Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why

































As a mama, it can feel like your babies are your entire reason for breathing, your reason for being, your reason for heart's beating. 

The earth-shaking news that they aren't and can't be is hard to grasp sometimes.  When your heart rejoices and aches so profoundly with the birth, growth, failures, and joys of these lovely creatures brought to you to nurture, the heart can get tangled and forgetful of the great Why behind it all. 

Why?  Why have these Gifts been given to us?  Why do we keep getting up, making the hard choices to sacrifice, discipline, sorrow with and sorrow over?   Why do we focus nearly every waking hour, consciously or at least unconsciously, thinking about and addressing their needs? 

Is it their happiness we must secure?  Is it their health?  Is it their goodness?  Their intelligence, their musicality, their athletic promise?  Their assurance of a secure job and future?  

It can't be.  It can't be any of those things.  While none of those things are bad and all are, indeed, good, they simply aren't the answer to Why.  Because none of those things last, not one item on that list is sure or solid or unshakable.  

The answer to Why is:

Jesus.  All hail King Jesus.  ALL!  yes, our children especially!- to believe He is who He says He is and to trust that He has and will do all He has promised.  Jesus is the reason for moms.  And he's the reason for babies, and for teachers, bankers, pastors, bus drivers, dentists, senators, and the man on the corner holding a cardboard sign.  He is the only answer for us all. 

The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord
She is his new creation by water and the word
From Heavn' he came and sought her to be His holy bride
And with his blood He bought her and for her life He died.

For some of us it can creep in quiet and slow, this forgetting Who we seek and to Whom we belong.  We forget to fight the good fight for our children's sakes, to be steady in our discipline not because we are right and they are wrong, they are weak and we are strong, but because we are called to be faithfully caring for the deep and eternal things of their heart by addressing the daily needs.  It can be so tiring, I hear you, weary mother, and I am you.  That blow up tantrum (theirs?  or yours?) in the chaos of getting out that door to an appointment - or church.  That sigh of frustration over the eighth potty accident of the day.  That worry that maybe you aren't responding to the bickering or the backtalk or the mealtime fussing effectively.  That exasperated cry of "Get back into bed!!" for the hundredth time this week.  Wondering how to keep directing the eyes of the children off of themselves, onto Jesus and onto the hurting neighbors around us while finding a way to keep the joy of innocence as long as is fitting.  Am I doing this right?  

Cast your cares on Jesus, for He cares for you.  Ask Him for wisdom and He promises to give generously to all without finding fault (James 1).  All this work before you is Kingdom building, it is gospel living, it is disciple making.  His light shines bright in the darkness, in your heart, from your being to your children and all around you and it will soon shine from them too.  Be strong and courageous, dear mothers, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  (Joshua 1:9)

Mid toil and tribulation and tumult of her war
She waits the consummation of peace forevermore
Til with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blessed
And the great Church victorious shall be the church at rest. 
        (From The Church's One Foundation)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

a million tiny ways















Oh the happy joy of hearing that we can probably sign papers on our new house this week or early next week!  Buying this house has been fantastically simpler than selling our other house, and buying our other house, for that matter.  I am so glad.  The amount of hoops to jump through as a first time home buyer made things so stressful, but this time we just keep toddling along with no drama.  We plan to begin moving in next Friday. I can hardly believe it. 

We began to read Tales from Moominvalley yesterday and Lyddie loves it.  I also love it and being generally in love with Scandinavia, this quirky story has Scandinavia all over it and is right up my alley.  I am amazed at the cursive handwriting of both Lyddie and Millie.  Their copywork is looking lovely and the quick hard work of introducing cursive in early fall is paying off.  I'm really glad I went that direction.  Rosie likes to sit when we do school with her spiral notebook and make loopy "letters" and gets mad at me when I move on to the next math problem or spelling word before she's "ready."  It makes me smile and makes me realize how quickly the time will fly by until she's reading and writing, and then I want to cry that my baby is getting so big.  Today we laid the foundation for multiplication with work on doubling and halving and I loved the light going on in Lyddie's eyes when she really realized what we were doing.  On Sunday our sermon at church was about a passage in 2 Peter that speaks about false teachers.  Lyddie was listening closely, and when we had a mini lesson about our hymn (The Church's One Foundation) over breakfast this morning and discussed the line, "by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed" these were setting up a really interesting knowledge base for reading later in the morning about Athanasius in Trial and Triumph, a book of stories of the early church.  Athanasius spent most of his life teaching the truth of Christ's deity against the then-prevalent Arian view that Christ was not truly God in the way the Father is.  The story of his life is very interesting, but it was made even more interesting by all the events colliding and the ideas of falsity and truth and standing for the truth were spreading long fingers out into our brains.  Basically, school is the best.  But don't ask how our session of watercoloring went.  {It ended with children whining and me yelling and putting myself in a short time-out.  Then we danced around and did the hokey pokey and ring around the rosy and everyone moved past the outburst.  Weird.}  
This afternoon was reading and cross-stitching and an elaborate game of "Calicraters" (aka Calico Critters in Rosie-speak), and researching photography (me) and baking a batch of Snickerdoodles because even though I'm trying so hard to lose weight, sometimes you just need to have a few baggies of cookies in the freezer to pull out for dessert.  To cap off a really nice day, I got to have a scheduled phone date with a friend who is also using Ambleside Online to homeschool her son and it was a joy to talk and visit and laugh and dream about ways we can be alongside each other in our journey of homeschooling.  

