Thursday, November 15, 2012


Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future...

There's definitely a Steve Miller Band soundtrack playing in the background of my life.

Our oldest is now eleven. 11. One-ty one. It looks old no matter how I write it or how they say it.

And let's not even talk about how thirty-six looks. The common consensus around here is that it looks gray and washed out and puffy.

But despite that, I am very happy with life as I know it. Almost my entire life (all 36 years...see? It doesn't look any younger that way) I've felt like a little girl waiting to grow up.

And all of the sudden, I'm watching my own offspring grow up around me. I find that I know how to plan meals, learning is actually occurring in a systematic, planned fashion, and children are thriving on more than my good intentions.

I feel like a grown-up.

There's nothing earth-shattering or especially insightful about any of this.

I just find that I am thinking less and less about *me* and more and more about *them*. I wonder how they will change the world and marvel at how they have restructured mine.

I feel so sorry for those who choose selfishness over children. I mean exactly that. There are those who choose to not have children in order to pursue their own selves.

This is stupid, and it is so misled. The greatest gift you can give yourself is the gift of parenthood. It challenges you, it changes you, it rewards you a hundredfold.

Sometimes the gifts are subtle. You realize that you have been changing diapers every day for the past 11+ years, and that it doesn't bother you. Score 1 for the adult (or "a dolt," as my children say it).

Sometimes the gifts are obvious. A spontaneous offer to rub your feet or a first drawing that looks like a potato with stick feet ("It's you, Mama!!").

Sometimes you realize that this: this welling up of emotion at Mama Potato-head is in itself a treasure, and there you have it. 

Sometimes the gifts seem to further your sanctification. Sometimes they seem to question it.

But make no mistake: these children are invaluable. Gifts themselves, they are priceless.

Promotion of self? I've done you nine better. You can go out the front door, and don't trip on the bikes on your way.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real


Flowers gathered and styled by our 4-yr. old son. Blinds styled by him, also.


The familial resemblance is astounding.


So when we asked the kids what their favorite part of our vacation was (Popham Beach? Reid State Park? Common Ground Country Fair? The eight lobsters your father and I bought, cooked, and then spent an hour and a half cracking?), their answer was twofold: 1) getting to bike-ride without parents, and 2) visiting the Hollens.

I agree. We just can't get enough of the Hollens (although I do have to forgive Kendra for ruining my self-consolation that no one actually styles their house as nicely as the magazines...). 


These were the toilets at the Common Ground Country Fair. We visited them twice. 

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Sometimes you just gotta jump in and do it.

When you're weeks (not months yet, I hope?) behind on posting, and the thoughts just pile on and you don't know where to begin and friends are even asking, "Are you pregnant?" because that's usually the reason you don't post for weeks on end (and the answer is NO!!!)...

Well. it's probably time to just write SOMETHING. Forget the grandiose stuff and just get it done already.


In September, we went to Maine. It was the vacation that almost didn't happen. Where do we go? How much time do we spend? Who will watch the chickens? How do we do it (falling apart camper, campground, rental house?)??

But in the end, we did it the only way we know how: last minute, and of course it's Maine, and let's hurry up and get there.

After, of course, we pass New York City.

Rental house won. And really, of course it did. We brought the bikes. Rental house on the corner of two dead end streets means lots of time for biking on vacant roads.

"Look! We found a playhouse!" the kids cried. Ethan told them that was our vacation home. They might have believed him if we hadn't spent the previous night in the real vacation home. So, no, it's not the vacation home. And no, it's not a playhouse and don't touch anything and mind you watch for stray hypodermic needles and broken glass.

And also, get away from there ASAP.

The coast. Oh, the coast.

::Swoon:: I am so smitten. Oh, and I think Ada's pretty cute, too.

A driftwood see-saw, fashioned by Papa. Pretty cool.

And, for today, I'll stop there. I'm fairly sure all these pictures have slowed down my mother-in-law's computer, and I can take only so much baby thigh chub. I just need to go s-q-u-e-e-z-e something.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Today I discovered...

that my 4-yr. old is a very competent vacuumer. This, coupled with the 5-and 7-yr. old's current love of washing and drying dishes, means that I can be freed up to gather stray items (and toddlers) and direct the others in window washing and baseboard scrubbing.

And that means the downstairs can be put to shape in less than an hour!

I assumed the dictator role this morning after school and told my girls that they were to spend 15 minutes in the kitchen with me or there would be no crafts or game-playing for the rest of their lives. So we got the pound of bacon cooked, the applesauce started (such delicious smells!), the iced tea made, the flour ground, and the general straightening done. Things feel good in here, especially after the extra work that a weekend away somehow brings.

Not that you don't need to give me 5 minutes' notice before you drop by, please note.

I'll need to change from my owl pajamas, and a shower would be good. 

My current five-year old, when she was not yet two!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Right this second...

My husband is off to pray with some friends. We've had supper, and the 2-yr. olds are chasing each other down the hall and back, down the hall and back. My 5-yr. old is rubbing my back, and the 10-, 8-, 7-, and 4-yr. olds are gathered on the couch, hunting through old Highlights magazines for hidden pictures. The baby is asleep in her crib.

Things are so very right this second.

I've been thinking a lot these last two weeks. We started school at the beginning of last week. I was dreading the start and the planning and the endless details involved in educating. I received the excellent advice to stop fretting the details and just make sure school happened, and that's exactly what I needed. I feel confident in our workload and secure in our choices.

