Tuesday, May 23, 2017



These early summer days are all riotous with promise and beauty in all directions.  With my spare time, what little there is of it, I've been planning and dreaming about and working on our big front porch.  It's bordered by birch trees and a big verdant ash tree, all of which provide the most beautiful shade almost all day.  Jesse and I kept looking at each other the past week agreeing "We really need a little table out here where we can eat."  So I hopped on OfferUp (have you seen this?  It strikes me as a nicer version of Craigslist) and the first thing I saw was the perfect table set.  We ran to pick it up and I spent yesterday morning there with the warm breeze blowing gently through the speckled shade. 

My days are full of little things like that right now; I'm so thankful, just thankful over and over and over again for all the Lord's provisions in ways beyond what I could have ever imagined for this moment, for these days with my young children.  There is so much beauty.  The raspberries with what must be thousands of bees flitting among the brambles; the big green strawberries burgeoning, waking up to little arms around my neck and birdsong out the window, soft white pea blossoms, the yellow rose hedge lining my garden, little girls living in their swimsuits all day, the list could go on and on.  

We discovered one of our inherited barn cats in the hedge with a den full of kittens last week, and she let us move them all indoors.  She is a darling cat and an inspiring mother. I've spent an embarrassing number of evening hours since Friday sitting on the floor alone by the box containing her and all five kittens just watching and contemplating my own motherhood.  As I watch her patiently center her whole world around meeting the needs of these minuscule creatures, it reminds me of the importance of putting the needs of my little girls ahead of my own self-centered longing for comfort or quiet or productivity. As I watch them clamber all over her in a chaotic tangle, I feel convicted over the lack of peace and faith I often demonstrate in my motherhood journey.  In so many areas of my life I see more and more how I am so self-focused, so driven by my own wants and needs over those of my loved ones. To lay down one's life is gain; to die to self is to live.  This is foolishness to the modern woman and yet the truth still stands and it takes a skinny calico to remind me of it this week. 

I am knitting the body of the Suzanne cardigan Lyddie picked out; I am afraid I will need to order another skein of Knit Picks Swish DK but will see how far I can get with the skein and a half left.  I need to finish several more inches of the body and then pick up a bunch of stitches to make the border... like a button band, but no buttons. She won't need it until fall so I have plenty of time to get more yarn and finish if I need to.  

I'm reading lots of things here and there including pre-reading the last couple weeks of Lyddie's school books, but mostly this week I'm working my way through a chapter of "Wise Blood" by Flannery O'Connor each night.  It's not easy reading for me, since I'm not a master of the abstract and I feel like her stories are a little too abstract for me to easily understand them. My brain always tries to land on concrete symbolism that isn't necessarily there; perhaps I subconsciously try to separate myself from the characters and the contrasts by inserting symbols to keep myself removed from experiencing the story, but sometimes the darkness and the light are just there. Like real life. I don't think we always need to read what is pleasurable and light-hearted (though there is a place for that too) and I have a knowledge deep down that walking through O'Connor's stories changes me and makes me to see my world in a slightly new way. Although I don't live in the US Southeast and haven't even ever traveled there, I think maybe hidden in deep are truths in her stories that are very relevant to the Rez. So I persist.

I can hardly believe we are nearing the end of May.  Come, dear sunshine, and cheer our hearts!

Joining up with Nicole for Crafting On

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

yarn along

After a whirlwind trip to the Seattle area this weekend we are home and working on our third-to-last week of school.  I am starting to wonder whether I can line up a few books on our kindles for the girls to read this summer or another way to keep them reading interesting things; not an easy task when one has a pretty lame book selection through one's library.

I've been knitting like crazy on Lyddie's Suzanne sweater and am nearing the finish line.  If you don't mind picking up a ton of stitches, it's a great pattern!  I don't really mind that and I like the look it achieves.  It's a pretty knit and I'm happy to be working stockinette now.

I finished In the Woods and cannot recommend it at all.  It was a complete disappointment!  I don't want to give away too many spoilers but I will just say that the last 1/3 of the book was terribly unsatisfying but it had held enough promise early on that I hoped it would resolve with some closure.  Nope.  I don't think I'll read any more of Tana French's books but it's too bad because I'd heard many positive reviews of the book which caused me to pick it up and she does have an interesting style that kept me engaged.

I'm now reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard and it's a breath of fresh air after that last 400-page disappointment. I'm also reading a bit of Flannery O'Connor and seeing it with new eyes.  Listening to Wuthering Heights which is so-so... I haven't really found myself enjoying it either, per se, but I'm sticking it out because it's ... Wuthering Heights and I've always wanted to read it and know the characters because they are cultural references often enough.  And I'm listening to The Count of Monte Cristo (still) along with Heather at the CraftLit podcast and I'm enjoying it a lot the past several chapters.  Usually I ditch books I'm not that into but I am pressing through a lot of these in part because I don't have the energy to switch and find another book to read that I think I'll like better.  I could probably stand to have some book suggestions made in the comments here; I am looking for more past or modern classics - something that will stand the test of time (like Dillard, or Austen, or maybe Willa Cather or...?) or really excellently written mystery novels... or juvenile fiction is often a home run for me.  Anyone want to throw out a few books I should definitely look into that I might put on hold through the library that would help me feel excited to read again?