We took our old couch to the dump when we moved.  It was completely awful and I had never liked it that much to begin with.  In our ten years of marriage, we had one couch I liked well enough but it got pretty ruined in our move across the state and we got rid of it a long time ago.  We have been really hoping for a leather couch and Jesse has been watching Craigslist.  We had a little money set aside from Christmas gifts so we could jump if he saw something.  This afternoon a beautiful set was listed a few hours away from us in lovely condition and for a price that we couldn't pass up.  Jesse flew to his car.  The sellers are a retired couple and they are downsizing from a huge house to a smaller apartment and they said they would hold it for us until five so he drove over the pass and got there right in time.  I haven't seen them yet besides pictures since he's on the road as I write, but oh I can't wait.  It's a couch, a loveseat, an ottoman and an armchair with brass nail trim! For less than we thought we'd have to pay just for a couch!  What?!  I think they will be really beautiful in the new house.  

Speaking of which.  I haven't posted any pictures of our new house yet because it was too emotionally charged for me to "put it out there" until now.  But I'm ready.  Here are a few pictures I snapped when we were there for the home inspection last month.  Obviously the belongings aren't ours but the idea is there.  The kitchen has a lot of knotty pine and the room that will be our master bedroom is floor to ceiling pine as well.  There are a lot of other places with the same pine (a hallway of pine with built in cupboards).  It's really lovely.  Four bedrooms and two bathrooms, an upstairs living room and a downstairs family room.  Two beautiful woodstoves, a big covered front porch, several outbuildings, and a pasture.  2+ acres with trees, even some young fruit trees, and a gorgeous view.  There were several times I'd drive out around this house and think, "I really wish I lived in this specific area of the valley for its beauty."  It's exactly what we dreamed of in a million tiny ways and I truly never expected we'd find each of those little things we hoped for in one place.  We are scheming about how we will make it "ours" over time but I'm really thankful to be buying a home that is already beautiful in so many ways and only needs a few things up front (e.g., kitchen floor and countertops updated and we will replace the roof).  That's pretty different from our last house that was 100% project and even then there wasn't much hope of it ever being what we really loved.  We are feeling so thankful for the ways the Lord has gifted us this home that will very soon be ours.








eowyn ivey, knitting failures, and so much snow





The snow is piled up.  We have over a foot of snow on the ground and it's lovely and we're stuck inside and can't get the car to move either.  The roads are slick and Jesse is working from home so far this week.  So I plan for another day hibernating and doing school and trying not to drive each other nuts in 600 square feet together.  Chicken chili in the crockpot and math and books and maybe we'll make cookies today.  

 I have just finished reading To The Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey's second book that came out recently, set in historic Alaska just like The Snow Child.  But it is a different book for sure.  I love how she treats her characters with such beauty and dignity.  Bad and hard things happen but there is always a steadiness and some kind of healing that happens for each one.  The Snow Child is probably in my top five modern books, which hopefully tells you that even though I didn't like this second book quite as much as I loved her first, I still really loved this one.  I've been puzzling over why and I think it's because this one is in epistolary form so I think I felt one step removed from the characters; the events are always seen through what they find important to put on the page in a journal or letter and I also was not in the middle of the action.  That's just a literature form preference, but as far as that style goes, this one is well done and I think very worth my time.  I'll definitely keep reading whatever Eowyn Ivey writes next as quickly as she writes it.  She's masterful.

