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

~

Springtime Thoughts from Harold E. Kohn

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There exists a real temptation to be academic concerning nature, to spend one’s nature study hours among heavy natural history textbooks and journals, seeking what the most authoritative scientists have to say about those problems. But if that is done, one misses the most important aspect of nature study – the exposure of one’s eyes to beauty, the inhaling of evergreen-scented air, the feel of rough bark under one’s finger tips and the softness of a pine-needle-carpeted forest aisle under food and the soft caress of a lake breeze across one’s face. The well-balanced student of nature is one who recognizes the problems of his field of interest and works towards their solution, but in the meantime he experiences nature directly, living it, breathing it, rejoicing in it.

This balance between recognizing the problems of life and exploring its joys is a secret of achieving happiness. If we do not weigh the problems at all we become jittery activists or empty-headed sentimentalists, and if we consider only the problems we become burdened by discouragement and pessimism. The most satisfying attitude is to face the problem of a situation realistically while wringing from it the most possible good.

Thoughts Afield

Harold E. Kohn

pg 22-23

(emphasis mine)

~

 

 

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

~

Spring Ideas

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Spring thought about springing yesterday. Alas, today winter temperatures are back. However, I’m not letting that get me down. Here are some links and ideas for spring.

  1. Go on nature walk with children.  Unlike myself, really listen to what they say, it’s absolutely fascinating and enlightening.
  2.  Are you home educating? This post is encouraging to me. So many great quotes and thoughts – what we do today is a small investment for tomorrow. We don’t have to worry, we just keep sowing by faith.  Only a few short weeks till summer vacation, in other words.
  3.  Swoon and save shekels for these or these. Spring-y fashion.
  4.  Need a book idea for you or your child? Go dig through this list.
  5.  I can’t stop laughing – a mixture of faith, mothering, culture commentary, and offensive attitudes. I absolutely love this blog. If you are easily offended it’s probably not for you. I’m kind of offended half of the time myself. Ha. I love it.
  6.  I pre-ordered The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan because I’m going to be reading it along with a friend. Speaking of pre-order, did you see that Anne Bogel from my favorite podcast, What Should I Read Next?, wrote a book?  Oh, and are podcast titles italicized? The deep questions of life, folks.
  7.  Make me this cake – actually this is my kind of cake decorating. Bake a cake. Open packages of candy. Dump on cake. Voilà. I googled and C + P’d that cool French term, btw, because I always get it wrong.
  8. After we are done consuming that delicious Easter cake, we can then do this…killer.  Children and kettle bells don’t mix the best, so beware.
  9. Buy fresh flowers for your table. The hubs bought me some peach-y pink-y roses the other day and I automatically jump into a spring attitude when I gaze at them. My 2 yo and I have been sniffing them frequently.
  10. Hang all bedding and clothing on line, even if it is drizzling and 34 degrees. The calendar says March, for goodness sake.

 

~

Brain Dump

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My brain is swirling, turning, and murmuring at an even higher rate than usual which is saying something. As a wife, mother, and home educator, my brain is often full, but for some reason, I just can’t get the thing to shut up lately. I need somewhere to dump some of it and the blog is that place today. Bear with me.

  1. I hate cancer. Three local friends are battling it and watching them through it all has a way of making “important” things in my life seem stupid. Yes, I have little irritations and stuff, but I’ve been thinking about perspective and the attitude we have in life makes a HUGE difference. Mulling on this constantly and praying hard for these precious people.
  2. Spring hasn’t quite sprung here in the Upper Midwest, but it’s attempting too. I can’t tell you how excited this makes me as a mom and home educator. The children are outdoors! Hallelujah.
  3. I love writing and would like to publish my writing some day. Don’t you love how romantic that sounds? Do you know how unromantic the reality of this is? It’s extremely hard work. And that’s just the writing. I’m just barely getting my feet wet and it’s been a good, humbling process of growing for me. Also anything, even good things can become all-consuming. Thinking on how to balance my life as a wife, mom, home educator, and woman with my writing has been interesting. Also see Number #1 on this list. What truly matters in life?
  4. Our formal learning year is slowly coming to a close as we are in our third Term. We plan three Terms a year of 12 weeks each. I’ve learned so much this year and am looking forward to learning more and growing with my children. This has been a pretty good year for us, but I have some tweaks and things to research over our summer break. I’m so excited to attend a Charlotte Mason retreat with my oldest daughter this summer.
  5. I’m someone who can easy feel claustrophobic. That’s why I’m married and have six children. It’s been really interesting to attempt to stretch myself and grow in this area. I’ve been struggling with the balance between relationships with God, my family, and others with the time to recharge. Again ,back to that Number #1 on this list. Ahhhh. This pressure is good for me. Sanctification at it’s finest.
  6. We have a long drive to civilization from Hearth Ridge. I’ve been enjoying various podcasts. Do you listen to any favorites? I’m especially enjoying What Should I Read Next? I have a few others to try out soon.
  7. I’m extremely thankful for the surge in the last couple of years of Charlotte Mason community support online and retreats. However, lately, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of opinions, voices, and thoughts out there. I really love those that have finished out this journey in some way and so I’ve kind of pulled back to just focusing on those like Karen and Nancy. This doesn’t mean I don’t love hearing about CM home educating, no not at all, but at some point I have to just walk out the journey in my own home. Stop planning and absorbing and actually walk it out faithfully in small steps daily here. As I go, I can learn more, grow, and tweak it for my family. My prayer is that I be found faithful in this path we have chosen.
  8. I tend to read and eat emotionally when I’m drained. I’m really trying hard not to just pick up junk for my mind and body and it’s very hard to change bad habits. My book stack is HUGE, but I think I’m doing better finding light things to read that aren’t completely formulatic. I’m really looking forward to getting outside more for my long walks.
  9. I’m looking forward to a tentatively planned trip with my husband for our 15th anniversary this fall. I’ll share more as plans are firmed up.
  10. I was looking over my massive stack of journals and just amazed at how blessed I am. I really want to make an effort of intense, soul-deep gratitude and contentment. I need to lay aside my whiny irritations and thank God for His unbelievable faithfulness. Yes, I believe these are choices I make daily. Is my life perfect and carefree? Of course not. But it was never promised to be. However, in everything and through everything, God is WITH me and that I can never express enough gratitude.