Monday, May 15, 2017

town clothes: a bit of housekeeping

I feel like a genius for finally coming up with a system to help keep the kids' "town clothes" from getting ruined, lost, and torn in country living play. Do you live in a place that requires "town clothes" and "play clothes"? Or maybe church clothes and school clothes or play clothes.  

I wanted had to figure out a way to keep nice clothes separate - but accessible and organized because we do need them regularly- from the clothes I have for rolling around in the dirt, because that's what my kids really look like most of the time now.  Here's what I did:

My big girls have two and a half drawers each on a tall dresser that stores their clothes and also a spot in the closet for hanging items.   I try not to have too many clothes for them but frankly, I love buying clothes for the girls and it's something I only get to do for a little while longer, so for now I give myself freedom to buy what I love when I see it for a reasonable price. So I took everything out of the dresser drawers, and declared one drawer for each girl as ALL her "town clothes" and one drawer for all the play clothes and pajamas.  Then the fifth, shared drawer has each girl's underwear, socks, tights, swimsuits etc. It's working like a charm!

To keep it smooth, I just quickly pull out the occasional town outfit from each load of laundry (I have to sort mine and Jesse's out anyway) and put those back in the town drawer, and the girls fold and put away their own play clothes and I don't care HOW those drawers look since I never have to dig around in them in moments of stress to find the cute leggings that would match that Sunday dress!   It makes packing for out of town trips a breeze too!  I know I will be able to find clothing acceptable for when we speak at churches or visit family for special events!  The girls seem to know not to mess around with the tidy drawers of town clothes and I think the like having those clothes ready for when we need them, and when I sorted everything originally I stuck a few "new" $1 shirts and shorts from Goodwill in the play clothes drawer so they didn't just feel like I took out all the cute stuff and left them with the boring old stuff for everyday use.  

Rosie has a different small dresser and all her play clothes are in her drawers as always - I just took the town clothes out and folded them into the cupboard of that same dresser. 

No more overstuffed drawers, no more yelling-frustrated mom trying to help a child find a clean unstained, unripped outfit when it's time to go to town or pack a suitcase! Such a small change but with a daily impact:  I love not having to send a child back downstairs to change when they inevitably come up in the morning wearing the adorable new outfit from Grandma on a day they're going to run like banshees through the field or dig in the garden or become covered in sap from tree-climbing... 

Do you have this same problem?  Have you found a different solution that you like better?  If not, maybe you want to try this simple solution!

Friday, May 12, 2017

joy of four

I loved watching Rosie walk wide-eyed into the dining room on the morning of her birthday and light up at seeing her new tiny bicycle on the table.  It took her about two seconds to figure out how to ride it.  She is so determined to be a grown up and asks about once every day, "Mommy, do I look like a Mommy?"  or says with a note of deep longing in her voice, "Oh I wish I could be a grown up."  I guess that is the fate of being the littlest of three girls, but I tell her I am so happy she is still my little girl.  I tell her I'm happy she is four, smiling and sincere as can be, but in my head I'm saying, "NO!  Four!?  Where has my baby gone and where did this big grinning smart running jumping climbing child come from?"

She tries to skip over picture books and look at chapter books instead; she can't read a word, but she flips through the pages for ever so long as if she was really reading.  Well, she can read at least one word:  Rosie.  She's been writing her name for months now and it's precious. She loves to play outdoors and can hardly sit through our little Bible reading and hymn every morning before she is itching to run out to the tire swing and have a spin.  And oh how she loves her aunties and uncles and cousins!  We had such fun visiting with Auntie Holly that weekend.  My girls adore her and I think if they could live with Holly they might choose to. My mother-in-law made that amazing butterfly cake for the birthday celebration we had when we were in Spokane; isn't it cute?

Happy birthday, my darling Joy-Joy.  I am so thankful for all the cuddles and laughter and smiles and beauty you have brought into yet another year of my life.  

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

why i love moana

To celebrate the gorgeous turn of weather we went hiking at Snow Mountain Ranch, taking the aptly named "Wildflower Trail."  Arrowleaf balsam root was prevalent everywhere, big head clover (gorgeous!) and many others that I haven't been able to identify yet.  We hiked in awhile and then sat in the quiet on a blanket on a grassy hillside to eat sandwiches and sketch wildflowers.  The meadowlarks provided the music and the breeze kept it from being too warm as it rippled the grass in waves.  
The Moana soundtrack blasted as we drove through the breathtaking countryside on the way home and we all laughed at the humor in so many of the songs- such great songs and music!  I cried (as always) through "Know Who You Are."  (Spoilers below, read at your own risk) See if you can imagine why:

I have crossed the horizon to find you
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are

I know who you are

The music brings my favorite scene of the movie vividly to mind with each listen.  Moana, alone, crossing the dry seabed toward the terrifying, consuming, destroying, desperate lava monster, singing these words, now laying a hand and forehead on the hardened crust of cooled lava and seeing who she really is. Replacing the heart that belongs to this broken creature and then!  The explosion of life and growth and beauty and restoration that happens with her healing!

It makes me grieve and rejoice because I see myself in Te Ka.  Ravaged and raging and destructive and hungry... but Christ sings these words to me like Moana sings to the hidden Te Fiti.  I doubt this redemptive analogy was at all intentional but the truth and beauty of the gospel can often be found hiding in the most beautiful of stories.  

 "I know who you are."