Mother’s Day 2017

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{My first daffodil bloomed Easter morn – 2017}

 

The sun greeted me this morning, a small gift with big meaning. I brewed my coffee and briefly wondered what I should attempt for breakfast for my crew. Sunday mornings are busy, usually eggs and toast are on the menu. But I chose to grab a few moments, legs folded under me, hot mug of coffee in hand, reading my favorite book. Paul’s words jumping out at me as I dipped into I Corinthians, at least I think that’s what’s after Romans and did Paul author it? The children slowly trickle down as the sun rises higher. I listened to the dear, scruffy nine year old read some Danny the Dinosaur, refilling my coffee. A bleary-eyed daughter appears headed in the general direction of the WC. A cry of, “Mommy!” from the two year old who has appeared with the 12 year old, almost man-child. I snuggle “the baby” and try scrubbing off the crusty food left on his chin from last night. I should have done baths yesterday, drat.

The children convince me that toast is all they want and will ever need, especially slathered in Nutella. Yes, such a balanced breakfast. Hazelnuts have protein, don’t they? (Just forget about the sugar for a moment.) It can’t be much worse if I gave them cereal. Then they start in with lovely happy mother’s day wishes and ultimately, hand me cards and the surprise of a Kitchen Aid mixer coming soon to a kitchen near me. Yay and hallelujah. I’ve wanted one of these for a while and am eagerly anticipate whipping up all sorts of yummy things, my poor arms thank you, husband and children.

Yikes. The clock is against me, I inwardly rale. How in the world am I to get all these children out the door for church in time? We will have to go semi-dirty as it is, I regretfully think EVERY WEEK. We scramble looking for the various items that always seem lost on Sundays. Shoes, hair brushes, and clean pants, of course, are the main culprits. There are always the inevitable battles over bathroom rights, who breathed on who with foul breath, and who gets to sit where in the big, ‘ole red van. But somehow, we all make it to church. Not all clean, not all with shoes on (true story), and slightly harried, but hopefully, with some semblance of a smile on our face. We are supposedly joyful Christians, after all.

After church, I notice all of us battle-wearied mothers, lugging all of our lovely handmade cards and various flowers gifts kindly supplied by the church. Of course, those of us who have more children than the 2.4 national average now have 245,895 smashed cards, bedraggled flowers, along with our diaper bags, Bibles, and discarded shoes we looked for over an hour this morning tirelessly.

The day continues as I enjoy my own mother, we feast, we fellowship, and we scrub some dishes. We wipe noses, and we soothe fears. Basically, we continue with our mothering dance as old as time.  I gaze in awe at my brand new little niece, wash a few more dishes, contemplating later over a quiet solo dinner all that mothering encompasses. A chance to see the world through a child’s eyes, a chance to stretch my impatient, selfish heart, and a chance to be a part of the creation of life itself.  A chance to love someone other than myself. What a gift.

~

Hearth Ridge Diary {Tuesday night}

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{ a stream near us that I dubbed The Withywindle. It’s stuff dreams are made of, don’t you agree?}

Tuesday night is always taco night here at the farm. I don’t remember when we instituted this tradition, but anticipation builds every week. I’m glad a bit of meat, sour cream, salsa, cold lettuce, a big giant family-sized bag of shredded cheese, with a side of crispy tortilla chips elicits such rave reviews. The home cook takes all the encouragement they can get! ¡Olé!

The morning dawned cool and rainy, misty grayness hovering over the farm. Perfect for coffee and reading together. We were particularly moved and had a good discussion over Elizabeth Yates’, Amos Fortune, Free Man.

Early afternoon found us tackling chores, while listening to an old folk song and hymn collection from our Charlotte Mason community group. “Goober Peas” rang out and the broom sweeping seem to keep time to the beat. The sky clearing a bit, I was able to run out in the afternoon, in an attempt to help at a friend’s yard sale, but alas they really had it under control. I felt a little like Mel Gibson in his movie “Brave Heart” while out, silently screaming, “FREEDOM!” in my mind as I drove gaily down the road. A diet soda, chocolate-definitely-not-on-my-diet, and podcasts cheering me on my way. I threw around all sorts of ideas with this empty bit of time on my hands as I pointed my Dodge Caravan homewards. Should I find a place to sit and sip coffee? Are there any nice places open in my rural area past four o’clock in the afternoon? (Don’t laugh. A real dilemma in rural areas.) I settled on a bigger public library. I ransacked the memoir, writing, and poetry section and sat down to peruse in a comfy chair by the window. Pure bliss.

Glancing at my phone, I realized it was time to head home. I put some of the books back including a fascinating one about literary places in the Midwest. I definitely hope to check into Sterling North’s museum and a few other places someday. Road trip, anyone? I am currently reading Aldo Leopold’s A Sand Country Almanac and would love to visit The Shack.

As I left the town, my eyes drank in the view. Oh my. Spring here is delicious and food for the soul. The green is so hopeful, so light, so refreshing. The hills reaching to the blue sky, touching the clouds. The Amish were out enjoying their little horses and carts, scooters, and roller blades. I saw the freshly plowed fields finished, I had passed them working earlier.

