Tuesday, September 26, 2017

...motherhood is fierce and wonderful... (and my lengthy current booklist!)

Fall colors, fair fun, moody skies.  School days fly by with lots of books and drawing and music and math.  Millie is learning about ancient British history, which is a pre-cursor to the (closer-to-home) American history Lyddie is now learning.  I am reading through a lot of the girls' books ahead of time so that I am a little ahead of the curve.  Homeschooling is really a part-time job, did you know that?  It takes me several hours every day to prep, teach, clean up, and prep for the next day.  It means I have to pick and choose what I'm able to accomplish or participate in very carefully to leave time for keeping up with running the home, spending time with Rosie, managing my friendships that I cherish, and maintaining one or two things that are mainly for me, like knitting or cross-stitching or reading or, yes, exercising (my least favorite but probably most essential renewed "hobby").  If something doesn't make the cut it doesn't mean it's not wonderful or important but just that I am so completely aware of my finite abilities that I know I won't do anything well if I add it in.  What a balancing act. 

We are participating/helping with Kingdom Kids two afternoons a week.  All of us girls really enjoy going and being with the kids and having fun.  I find it really life-giving. I try to keep an open hand with whatever the Lord has put in front of me, knowing that my main priorities of mothering this stage may call me elsewhere, but I feel thankful that my little three are doing well and enabling me to participate in something outside of our home that brings me such joy and delight in the long run. 

I haven't done any canning or preserving of any kind this year, which is really unusual but unsurprising, so to make up for it, I bought two boxes of peaches that I'm quickly trying to can so we have several jars to grab this winter to go alongside soup dinners. Fourteen jars in and I still have another whole box to put up.  I also have a cantaloupe I want to make into jam from Food in Jars- a recipe I've been wanting to try for a few years because we really love melon.  I plan to do some applesauce too, if I can, and that's about it.  

We had a surprise batch of chicks hatch from a broody free-ranging hen and they are just the absolute cutest thing.  Although we weren't desirous of any more chickens, (we already have about 17), I never get tired of watching them trail after their mama, who is as protective as can be and fiercely fluffs her feathers up and will fly at anyone ostensibly posing a threat to her brood.  Motherhood is fierce and wonderful. 

As long as I'm just writing a rambly post, I'll note my booklist:  

  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is a really well written novel in the fantasy genre but is what I'd call "gateway" fantasy.  The story is very good and it doesn't really fit all the "tropes" that some of the fantasy series rely so heavily on.  Jesse also picked it up to reread it after I started, in order to beat me to the second book, which, since I did give it to him last year as a gift, I guess I should defer to him.
  •  I'm also reading Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix, 
  • Slowly making my way through Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, 
  • Reading Volume II: Parents and Children of Charlotte Mason's Home Education series (excellent and full of Aha! moments!)
  •  finally nearing the end of listening to The Count of Monte Cristo along with the CraftLit podcast
  • and delighting in listening to The Green Jacket  along with the Forgotten Classics podcast
For the girls' school pre-reading, I just read 

  • Pinocchio for the first time ever and
  • Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle, which is a book I remember really loving when I read it as a child for school and I think Lyddie is going to love it when I hand it to her as a free read,  
  • Now I'm working on the Crimson Fairy Book of fairy stories compiled by Andrew Lang. 
 I don't know how I'm squeezing in so much reading; I'm not really, I just fly through the school books in a couple days each, and my own reading is much slower than that.  How lovely it is that there are so many delicious books.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September is nice


 Back to school!  Busy as can be, I wake up early every morning and head to bed a little too late, just to stay on top of things right now.  The sky turns to dusk earlier and earlier so that by 8:30 the sun has set and it's quite dark, and I get so disoriented; surely it's time to turn in but there's still so much to do.  

Homeschooling two in these early years is surprisingly not much more work than one so far, especially since I spent a significant amount of time this summer preparing and planning.  We start school at 8,break for chores at 9, and are done with most everything by noon.  The mornings are jam-packed with a great variety of short lessons: Bible, poetry, memorization, drawing, spelling, math, literature, history, geography, natural science, a variety of music, penmanship, and other happy things.  Rosie loves to join in sometimes and other times she's making her own fun in the mud or on the swings or in the sensory bins I have put together for her.  Afternoons hold splashing in homemade mud puddles while swinging, knitting**, stripping bark from walking sticks ("Daddy's going to give it an oil finish if we get all the bark off!!"), cross-stitch, playing with frogs, digging in the dirt, a bit more pleasure reading... September is nice. 

Lyddie and Millie had their very first ballet class this week and couldn't have been more delighted.  Rosie will be well prepared when it comes to be her turn in a couple years since they have spent all kinds of time talking and teaching her what they learned.  And they are just the sweetest little ballerinas in their dearly loved leotards.  