Now I'm back to reading the third Harry Potter and the sixth volume of Charlotte Mason's series.  We are about to close on our new house !!!  maybe Friday and so I doubt I will have a lot of time for reading in the next few weeks as we begin to get ready to move in.  We are very excited and can't believe the Lord has done this for us.  We never expected to find something that so matches our desires and He just laid it in our laps.  We didn't even find it, but He found it for us.  We are so thankful and eager and nervous and joyful.  Thank you for those of you who have been so encouraging in our long journey of home selling and buying.  Eventually I will write a long post about the whole story in one place that may encourage others who are walking through similar experiences.  

Oh knitting.  Knitting.  I've been struggling with my knitting which explains my lack of knitting posts.  I had made a small mistake in my Buds and Bumbles shawl (pictured above) that was very easy to fix but I'd lost steam and put it aside.  Lyddie had also picked out a cute yarn for a hat (pink with silver thread running through it) so after starting and ripping out this pattern because it was turning out too big even though I had achieved gauge, I instead picked out THIS adorable hat.  Then the saga really began. The actual pattern is great, but she has you cast on with a 2x2 tubular cast on which took forever to figure out and execute and didn't even look that different to me from a long tail cast on - just stretchier.  Then once I had figured out a tutorial (knit purl hunter has a good one, not that you need it because don't use tubular cast on EVER if you can help it) and got in five more rows, I realized my yarn was twisted in the round despite my careful attempt to join. How did I miss that for so long?  Oh yeah, because the cast on obscured it and I didn't know what was going on.  Rip, rip, rip.  Then I decided to try another take on a tubular cast on (the alternate cable cast on) that didn't require a provisional cast on, and at the moment I can't remember why but had to rip that one out after a few rows.  Rip, rip, rip.  Decided to go back to the original pattern recommendation and bit the bullet and did the tubular cast on.  Got about an inch into the actual knitting of the hat and realized it was going to be way too big... guess I should have done a gauge swatch.  I usually do swatches if I am doing a big project like a sweater, but for a hat or mitts and other small projects I hate swatching and don't usually think it's worth it.  But this child's size hat was definitely almost too big for me and would have been more a cowl for my seven year old.  RIP RIP RIP.  My new plan:  Cast on using the German Twisted Cast on that I used when making the Wheaten hat I did for Jesse over Christmas and then knit the pattern as written.  Instead of figuring it out last night I decided to work on the shawl instead.  And vegged out in front of the show Justified.  Ha!

I've also been cross-stitching a lot and you can see a few pictures of my finished stitching on Rosie's Shepherds Bush stocking on Instagram here!  More will be coming on my blog.  

So -  happy yarn along, I finally made it back, although our school schedule will be thrown off now ;)  I hope I get a chance to visit some of your blogs, leave me a comment so I am sure to hop over to see your projects... I'm so out of the loop at the moment and haven't been able to keep up because of, well, life.  I hope January is treating you well.     

Sunday, January 08, 2017

chilly










We are hibernating in our little den with the blizzard swirling all around outside.  The snow has been piling up all day and we have had an accumulation of at least a foot in the past week I think.  Several inches today.  Pipes in our friends' homes are freezing and our pellet stove is running nonstop to keep our place warm.  Schools are canceling and delaying and church was just a handful of whoever could drive themselves there safely.  I am missing all the children and praying that they are warm and healthy enough in the middle of this terrible cold, knowing realistically that many of them likely aren't warm and some are hungry, especially if schools are canceling.  I am thankful that the Lord promises He is everywhere, that He is good, and that He has good things for His children. We can trust Him with these little ones even when we can't get to them. 

The sun catches red hair and glints while she pulls on her boots and I smile to see how fast she is at dressing herself for outside play these days.  The season of their complete dependence on mama for snow clothes has passed and I remember just last year and the years before when it took a half hour or more just to get everyone out the door to play and then another half hour to change and clean up when they came back in.  It's much simpler now with the two older ones being almost independent, leaving just Rosie needing more help.  

I have had time this past week to reflect and plan a little about our school year. I am really satisfied with the curriculum choices I made for my first grader and kindergartner.  Ambleside Online continues to be a really good application of Charlotte Mason's methods for us.  I love the big scope of each school activity we do.  The history reading is beautifully focused on ideas rather than trying to retain facts and details.  The literature is beautiful: introductions to Shakespeare plays written by E. Nesbit, gorgeous fairy tales written in English of the past, Just So Stories by Kipling that have us laughing out loud, and this term we are reading AA Milne poetry which we really enjoy.   School lessons are each very short (though there are several of them each morning) and we are done with our formal subjects by noon every day.  Morning lessons even include sipping tea and nibbling snacks while listening to Gregorian chants this term.  Our math curriculum is fast paced and full of variety but I see a lot of fruit already in the ways the girls are applying the concepts to much higher levels than I would have expected for their ages.  I glanced ahead in the book and it actually introduces the concept of multiplication in a few weeks.  Even their spelling has greatly improved and I can see the groundwork being laid for excellent comprehension of spelling rules for the future.  