It looks like more rain moving in from the east, but the rain-scented air is worth it. My two year old is out picking bouquets of dandelions for me, the sun setting. A lump forms in my throat about these precious children I’ve been given for such a short time. Glorious gift and weighty responsibility. I read this morning about how Gladys Taber’s mother left the to-do list and took her on a picnic,

“And it occurs to me now that it is a good thing for any parent to stop now and then and wonder what memories they are giving their children. We all try so hard to leave real property, but memories are property of the heart.”

Stillmeadow Sampler

pg 33

~

 

Hearth Ridge Diary {early May 2017}

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“Mom,” she sobbed, “they (her siblings) called me Veruca Salt!” Her head lowers into her hands in an adorable, pitiful way. “Do you know what this means?” my daughter cried. “It means they think I’m a brat!” As I choke back a smile, I  try to console my daughter’s hurt feelings and talk about it with her. As the weather ever so slowly warms up here, the green bursting forth, glorious skies, and warm sunshine, we are all feeling a bit cramped with formal learning and books. It’s always this way in spring, we long to burst forth, just like the flowers from the ground and birds in birdsong. We’ve been outdoors more, using the clothesline, the children playing baseball with my father-in-law, basketball games, riding bikes, going on walks and, of course yard work is picking up significantly. The vistas are breath-taking here at Hearth Ridge and they are working their way into all of our hearts. Many of the hills and bubbling streams, with their little copses, remind me in various ways of North England. The Amish community plowing with their horses and their clotheslines full of monochromatic clothing whipping in the wind, lend a quaintness and a vintage quality of ages past.

“Hey, Mom! Do you have a magical marker?” another child asks me. I smile wishing I did have a magical marker or anything magic for that matter. A slight sense of weariness has been inching it’s way into my bones, yet, I know that we have a small break coming from our formals studies soon. I will use the break to plan the next set of wonderful books we will be diving into, spend time outdoors and traveling with our large extended family, and getting outside to blow the cobwebs away.  We have a few books to read aloud this summer and nature journals we’d love to share together as well.

I’ve been changing over our winter clothing to spring, although our area can’t make up it’s mind, per usual. I’ve been slowly pondering the task of feeding eight people for summer without my fall back on soup, which we eat copious amounts three seasons out of the year. I pulled out my friend’s chicken salad recipe and it was delicious, and I suppose I should clean and get the grilled ready to go. Sandwiches for two months, anyone? The new recipe for a coconut cake for Easter Sunday was a big fat failure. I think it might be something to do with my blender being broken and I tried whipping meringue by hand. Ha. I can’t even make a good meringue with a blender.

I’ve been pondering once again how many small things make up a big whole. How all the little things, the hard things, rotten things, beautiful things of life are a blessing. I was reading somewhere and stumbled on this quote.  I think I will think on this a bit more in the coming days.

The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things. Hans Christian Anderson

~

April Reads

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Silence by  Shusako Endo – (*****) This was an interesting and challenging book. The descriptions and writing style were beautiful. It made me think deeply. That is why I rated it so highly. However, I didn’t really love this book. I have a longer review on Goodreads, if you are interested.

Thistle and Thyme: Tales and Legends from Scotland by Sorche Nic Leodhas – (****) I loved these! A bit creepy, mysterious, and romantic. Short tales and legends with Scottish charm. Children would love these as much as I did!

The Crimson Skew by S.E. Grove -(**)   Last month, I talked about the first two in this YA series. I was looking forward to this last title in the trilogy. Unfortunately, I was so disappointed!  I liked that questions where answered that had been asked earlier in the series and there were some delightful moments, but overall, this got a bit preachy for me on social issues (ie. war etc) and I thought it got a little weirder with the fortune teller and the grove of memories was too vague. Bummer.

Stillmeadow Daybook by Gladys Taber – (*****) I often read Gladys’ seasonal memoirs to coincide with the current month or season I am in. So it takes me awhile to get through her books. However, that is not a problem, as she never fails to delight! I was so enchanted and once again I found myself slowing down to notice little things about my daily homemaking, my family, and the nature around us. This is one of the three Taber titles I own, so I’m glad to read more of my delicious library shelf titles.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – (***) I loved Margaret Lea and the beginning part of this book…I wanted to just follow her around and hear more about her life and dig around her and her father’s bookshop together. Yes, I’m THAT boring. I did not like so much the mystery or Vita Winter’s life. Maybe I’m too hopelessly romantic or something or too unrealistic. Miss Winter’s life was SO dark and hopeless and I was just like, “What about you Margaret?” Also I did not like the switching of perspective between Margaret, Vita, and the character’s in Vita’s story…I got confused…a few times I skimmed over parts. The writing of this book was BEAUTIFUL, Setterfield is a fantastic writer, I just wasn’t loving the grim, darkness of the horrible life lived by “Vita Winter” and her family. I did appreciate Margaret’s sorrow over her family secret etc, but the tie in with Vita’s was strange to me and felt forced, dark, and hopeless. I don’t like hopeless fiction. The ending felt sad too, and again hand me an ice cream and a fuzzy puppy, I’m not that great with sad endings. Overall, I was drawn in and this was well-written, it’s probably just my taste.