** I am working on a little knit dress for Rosie that she picked out called Anakhoreo by Taiga Hilliard, who designed the Rio dress I made for Rosie when she was an infant, and which she was able to wear until she was probably three.  This is a very similar pattern but with a cable panel rather than a seed stitch panel.  Part of why I loved the Rio so much was the yarn - frog tree pediboo was delightful and totally held up like a dream.  This is just knit picks swish which I like - it's a good quality for the price, but which will probably not hold up as well and it definitely won't have the same soft drape as the Pediboo. But it will be sweet all the same!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

august 10 glimpse

Suddenly the light stands out to me everywhere.  I realized I am not photographing my children, or my surroundings.   I'm photographing light.  That sudden lightning bolt has affected my mental process behind the camera recently and I am always looking to capture the light.  I know that it is a very basic and simple photography concept that took way too long to really click into my head but it's not really my head it clicked into; it is more my heart and my understanding of light and shadows and how their interplay makes up the world around us.  There's a metaphor there. I doubt there is any visible difference in my pictures, but the consciousness is there and ready to be stretched and developed.  I really love the way a camera captures beauty, sorrow, fear, disgust - all these things that can be contemplated later and remembered with a sigh or a laugh.  It is my life that I am capturing with the light.  

I accidentally capture my children's personalities - Lyddie trying out whether she likes to perform for the camera or ignore it, Rosie mostly unconscious of me in the background looking for the light, Millie deliberately ignoring mostly, but eager to see the pictures later and smiling at the memories they hold.   

My favorite current book holds the same light and shadows.  Lila by Marilynne Robinson does not disappoint after having read Gilead by the same author.  I am swept along in Lila's thoughts, and it is fascinating to hear her story from her own perspective after having read the other book from her husband's point of view.  Her childhood of neglect and rescuing, her early adulthood of abandonment and sorrow, her mature womanhood with a pinprick of faith alongside all the mistrust and doubt that come naturally after traumatic experiences.  I really do get lost in her memories and reflections as I wander the outskirts of Gilead with her.  It is reminiscent of Wendell Berry but rather than writing about fairly healthy and functional communities that are evaporating, Robinson seems drawn to the beauty in the midst of the brokenness.  Not that Berry doesn't succeed in the same things, but they are different in that way.  If you like Wendell Berry, you will probably like giving this author a go. If you do or if you have already read her books, drop me a note and let me know what you think in the comments.  

Saturday, August 05, 2017

summer thanksgivings

Our first trip of the summer up to Rimrock Lake. A respite and quiet of playing in the water, reading along the shore and picnicking.
Most days are full of of a flurry of activity.  What a blessing it is that my girls have gotten to participate in so many of the kids' activities at church.  The older two spend their mornings every other week with other kids from the community at church for Day Camp which has given them so many opportunities to make friendships with the other girls their ages. We spend the afternoons of those same weeks in the housing project nearby doing what can be described as a backyard Bible club.   This is the first summer where I feel they have really started to feel like a part of the group of kids.  They come home with stories about their friends and the activities they've done and I can tell especially Lyddie is feeling really happy about those friendships, especially when that friend seeks her out too and calls Lyddie her best friend.  I'm thankful.  
While these developing friendship for my girls bring me joy and hope, my joy feels cautious by knowing that eventually the deeper into friendships they go over the years is likely to open up doors to knowledge of brokenness and suffering as they grieve for the hurts of their friends they are growing up with.  Their eyes will not be long covered or blinded to the sufferings of others in a deeply hurting community.   It is a serious matter that I pray over and need to pray more over.  I am conscious of choices to preserve the beauty of childlike innocence while also encouraging them to understand God's love for the broken and hurting people of our world (including themselves!). The things is, I want to help teach this kind of tenderness in them, but what if it doesn't turn out in the end to be tenderness but instead a hardness toward the Lord for allowing such pain on earth?  It's probably not as clear-cut as "either/or," especially in the complex range of human emotion and understanding that comes with age.  I long for them to grow up to know His love and turn to pour it out to others who need it.  Those are my primary parenting goals and these are some of the challenges of my mothering that I am mindful of in the quiet moments.  I am thankful that God promises to love and protect my children, who are lent to me for only a little while.  I know that when I ask Him for wisdom, He will lead me and I can trust Him as He walks beside us.  Thanks for reading, my friends.  I will one day look back and see how He has answered my prayers for guidance and protection and wisdom.  

Thursday, August 03, 2017


I am reading Miracles by Eric Metaxas this summer.  Before he launches into stories of miracles as most people think of them (miraculous healings and so forth) he spends time defining a miracle and laying out the miracle that life exists.  He details several incredibly specific requirements for the presence of life that scientists have been discovering in the past fifty years since the theory that life probably exists beyond our planet became widely popularized.  In short, at that time, it was thought that there were two main requirements for life to exist, so the likelihood that alien life exists was thought to be very probable.  Since then innumerable discoveries have come to light about what exactly makes Earth so incredibly unique and allows it to support life. I was stunned and in awe again at the perfect precision God had in designing creation.  
For instance, if the earth was even slightly bigger or smaller, gravity would be affected which in turn would affect our atmosphere and air.  With increased gravity,gaseous elements would settle on the surface of the earth which now dissipate into the atmosphere and other elements necessary for us to breathe would not stay close to the surface of the earth if gravity was decreased. 
He discusses the fabulous qualities of water that allow it to float when it freezes (thereby not killing water creatures by freezing at the bottom of bodies of water) because of its unique molecular structure.  He talks about the incredible uniqueness of our moon and tides in a solar system where most of the other planets have more and much smaller moons.  I'll stop there and will just recommend you read it.  As I look at the creation around me, these exquisite details stand out to me these days as a miracle. 
The way the harvest moon hangs low and large and red.  The lace of the dragonfly wing as it sways in the birch.  The laughter of my children as their lungs pump and their legs flash and run through the grass.  All of this is a miracle made possible by the perfect design of a good creator.