~

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.

~

 

 

 

 

Winter Ideas

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{Good reading choice, boys. 🙂 }

We are slowly making it through the dreary, foggy winter days. We’ve had some glorious sunshine spilling through the bleak grays. The sun is a blessing, shooting out and then deep down into our souls. Here are a few of my favorite wintery things, currently.

  1. Listen to Malcolm Guite recite his poem.
  2. Take a hot shower while listening to Anne’s podcast. Bookish kindred spirits.
  3. Take winter walk with children, listening to their sweet thoughts. Make hot chocolate together when you get back.
  4. Read Amy’s lovely post on the new year. 
  5. Hunker down with a light read and a cup of coffee. Kate’s stories  are lovely or Charles has some good ones, too. These can be found through the public library.
  6. Create a nature journal, highlighting your favorite winter birds, creatures, or whatever suits you. I’m loving these journals. 
  7. Make scones and tea and listen to some haunting music.  She has a song on this particular CD that is inspired by The Highway Man by Alfred Noyes. Sad and thoughtful.
  8. Read poetry together. We love Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris.
  9. Peruse another’s  reading list for a new book. Go book shopping.
  10. Wash your bedding and snuggle down for a long winter’s nap.
  11. My children love LEGOS, blocks, and Schleich animals this time of year, especially.
  12. I’m looking forward to watching this very soon. 
  13. Put up copious amounts of twinkle lights. Ask my husband. He’ll verify my obsession. 😉
  14. Save up for a new mug or socks.
  15. Journal through your Bible. Memorize a Psalm.
  16. Move your comfy chair by your pellet stove. Wrap up in your favorite blanket. Read Gladys Taber.
  17. Bird watch. Google your favorite birds to hear their calls and watch videos on them. Bundle up and head outside to listen and observe.
  18. Make time to hang out with friends. For me, there is nothing like coffee with other mom friends.
  19. Go on a breakfast date with husband.
  20. Break out a map and plan a trip.
  21. Order free seed catalogs and dream.
  22. Susan Branch. She is so cheerful. 
  23. If you home educate your children, here is a lovely spot for inspiration.
  24. Go to local coffee shop and people watch.
  25. Make a big pot of soup and take some to someone you love. My mom is fantastic at this! ❤
  26. Practice your accents. 😉
  27. Go thrifting.
  28. Practice tying knots aka knitting. (ok, this was a joke about my knitting abilities.)
  29. Write real letters and post with pretty envelopes and stamps.
  30. Light a candle and shake fist at ice. Just kidding. {sorta}

What are you doing to celebrate the last months of winter? (or survive them? 🙂 )

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Seed Cake

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“Come along in, and have some tea!” he managed to say after taking a deep breath. 

“A little beer would suit me better, if it is all the same to you, my good sir,” said Balin with the white beard. “But I don’t mind some cake – seed-cake, if you have any.”

“Lots!” Bilbo found himself answering, to his own surprise; and he found himself scuttling off, too, to the cellar to fill a pint beer-mug, and then to a pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.”

pg 8 The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

 

I’ve been so inspired lately by these lovely tales of courage, friendship, and love. Something I needed is found between the lovely pages of these classics. It’s the focusing on something outside of oneself and the example of bravery on the perilous journey of life. It’s caring for others and good more than ones own comfort and security. Ouch. These titles are definitely high on my list for cold winter months. I was so inspired that we made a seed cake today for tea time in honor of our Hobbit friends. Literary feasting is so lovely and I don’t want to forget these little moments with my children.

 

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