A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge – (*****) I’ve read this title many times, so a reread for me. There is something about Jocelyn trying to find his way through his darkness and despair that just grips me. The beauty of words, the house & bookshop, the beautiful cathedral town in England, the family relationships Jocelyn fosters (especially with his Grandfather), and the mystery surrounding Ferranti, a reclusive man, draw you in. I love that Ferranti’s writings and the bookshop full of beautiful books are the bases for Jocelyn’s journey towards healing. Highly recommend.

Suncatchers by Jamie Langston Turner – (***) This book is VERY slow reading because of the heavy character driven descriptive style. However, I love Turner’s way of writing about someone outside of the Christian faith looking into it. This had a simple plot, and you spent an huge amount of time inside the main character Perry’s mind and what he was thinking about all the people who were around him. I enjoyed it, but it did not move you along, you were standing still, listening into conversations and thoughts. S – L – O – W. I appreciate Turner’s writing style and think it is beautiful and thoughtful. So far, my favorite title of this author’s is Winter Birds.

Judges, Ruth, Acts: The Holy Bible (*****)

~

The Music of Domesticity

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{Spring book love}

Life is full, isn’t it? I’ve been caught once again between the things that must be done and the things that one wishes to do. However, thankfully, there is some overlap and that is the beauty of looking closely at life, a sort of thread of music woven throughout. A tune carrying us forward. There truly are moments of delight to be found in every hour of mundane.  As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been ruminating on the relatively short years of my mothering journey so far, trying to remember when I began to see mothering and all things domestic as a gift and a song. My memory isn’t the greatest, but I recall a book called, The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocketboth of my dear sisters and I laughing about the title, yet it meaning so much to me. It gave me a permission to ENJOY art, culture, beauty, and domesticity in my home. Even though my faith is extremely important to me, when I started as a wife and mother, unfortunately, I had some unrealistic standards from the faith community that I took on as a burden. This was a lack of discernment and error on my part, viewing opinions that are man-made as truth, but are not actually from The Holy Bible. Insecurity reigns supreme and it scrambles to look for formulas.  I also remember savoring Edith Schaeffer’s books and Ruth Bell Graham’s poetry. And of course, the gift of Gladys Taber, who I was introduced to through another lovely person, Susan Branch. Gladys column in the Ladies Home Journal many years ago was titled, “Diary of Domesticity” and I think that is just lovely and it inspires me.  In the Family Circle she penned, “Butternut Wisdom”, so sweet and quaint. And of course, my dear mentor, Charlotte Mason, shared on education, life, and relationships. I was so encouraged to read this today and this the other day, thankful once again for having found the name Charlotte Mason almost 10 years ago, and following the prompting to dig a bit deeper. My own dear mother, Margaret, has been a constant example of servant-hood. Just laying aside her own desires for others out of love.  These sweet notes of encouragement also have floated out from many fiction authors over the years. I especially fondly recall hours with L.M. Montgomery, Elizabeth Goudge, and Jane Austen.  Katrina Kension and Annis Duff come to mind as well. All of these women are so different, not all of the same faith, not all mothers themselves, but yet have so invested in my growth, kept the light burning, so to speak, in my heart.  So, anyway, I just was thinking through this, wanting to record and share in hopes that it might encourage others as much as it does me.  Now a bit of life beauty recorded…

Hearth Ridge Daily Diary Entry {4.17.17}

Amos and I discussed a few things. I need to learn to listen better and forgive quicker. Snuggling on the couch with my boys, we sang through “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, my 9 year old, running to find the book for my 2 year old to look through. Rain clouds rolled in, this hill we are on wears all the weather’s feelings on its sleeve and we can see what’s coming miles ahead of it.

I had to apologize to my 7 year old for snapping at her, and my 9 year old and I laughed about me dubbing him Sir Sam of Mathematics. He was having some negative feelings about hitting the numbers today. I hope I will have enough time to get through all the chapters for my book study tonight. Nothing like procrastination. Ironically, they are about forming good habits. Ha.

I’ve been thinking through my 7 year old’s upcoming birthday. It’s so interesting to really think about the people our children are, who they are becoming. A funny thing happened today, which I promptly shared on Instagram, I was reading from the Landmark Series, Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway, to my 12 year old son. My 5 year old was apparently listening because after we talked about the Labrador Sea and Greenland on the map, she came up and said, “Do you want me to send you back where you were…unemployed, in Greenland?” Oh my. Maybe we watch The Princess Bride movie too frequently. 🙂

The afternoon found us outside, fickle weather, sun peeking out. We blew bubbles and through the windy gusts, my older four played basketball. I showered and threw on a favorite comfy outfit of a black t-shirt, black maxi skirt, light brown sweater, my favorite old Red Converse Allstars, and don’t forget my favorite necklace, bearing words I need to remember daily. “Courage, dear heart.” by C.S. Lewis. At a restaurant before study, I sit sipping my drink, as I listen to that faint tune of beauty humming in the background of my life, soak in the words of a mentor, and thank God again for this blessed home life I live.

