in kid after kid (special needs or not) that she really looked for that ‘thing’ that made them tick. She noted that often this was the thing that parents (in her daycare) most often apologized for:

    “I hope you don’t mind if Violet keeps her wings on; she loves butterflies!” But while the parents might have recognized their child’s talent or passion, they didn’t necessarily think of it as a way to connect with him or advance the child’s progress. (p.74)

    In her daycare work, she said this might be making endless batches of dough with a kid who loves the process, and using the dough to roll out the shapes of letters. For a kid that was absolutely obsessed with texture (most spectrum kids are in one way or another), she gave him all sorts of textures to explore and create with- and on and on. She describes making beanbags for one such kid, and filling them with sunflower seeds. Her Jake at the time was still mostly nonverbal, and she returned to find her almost done beanbags ruined because in the interim, Jake has gotten in the kitchen and dumped all the sunflower seeds into cylindrical glass vases. (He’s three years old at the time.) She won’t know till much later that Jake was absolutely dead focused on figuring out the volume of spheres and shapes at the time (high school level geometry). She relates that they just swept it out in the yard.

    The discarded seeds we’d swept out into the year in the fall had taken root- and with a vengeance. To my delight, over the course of that summer, those sunflowers grew to over six feet tall. By August, to get into our backyard, we had to wade through a field of those gigantic flowers, all slowly turning their faces towards the light. (p. 83)


    I thought of that last line a few days back when I watched Isaiah read in a comfy spot on the couch for hours, fully engrossed. He’s eleven. He literally could not read above a kindergarten level for years, and I had people tell me that due to his disorder, he many never be able to read well. This summer, it finally clicked thanks to some young wizards named Ron, Harry, and Hermoine. Way back when, I was also told that he may never walk properly, draw, write, hold a pencil correctly. Even after he proved them wrong on all those points, they swore he’d never be able to ride a bike. He learned last summer. This last Friday, he decided all on his own that he was going to write a book about his Pokemon adventures. He’s had to have a bit of help transcribing when his hands grow tired, but he is writing. For fun. We are having deep, in depth conversations about Socrates and Aristotle, which has made me realize that for all the delays he has in reading and writing, he has been listening and thinking the whole time and all you have to do is get him talking.

    There were years with Isaiah that I wondered if it were all worth it, years of planting seeds that appeared to be discarded, lost, forgotten. And then, a sunflower blooms. And then another, and then another. This is a bumper sunflower year for us, and my heart is so full. Who knows what is next for him? No matter what he faces, we’ll be able to look back on this year and remember that diligent pursuit will always lead somewhere wonderful.

  • celebrations,  Ebenezer

    A big transition…

    We’re here! Today was Daddy’s first day of work at his new job. What a whirlwind move it has been! In-town moves are eventful enough. Cross-state moves are a whole ‘nother breed, especially if you only have three weeks to make it happen. Fhew. vanpackedOne of the ladies from church gave them Easter buckets full of snacks and activities to do in the car. We were packed to the gills! It definitely helped. movingonupThis move would not have happened without our friends and family in both states. I’m not sure which side I feel sorrier for- the group that had to play Tetris with the furniture to get it all in the truck, or the guys who had to carry box after heavy box of books to the third story in the new house. So grateful for everyone who was involved. newhouse Our new house is located in a historic neighborhood. We didn’t really know what this meant at first- the house itself almost seemed too good to be true. The other options in our price range seemed absolutely unbearable- not located in good area or too small or too far from where James worked. When we found this one and had close friends check it out, they were unanimous in their recommendation that we rent it. It’s a beautiful old duplex house built in 1918. It has plaster walls and nooks and crannies- all which have been named already by the children and friends (the Harry Potter closet, the Cinderella room).  And it’s huge. The whole neighborhood brings to mind the Sound of Music set, and has the friendliness to match. It’s full of young families and older couples and so very walkable. We see all sorts of people walking by with their dogs or children. Kids ride their bikes unsupervised around the block. It’s that kind of neighborhood. afterdinnerwalk We’ve already begun a new family tradition- an after dinner walk. We’ll probably add in a morning walk soon. It’s like a veritable treasure hunt. We’ve found a tiny park and a fishing pier behind the elementary school, and half a dozen houses to have fairytale imaginings about. One day we walked the opposite direction and discovered to our delight the village shops- because this neighborhood is one of those historic neighborhoods. It has a bakery and coffee shop, a few restaurants, and perhaps most importantly- a scrap booking shop. I can’t decide if that is a good thing or a very dangerous thing or a bit of both…librarydayFar and away our favoritest favorite favorite part of the neighborhood? The library that we can walk to. Yes, you read that right. For a family that up until this point had to drive thirty to forty five minutes to find a library (a family of voracious readers at that), this is almost unbelievable, pinch-yourself amazingness. It also has a lovely children’s section. Did I mention that this is only one of eighteen libraries in the area and it’s the same size as the one library in our old town? Bookworm heaven. I really try not to gush about the library but I can’t help it. What a gift! thevillageshopsWe’re still adjusting. The house is mostly unpacked save the master bedroom and office. The children and I are back in the books after a month off for moving. (And somehow third and first grader have forgotten everything they ever knew about math. Sigh.) We’ve gotten lost a few times, as is proper for any new adventure. (Apple Maps are not your friend in metro areas, just saying.)  Its a huge, beautiful, wonderful transition.


  • celebrations

    Hello, road trip…

    This Thanksgiving, I went home.

    I haven’t been home in over three years.

    Sometimes in order to move forward, you’ve got to go back to where it all began. I found this very true for me this trip. I needed to see where I had come from, the things that had formed me, catch glimpses of the young woman I used to be so many moons ago. I finally got to meet my niece and nephew (and my neice’s outrageous hair). I walked the beach. I listened close. I loved and laughed.

    It was a reboot desperately needed.  Here’s a few scenes from our trip.