My new venture is to have a slightly more guided afternoon with several activity choices during quiet time especially since we are cooped up because of the cold.  Because both girls are pretty independent for chunks of time with cross-stitch now, it's possible to include that as well as nature notebooks and reading in our afternoon.  I really loved listening to this episode of A Delectable Education this week which outlined why afternoons are kept mostly free for the child to ruminate and explore and play. Our afternoons aren't always like that because of our participation in Kingdom Kids, but the days we are home I seek to have that mentality. Although we are having discouraging struggles with behaviors with one of our children right now,  I am really thankful that school continues to be a time of joy and delight together.   

I've been planning my personal booklist for 2017 and have some books there I've been wishing to read for a long time.  I am wishing to read a few more nonfiction stories, like memoirs or biographies.  I read a couple last year (The Boys in the Boat, for one) that I really enjoyed and felt like my read world was expanding in interesting ways, so I have added a few of those, although my list is still fiction-heavy. I was trying to decide what my favorite book from last year was and I thought it would be easier than it is because I read a lot of really great books.  I think it is between Swallows and Amazons (by Arthur Ransome) or Gilead (by Marilynne Robinson) or Shiloh (by Helena Sorenson, no -  not the Shiloh about the dog-  this is the first in a series set in another world).  All three stories are excellent and completely different from one another so it makes them hard to compare. 

Our membership in the Read Aloud Revival has been worth the money.  This month all three girls are participating in a daily read aloud challenge, and besides printing out a calendar for them to track their reading, I haven't had to do anything! My favorite thing is when I see them reading to each other but they can even read out loud to a stuffed animal or a pet.  A couple days ago Lyddie read out loud to our dear friend and neighbor when she came by for a visit. This week we will get to participate in our first "author access event" where kids can interact live in a webinar with a famous author.  This month's event is with Andrea Davis Pinkney who has written several great picture books. I can't believe some of the others that are on the schedule too:  Jon Klassen, who wrote the hilarious stolen hat picture books, Jane Yolen (!), Tomie DePaola (!), Marla Frazee (!), Jennifer Trafton, Andrew Peterson...so many favorites.  If you are a mom or a teacher and haven't checked out the Read Aloud Revival, the free podcast is worth listening to regularly!

January is ticking by and we are awaiting the official report from the appraisal of our new home.  It may be another ten days based on the deadline but we are praying that the report would get in this week so we can keep moving along with buying.  In the meantime we are dreaming and planning about the few things we hope to accomplish in the house before moving in - paint colors?  Kitchen updates?  We'll see!    

Sunday, January 01, 2017

slowing




















  


The joyful chaos of the holidays has passed.  This year I realized and came to term with the fact that before Christmas will never be a time to slow down and be quiet.  I was feeling disjointed and irritated whenever I was seeing posts on blogs or instagram of families who just slow way down and focus on the quiet of winter's arrival - why couldn't I achieve that? ....

I probably never will and that's okay.  Christmas is really about resting in the work of Jesus.  We will always be busy in the month of December.  But I can strive to create a feeling of quiet in the midst of the constant movement that will surely always accompany our December.  It was difficult to find that this year with the whole five-people-in-one-room scenario and I'm not sure I succeeded but there was happiness too.  

Then Christmas flew on past and we had a beautiful week with family.  We went swimming at the pool, I had a divine four hour lunch alone with a friend I hadn't connected with in person one-on-one for at least...two years?  We went to see Moana (love!) and had lunch in a big mall that made my country-girl daughters' eyes pop.  We had our annual family "noodle night" in which I attempted to remake a favorite egg noodle recipe from my great grandmother.  Still working on it but it was delicious and so sweet to spend time with all my brothers and their ladies.

Now the activity and fun is slowing and our family is settling back into a routine again and I am spreading out papers everywhere to organize and plan for school. I had hoped to wait a little longer but decided that I want to guiltlessly take off a little time when we are moving in the near future so I'd better start this week. The appraisal on our new house seemed to go well so we are eagerly anticipating being homeowners again soon.