 

~

 

Happy Birthday, Gladys!

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Today marks Gladys Taber’s 118th (give or take a few years due to my Math skills) birthday. I originally was introduced to Mrs. Taber’s writings through the beautiful quotes in Susan Branch’s art and books. I am so glad I found her! I have been inspired and charmed ever since, appreciating her attitude of thankfulness for the simple moments in life. A life where beauty can be found anywhere, if (and this is a big if) we just S L O W down and notice it. Be still and know. The little hands of my baby boy squishing his hamburger with delight as he takes a bite, the stamp on a handwritten note, and the moon’s light casting a haunting glow over eventide. The way my husband’s hand rests on the back of my neck, our 12 year old, humming while he does the dishes, and the light hitting a stack of books just right. A gratefulness wells up in me, an astonishment over these gifts I have been given. It turns my heart towards my Savior, from whom all blessings flow. Thank you, Gladys for sharing your life with us. I think I will go make a cake in your honor.

 

~

March Reads

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A lovely online friend of mine was talking about her new plan for a rating system. I like it, however I haven’t figured out how to make the cool stars she has for her ratings, so I’m going to follow her system, but still use asterisks.  I will put a brief snippet after each title.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (****) This book was very sad in some ways, exploring the depths of an adult woman coming out of the foster care system. Victoria is a young, aimless, and I just can feel her loneliness. The one thing she has is her knowledge and love of flowers, specifically the Victorian lore of what certain flowers convey and the messages they send. I wouldn’t say I loved this book, but I give it a high rating for making me think and for the characters feeling real.

Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler (***) I probably give this book a 2 1/2 stars. I moved last summer to a large Amish area. I’ve always been interested in the Amish culture, but now being closer and getting to know them, I’ve grown in my desire to understand their beliefs.  Mr. Wagler conveyed the amount of fear one raised in the Amish Church has about leaving and I found his insights interesting.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking (***) The only reason I give this 3 stars is that some of it was sweet. However, this did not in anyway live up to the crazy hype it has here in America. Sheesh. I was expecting something earth-shattering the way everyone is going on about it! I should have known better.  A lot of it was just basic commonsense, a whole book about enjoying your sweaters, coffees, and friendship. Ha. I got this Hygge thing. 😉

Water from My Heart by Charles Martin – (*****) I really, really loved the theme of redemption in this title. Charlie Finn has an extremely rough life, but he has brains, which he uses as a high-end drug smuggler. Through a series of events, he ends up in Central America where consequences of his choices catch up to him. I love Martin’s characters, they feel real to me, at times the plot felt a *little* predictable, but overall, this story really touched me.

Every Riven Thing: Poems by Christian Wiman – (***) These poems were dark, depressing, and had some language in them. However, I appreciated that I could feel the author through them, his anguish and questions.

Le Road Trip: A Traveler’s Journal of Love and France by Vivian Swift – (***) This was a fun read, I felt the need for a little French culture after having stopped in Paris for a short visit last year. It reminds me in a way of Susan Branch, but with a harsher edge of sarcasm. I like Branch much better. The little sketches and Swift’s journal of the the French country side were interesting, descriptions of food yummy. I felt like she put quite a bit of French in her text, and while I love a little, I don’t speak it, so sometimes that was a little off-putting in an English book for some reason?

The Exact Same Moon: Fifty Acres and a Family by Jeanne Marie Laskas – (*****) This is one of my favorite reads of the month, maybe year, so far. I know some people don’t enjoy conversational style memoirs. In which the author talks to themselves and chats with the reader. I love them! Laskas does that in this lovely memoir and walks us through her life with her husband, their farm, animals, and neighbors. The beginning is a bit slow, but still beautiful as she is shocked and walks through a harsh, freak illness that hits her mother. The thoughts, feelings, and things she talks of sound so real and frank. The best part though, is as she shares her growing desire to be a mother, their thoughts and feelings through one round of IVF and eventual adoption from China. She writes so beautifully on the feelings, pain, and hope surrounding all of this…I just loved it. I hope to read more from this author.

The Glass Sentence and The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove (****) I know YA fantasy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it. These first two titles in this trilogy were good. The first title was a bit muddled on some points, but the second I enjoyed immensely. This story centers around a cartologer/explorer Shadrack Eli and his niece Sophia. The world is a mess after the Great Disruption, in which every country/continent shifted and now are each a different time period! Sophia’s parents are explorer’s and have been missing for some time now. This has time traveling, weird creatures, and shadowy secrets. I love most of all the maps. Exotic and magical maps. So fun! My oldest and I are reading this together, so it’s fun to chat about it. For the most part, I think Grove is a good writer, which is nice to find something well-written in this genre.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser (*****) I’ve been reading this FOREVER and finally finished it. It is a wonderful, in-depth look at writing and I love how Zinsser uses real life experiences and writing that he did as a way of teaching. This book basically ripped all my writing to shreds. So, I’m starting at the beginning, and humbly trying to learn more. I’m reading two other of Zinsser’s titles currently. This was on my shelf also, so one more attempt at reading all the beautiful books I own.