We've been able to have our schoolwork done by noon each day, which has given us plenty of time to conquer the workload that a family our size dictates. The days are full, there's no denying...but it's a good full.

I cherish these days, I really do. I know these moments can be so evasive...some days will be hard and endless and inefficient. And those days make these days so sweet.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Annual Pep Talk

I've decided I'll take a minute, while the Littles are napping and the Bigs are watching "The A-Team," to switch the laundry, sip my latte, and sit down a minute. (Little-known fact, via Jon-Jon [4]: the B.A. in B.A. Baracus's name stands for "Bad AttiDUDE.")

 My life is so hard.

Lately, homeschooling has been on my mind. It's August, the Back to School sales abound, there are crayons and Post-it Notes and lunchboxes for sale. It's that time of year when I urgently phone my husband: "I need a lesson planner! With a grader thingy!" and start quoting "You've Got Mail" to my friend Kendra: "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils..."

I'm not positive she has even seen the movie (but pretty sure), but it doesn't matter. Every year we talk about sniffing scotch tape and I give the sharpened pencil quote.

It is so easy to join the frenzy surrounding school, even (or perhaps, especially) homeschool. Parents are talking about schedules and curricula and co-ops and soccer, and I'm still trying to figure out what grade you're in when you're ten years old, eleven come November.

Sometimes I'm not up for the fight and I just want to stomp off and forget it all.

But it won't do to hide under the kitchen table and suck my thumb in protest. That floor is filthy, and there's no room, anyway.

So I take a deep breath, and move on to the next thing. (You do realize that when I say "take a deep breath," I mean "stress out completely, clean obscure things [the laundry room cupboards?] in a panic, bark orders to multiple stunned, worthless children, and neglect dinner altogether until Ethan tells me everything will be just fine if I take a nap while he makes the world's best scrambled eggs," right?)

Deep breath.

And Ethan's right. Some rest and some food, and I'm ready for rational thinking.

And these are the rational thoughts I am now having: the most important things, the MOST important things, whether using a boxed curriculum or piecing one together myself or what have you or what have me...

are Consistency and Constancy.

Constancy and Consistency.

Being consistent and constant.

Or, to put it another way, constant and consistent.

Because what it all boils down to is this: In the end, learning must get done. It must. Just like the dishes and the diapers and the laundry. In order to survive in this world, in order to make it to the next, you must learn.

And anyway, you are learning, no matter what. You are learning what kinds of food you like and what you must dramatically gag over, how many chores you can neglect without anyone else caring enough to make you care, and exactly what looks Mama gives Papa that mean you should probably make yourself scarce before you have to deal with his serious face.

But, of course, this learning only gets you so far. Mostly it gets you straight to your bed, no dessert for you.

And the kind of learning that gets you out of your bed, out of this house, out into the world with two firm feet to stand on? That's the kind of learning I agonize over, comparing scopes and sequences and spreadsheets and graphs until I remember.

Constancy and Consistency.

Constancy: every day, you are learning. My job is to ensure that what you are learning is profitable for your soul, and that what isn't is removed. What we do under the guise of "SCHOOL" is fairly incidental.  I am to teach you diligently, when we sit at our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise (see Dt. 6:6-9). All of the time, you are learning. And all of the time, I am learning.

Miriam, three years ago
This is actually more freeing than burdensome. Seeing that you are already constantly learning, my job is to orchestrate and structure your environment in a way that is conducive to that learning.

Consistent: the way in which I teach you must be true to the Truth, and it must be done with the kind of regularity and priority that we give things true to the Truth.

BUT! It needn't be complicated. And? It probably SHOULDN'T be complicated.

I think we parent/teachers like to have graphs and spreadsheets and multi-page lesson plans so that we can show each other. Maybe the other parent will think, "Ah! That is a lot of writing! There are a lot of arrows. There are many steps to teach that. You must be very smart to use such a complicated system with your child. I wish I was that smart.  I think I will get some graphs and spreadsheets and multi-page lesson plans."

And really? That's pretty silly.

Aunt Becca (my BABY sister - GULP!) and Ada

So what do Constancy and Consistency mean for our homeschooling?

Well, it means everything we do contributes in one way or another, and it should contribute in a positive, appropriate manner.

It means we are purposeful in our living. We are careful with how we learn and how we practice what we learn.

If we feel that teaching you history is important (and it is), I should find a way to teach it that 1) I can do and 2) you can do.

And that's it! I needn't stress about you making timeline cards or cooking cakes in the shape of countries or singing songs that list all the Presidents and their dates of service. I mean, if we decide that we want to do that and can do that, that's fine. But let's call it what it is (fun) and leave it at that. 

(Well, you call it that. I'll call it a real drag.)

So as this new school year begins, I'll pull out the texts and divvy up the units into weeks and the weeks into days and the days into lessons.

But all of that is really secondary. Even Solomon called all of this a "striving after the wind" (see Ecclesiastes).

More important is that we strive for truth, real Truth, every day and in the right way.

Let them have their timeline cards and cakes and songs. I'll show you a Timeline book and a globe. The presidential singing?

Well, nobody likes a showoff anyway.

And the next time someone asks me what we're doing for school this year? I'll say, "Oh, a bit of this and a bit of that, and all of life."

Only, maybe I'll just say, "A bit of this and a bit of that."

Because no one likes a showoff.

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