44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith (***) This book was interesting. It is about an apartment building and a few people in it. It basically had no plot, just a plodding through their lives in a gossipy way. I liked it, but I didn’t like it, if you know what I mean. It was originally written as a series of articles for a newspaper and you can see that a bit. I could not stand the main male character, Bruce, and the young lady Pat seemed so aimless and I felt a bit irritated with her. The most interesting character to me was a small boy Bertie who I wanted to snatch away from his CRAZY mother. I felt EXTREMELY bad for him.

Called to be Amish: My Journey from Head Majorette to the Old Order by Marlene C. Miller  (***) I liked this book much better that Mr. Wagler’s, because of the interest of a non-Amish woman joining the Amish Church. There are very few people who ever do that and stay. I really liked Mrs. Miller’s testimony of the love of Christ in her life, yet it intrigues me that she then turned to the Amish. I understand that it had something to do with the acceptance she felt from them after a rough childhood herself. In some ways, I can see the draw to the Amish, but there are so many things that concern me about their beliefs. We “English” as they call all non-Amish, think their outfits, ways are quaint and charming. In reality, it is a harsh and brutal way of life. It is like living similar to the pioneers, with the cold fear of going to hell if you mess up or leave the Church. I’m way over-simplifying this, but that seems to be some of what I’ve come to understand. I really loved Mrs. Miller’s sharing of life as a mom of 10 children (with no electricity or plumbing, mind you. ACK!)

O Come Ye Back to Ireland: Our First Year in County Clare by Niall Williams and Christine Breen (*****) This was a beautiful memoir of two New Yorkers, of Irish descent, deciding to pull up roots and move to Christine’s family cottage in West Ireland. The language and writing of this memoir was so beautiful and of course, the descriptions of Ireland are enough to swoon over. However, throughout this book, I appreciated the honesty and real feelings that Niall and Christine shared about the culture shock, loneliness, daily struggle to eek out a living on a old, run down farm and cottage. The shear difference between their lives in New York with all it’s convenience and speed versus the backbreaking labor for something as simple as heat for their cottage was astounding. The slow pace of the culture was unreal to them. Mr. Williams did a wonderful job sharing the ups/downs and real feelings. I was especially touched and sadden as they walked through the realization that they were unable to have children. I was elated to find out that there are three more books on their life at this time. I’m itching to start them.

Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Luke, John –  The Holy Bible (*****) I’m continuing my reading in my favorite Book of all times. The contrast between the Old and New is always so interesting and I just fell in love with the Book of John all over again.

What are you reading?

~

 

 

 

 

Daily Diary {March 30th}

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Gladys Taber was a memoirist that I truly enjoy. She wrote about her farm, Stillmeadow. I love entering her thoughts and reflections on home, her animals, family, cooking, and the daily doings on her farm. I wanted to capture a bit of her spirit here. I decided to do more of a list version today, Gladys wrote much more poetically. I love reading about people’s real, daily moments of life.  Each day flows differently and each family has their own unique rhythm. So a Gladys-inspired post:

5:30 am – I woke to wind and rain lashing windows and I remembered that I forgotten to get some laundry off my clothes line last night. Drat. I get up and make coffee, chatting with my sister on Messenger while I wait for it to brew. She is preparing to teach her class and we talk about a book we are starting to read together, Silence by Shusako Endo.

6:15 am – Coffee steaming from my lovely blackberry and leaf painted mug.  I sit down with my journal, Bible, and pen. Stephen the Martyr and the story of Samson today. My husband and  7 yo come down. I pack a lunch for my husband and read a new library book to my daughter. You Belong Here by M.H. Clark. It is simple, but it’s the illustrations that make it shine.

7:45 am – I pore more coffee and read in my devotionals these beautiful thoughts.

Calcutta to Cannon Beach

by Nathaniel Lee Hansen

I have His darkness – I have His pain, – I have the terrible longing for God.

-Mother Teresa

That at times this future saint

could not sense her Lord while sweating

words with pen read as a revelation

to me, disclosed that she was human, too.

God’s omnipresence still too far – boils, sores,

and scares too near, so faith meant treading.

the waters of theology’s raw mystery,

their paradox: belief is doubt

that we can know with certainty.

And so I cup the ocean with my hands,

though fingers leak, dry, then crack.

Yet for a moment, I can clutch the ocean

with my makeshift bowl, taste

the salt my everyday eyes cannot see.

from Between Midnight and Dawn

Complied by Sarah Arthur

pg 59-60

I also thought on this from Amy Carmichael in Thou Givest, They Gather this: “…one long look at Calvary does something for us that nothing else can do.” pg 72

8:00ish am – I help my 12 yo with his math and he reads to me for a bit. Everyone is getting up, happy chattering. A disagreement about what we are having for breakfast ensues and I wax poetic about the benefits of oatmeal five days a week. Har.  My son gets the oatmeal made and sets the table.

9:00 am – Hot, steaming oatmeal with your choice of brown sugar, peanut butter, raisins, and walnuts for breakfast. Prayers and we read a bit of poetry together.

9:32 am – Dishes being scrubbed, a child just said sweetly to me, “Mom, guess what? I’m cleaning my room.” Yay. There is hope.  5 yo is “reading” to the 2 yo and it is the cutest thing. I set up copywork for three children from their various poems and things they are working on.

9:33 am – Ok. I better get up. I am just sitting here at the desk staring at the screen.

10:00 am – 2yo and I watching a black-capped chickadee at the feeder. My 2 yo loves our dress up clothing, so he is usually wearing a hodge-podge outfit. We said the chickadee’s call together. “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee.” I talk about copywork and math with my 9yo. He and I do factor chains which are fun. I fold a basket of laundry and brace myself to go rescue stuff on the clothesline.

10:30 am – Freezing cold, my bare feet squished in the mud as I ran through the rain. I will have to rewash the things on the line. Grr.  I start another load in the basement washer, turning on the dryer again as well. My 7 yo comes to me as I step upstairs, an armful of cloth, asking if I can make her stuffed animal some clothing. Oh my. I mention a plan to get out my sewing machine in the afternoon and maybe we can try something. I am not a good seamstress, so that should be riveting. Ha. My 2 yo comes to me with a doll with a leg that has popped off. I put it in. The children take their piles of folded laundry to put away. I help 7 yo with copywork and pop doll leg on again. That doll may or may not need to be “retired”. I read two paragraphs of this post.  I notice a new list of podcasts to check out . A fight breaks out and we have tears about copywork. I have my daughter finish the word she is on and we will work on the rest tomorrow. Short lessons are beautiful, thank you, Miss Mason.

10:41 am – Huge disagreements to wade through, I ask my 5 yo to pick up the board books, and I set up a studied dictation lesson for my oldest. She is using “The Highway Man” by Alfred Noyes. She grabbed her books and heads to her room to work on some things. I eye the clock. Almost time for Elevenses. Maybe a bit of tea and a snack will squash the fighting. The sky is steel gray and the rain continues to trickle down. The friendly sound of the furnace kicking in is comforting. What should I serve for snack? Oops. 2 yo is unfolding the laundry.  How nice.

11: 41 am – Well, we had baby carrots and a piece of fruit for Elevenses. I didn’t make tea, my patience was wearing thin. I grabbed a few almonds. My 7yo and 9yo listened to me read them a nature lore story. They narrated it back to me. There was some more fighting and I may or may not of lost my temper a bit. Yikes.  I helped these two with reading lessons. 9yo and I enjoyed a selection in Seabird by Holling Clancy Holling. We talked about what Nantucket is and looked at the map. We found it fascinating that the whalers had to pour sea water on the ropes so they wouldn’t catch fire from the friction.  Now, I call the 12 yo down from his room where he and the 9 yo were playing Sheepshead.  Oh boy. Now they are wrestling. Sweet Lord Jesus, help me be patient. I have the 9 yo release some energy by picking up a stack of books and re – shelving them in our library. 12 yo and I learn about Archimedes, levers, he adds a drawing to his Science Journal, we read a bit of Sterling North’s Rascal, and work on reading together.

12:28 pm – Lunch is running late. Thank goodness my dear mother made us some chicken noodle soup yesterday. We are heating that up and adding the noodles to it. I will serve it with crackers. My oldest narrates her readings and I read her the dictation passage she studied.  I have a feeling that spring fever and a few other things are causing some of our grumpiness today. Thinking on it.  My son is practicing his drums upstairs and that reminds me I need to call on piano lessons for my oldest. My husband texted me something really nice. What a blessing.

1:11 pm – Lunch was delicious and is wrapping up. My oldest is putting my 2 yo down for a nap. We read the story of Naboth’s vineyard and Ahab, narrating it. The boys got out their action Bible and looked at some drawings of the story. We read the Proverbs for today and narrated it. My 9 yo has lunch clean up, so he is slowly working on that.  My oldest was hired to do some laundry for my father in law while he is on a trip, so she switched out the laundry for me and started washing his clothing. I have two baskets to fold.

1:29 pm – Egads. I forgot to start the dinner in the crockpot! I’m making chicken fajitas, or rather my version of chicken fajitas. I threw chicken, chopped onion, green pepper, and sweet peppers in together with some taco seasonings. Hopefully, the HIGH setting will have that ready in time. I’ll shred the chicken and add some cheese a little bit before I serve it with tortillas or chips. Time for another cup of coffee and a piece of dark chocolate.

2:50 pm – We finished our formal lessons for the day. The drawn narrations for Greek myths were fun to see. I also helped my 7 yo with math. We attempted to do some geography mapping of the east coast USA. I’m still learning how to do this myself. My 5 yo and 12 yo braved the rain and journeyed to the mailbox. We received book mail and my new issue of Writer’s Digest.

3:00 pm – I’m sitting here in a stupor. 5 yo is painting, 9 yo is drawing more, inspired by the Greek myth book, 7 yo and 12 yo being silly and telling stories, 13 yo is reading her book, and baby boy napping. Whew.  Maybe I should go dig out my sewing machine. It is almost time for the children to start their chores. They get an hour of media time if their chores and school work are done by 4:00 pm. Overall, they are very good about keeping track of what they need to do each day. Now 5 yo is cleaning up painting stuff and switching to Play Dough.

4:30 pm – I called on the piano lessons and left a message. The children finished their chores and media time is upon us. One is reading in their room. I am hiding…er, relaxing in my room with a stack of books. I peeked at Facebook, blah, and then Instagram. Now I’m going to slowly move through a few of the books.  Four children are in my room, asking various things. I talk with my 12 yo about Joan of Arc and we tried to define relics. I talk about hiring him for a big cleaning job. Oldest asked me if I started the last in a YA fantasy trilogy we are reading together. I point to all my book stacks and we laugh together. She asks if she can make smoothies for a snack and I say yes. 5 yo is bringing me a Play Dough creation to look at.

5:30 pm – I head downstairs and everyone is just enjoying various activities. Huge plastic army guy battle being set up. The chicken fajitas look good. I guess HIGH worked after all! 7 yo and I talk about the sewing, but we don’t end up doing it. I’m pretty bad at crafting with them. Mommy guilt moment. My unfolded laundry stares at me with its beady, shifty eyes.

6:00 pm – My hubby is home. We chat a bit about his day and I try to listen as I’m drawn to Endo’s Silence, trying to get my brain out of what I was reading. I’ve already read past my sister and I’s agree upon goal for this week. Wow. I finished a lovely memoir about a couple that moves from New York to West Ireland. It was so real and beautiful. I also was inspired and have a ton of post-its of ideas and thoughts from my rereading of The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater. My 7 yo drew a lovely picture of my husband and I with our house. I love you Dad and I love you Mom written in crayon. XOXOXOXO. Swoon.

7:00 pm – The candles are lit, I added cheese to the crockpot for a few minutes after shredding the chicken. The table is set with all the fajita fixings. We said a prayer for friends battling cancer, the children beg for a story from my hubby and he begins talking about Gideon. The flickering candle light bounces off shining eyes and voices chiming in as they talk about this story.

7:59 pm – The last bits of dinner being enjoyed, hubby relaxing on couch, and a few more moments together before we start preparing for rest. The 2yo has unrolled a whole roll of paper towel. Where’s this child’s mom? What a beautiful, busy day. I’m blessed. I’ll leave you with a bit of Gladys.

There is always one moment in a day when I think my heart will break. Such a moment I think all women have, and men too, when all the meaning of life seems distilled and caught up and you feel you can never, never bear to leave it. It may be when you turn and look down a blazing autumn road or it may be when you see your house under great ancient trees or it may be, in the city, when you look up at a towering apartment building and see one light and think “that is mine.” It may be any one of a number of things, according to the circumstances of your life. But there is a moment, and all the heartaches and sorrows of your life suddenly diminish and only the fine brave things stand out. You breathe sharp clean air, your eyes lift to the eternal wideness of the sky. Anybody has moments like this to store up, but some people are too busy adding up their frustrations to appreciate them. And yet all we need is an awareness of the beauty in life to make us richly content. My definition of happiness is just the ability to garner the perfect moments. 

Gladys Taber

Stillmeadow Daybook

pg 148

~

March Forth, Mother

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I snuggled him to my chest, sniffing that sweet baby smell in his hair. Oh my. I really do love these days of home keeping, mothering, and learning with my children. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments, which usually involve me shutting myself into my bedroom, with coffee and books or crying on my hubby’s shoulder. 🙂 I haven’t always loved this life and still struggle with discontent. However, for some reason, 14ish years into this gig, I’m beginning to really settle into this grove. I truly can say I LOVE it now. Yes, it’s hard, physically and mentally, but it’s also so beautiful. I’ve been trying to figure out what is the difference. I think the difference is that I’m not fighting it anymore. The idea that there is “something” out there later or after I’m finished mothering. Hah. Mothering doesn’t end. The idea I’m not doing anything worthwhile or meaningful is hogwash. I can be all that God has for me right here and now. The false idea that there is one way to mother and you must meet that standard or you get a big fat F. Nope. I have my strengths, I do my best, focusing on the things that are most important for me, my family, and my faith. I prioritize and then just relax down into them. Like a comfortable sweater on a cool spring day. Contrary to pretty much everyone else, I don’t want to be a woman who does it all. I want to do a few things WELL.  I put my hand to the plow, sow, and lay a feast of love, beauty, and a smooth-ish rhythm to our days. I trust by faith that the Lord will complete that which He has started in my children and I. So, I’m challenging myself to march forth, boldly and bravely. Enjoy each step fully, no reservations, and no fear. Motherhood is a beautiful gift.

~

Marriage in Four Seasons

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{for your listening pleasure}

Seasons of love flow and change, following the pattern of nature. I gaze now at the barren, white expanse of our Wisconsin fields. The black, craggy branches completely bare of leaves, creaking coldly in the wind. The icy stream cutting through the gray, dirty landscape. My marriage began one hot, sultry summer day, but I now think on the moments of bleakness. The misunderstandings, the cold shoulders, and staring at my husband as if he was from an alien planet. Keys locked in cars, bills forgotten, winter moments of life. Piles of snow reminiscent of the issues to be shoveled through in marriage.

A bit of green pushing up through the earth, surprises, birth of babies, new beginnings have sprung as spring in my marriage. We gazed amazed at our first home bought together, ignoring the ramshackle state, DIY piles, and hours of work that lay ahead. It didn’t matter because hope springs eternal. The beauty of a bouquet of flowers, a kind text, an encouraging word, and a hug have kept newness alive in our hearts. A common goal, faith, and sense of purpose, living our country life and raising a family have strengthened us in moments of weakness.

The plowing, sowing and the hours of weeding, pruning, and cultivating seem worth it for the harvest in a garden. Joy does indeed come in the morning. Summer sunlight breaking through. Back to that hot September day, when we pledged through all of life’s seasons we would stick together, we couldn’t have known truly what a sacrifice it would be to make that daily choice. A choice of wiping the sweat off of illness, financial pressures, and humid blasts of family issues. The delight yet exhaustion from new life, new jobs, the lack of sleep or rest.

Relationships are extremely hard work. They need constant attention. It’s easy to let the leaves of life to fall, shifting and slowly drifting down, not noticing the pile of offenses creeping ever taller. The autumn winds rattle and shake the windows of our family home, and one must notice these things before they become cracks in the foundation, warmth lost, a wisp in the cooling air.

I confess that I am unashamedly old-fashioned in my view of my marriage. I’m committed to it. No matter the winds that buffet it, no matter the hard rains we face, I choose to stick it out today, tomorrow, until death do us part. I believe anything beautiful and true takes hard work and sacrifice. Just look at the cathedrals, beautiful gardens, and greatest inventions. They all have one thing in common. A stark, shear, almost mad perseverance.

I often say harsh words to my husband, I lack compassion, or am neglectful, yet he still chooses to love me. He forgets, gets busy, and misunderstands. Yet, without us choosing to forgive, what good would we see built? I realize that there are extremely hard circumstances which many find themselves in and we can’t begin to understand the reasons so many relationships end. All I know is my own, and barely at that. I take it one moment, one sown seed at a time, believing that we will reap a continued harvest of a life of togetherness.

Yes, togetherness. That’s the word. Notice I didn’t say bliss or life of romance. The truth truly is that those are small bits that flash out now and again, but the real love comes in the ugly yet beautiful mundane. This is the stuff unwritten and outside the film frame. The cleaning up after sickness, the hot angry tears, the dropping everything to run that annoying errand, and the letting go. It’s the countless bags of garbage taken out, the meals and dishes, it’s the faithful punching the clock to pay bills.

These are the cyclical seasons of true romance. When you change those sheets, fix that door knob, or stretch out an arm to steady someone. It’s the darkness, smells, and frustrations that spell and create a true togetherness. The anticipation of the changing seasons is one my very favorite parts about where I live, and just maybe I can approach each and every one in marriage with gratitude. Gratitude that I’m being shaped and honed through this relationship in a way that none other can. So cheers to soon-to-be 15 years, and Lord-willing, many more.

~

 

 

 

 

Dear Friend

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‘Tis the season to be ruminating on love. Human love to me is chiefly tangible.It takes action, showing, doing, serving, and being much more than some little metaphoric chubby guy shooting people with arrows. One of my favorite expressions of love is in the form of old-fashioned letters sent through the post. There is something about a bit of beauty and friendship being shared in this slow, thoughtful way.

In the days of instant updates, tweets, and texts, receiving a handwritten note is priceless. For me, the whole process is a labor of love. Choosing the unique, beautiful cards or paper. “Geeking” out over all the pen choices, which ink flows the smoothest. I’m not even going to get started on decorating the envelopes, the vintage wax seals, and washi tape fever. Choosing the right postage stamps is pure agony. God forbid ones postage stamps not be pretty or unique. 🙂

I can’t tell you how much joy this art form, an almost lost one, can be. It’s a two-fold joy. One in the creating and sending and the other in anticipation and receiving back.  Currently, I have two sweet gals who share a bit of Pennsylvania country life with me. Karen and Rebecca graciously are my friends from afar, real friends, through the pages of a letter. Bonnie from North Carolina and Fleur from New Zealand, letters and hands and lives reaching across the miles. These four women and I sharing bits of art and the beauty of life through a tangible medium.

These letters become a bit like a treasure trove to me, stored, tied up with a bit of twine, or used as a book mark, or hung up, decorating my home. The connection with the past and present is very real in our letters, recalling the women of old, who this was their only way of communicating once or twice a year. Pen pals are in a way, an act of preserving a bit of the past. A bit of my history for future generations to mull over. What would we do without all the writings and letters of the past?

The wait for these written treasures makes them all the more worth while. The small, limited space and the amount of time spent writing and winging across the sky, make us more to the point, more about savoring and sharing little important parts of life. We share a bit deeper and notice the small things longer, dragging out a life time, appreciating singular instances of life over two letter writings. That slow living is very uncommon now and I am so glad to keep cultivating this habit of love and friendship.

~