Yarn Along : lists + front porch living 


It’s a rare quiet moment ‘round these parts and all the kiddos except my oldest is in bed. He is listening to an audiobook, I’ve been crocheting on my granny stripe blanket, and all is well.  This blanket.  I may need to always have one going.  It seriously is the most comforting thing to work on. It satisfies all my need for loud, lovely, riotous color,  and simple, repetitious handwork.

Seems like lately it’s rush, rush, rush to everything with everyone, along with the general eye-widening (read:glazed) overwhelm of child-teaching and child-training etc., and my brain is having a hard time keeping up. So, on Monday, when we already had a babysitter for an appointment, I took the opportunity to go to a coffee shop afterwards for a few hours and make lists of every last thing I could think of.  It was absolutely wonderful.  I reworked our chore list, finished some menu planning, solidified the babysitters we need for the month, made master/weekly/daily to-do lists, and other lists of whatever came to mind.  My mind feels much more free to actually work in any given moment rather than stumbling over all of the to-do’s and random info I’ve been storing in it.

This has been a work in progress, and I do believe it will become a habit I practice regularly.  The other week when struggling, I made a list, jotting down everything that came to mind.  I then divided it into four different categories: God’s Business, To Pray About, Thankful For, Take Action.

And so begins my journey with brain-dumping.  I’ve journaled for years, (as in: since 2nd grade, and yes, I still have every.last.one. of those old diaries and notebooks and journals) and that is a type of brain-dumping.  But this is more organized, and truly does help my frame of mind just to get everything out on paper.

I’m not organized by nature.  I love the idea.  But I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, which = generally not in a straight line. So when I made all my lists on Monday, and actually accomplished some things on them, I sort of couldn’t believe it.  Yay.

On another subject, we are winding down our school year.  We’re all ready to be done. I have things that need to happen around here (yes, they are on a list) besides teaching school, and everyone is ready to not be required to do math/copywork/etc. every day.   It sounds good to have a change of pace.

I got some watercolors the other day, and the girls absolutely love them. We’ve been doing scribble painting – just scribble a bunch on the paper, paint, and the end result looks like stained glass.  Such a cheap and lovely thing to do.

We’ve began our days several mornings lately on the front porch, with me and my coffee and devotions, and children joining me one by one as they get up.  There’s just nothing like the mornings, with its golden light making everything sparkle, and the sleepy, squinty morning-fresh faces all snuggled up in their blankies.  Kitty-holding, playing catch with our dear Trigger-dog, and bike riding.  It’s a good way to begin the day.

We’ve got a fresh batch of chickens, getting about 7-8 eggs a day, and the chicks the boys have raised will be laying soon too.  It’s lovely to have brown eggs and an abundance of them.  They hope to be selling them soon, as soon as we aren’t using everything that comes in.  Miss A’s favorite chore is to gather the eggs, and her and Miss E come in crowing with delight at how many! and oh look!  …Along with several egg misfortunes, due to the trauma of being carried in pockets or by a certain 4 year old who hasn’t quite grasped the concept of Egg Fragility.

It’s a good life we live.  I’m seeing more and more the need to press in to Jesus, to rely on Him for the most mundane things and believe Him. Believe He’s doing good things.  Believe He wants to help me order our days.  Asking Him what I need to do next.  Believing He’ll show me.  Believing He covers me and my days with grace, and shows me how to do the same with these lives He’s entrusted us with.  The picture is so much bigger than what I realize or even remember in the moment.  Soul-shaping, and responding in love, training and guiding, and learning to let go.  What utter sanctification this mothering journey is.  And what a good Father, who gives only good gifts, and knows what we need and how to get us where He has us going.


Nicole from Frontier Dreams


Blessed. Especially so since I wrote it all down.

I have been absent for far too long, but there just haven’t been many words I’ve wanted to write down.

Today was a hard day, full of meltdowns and parenting’s dirty work, me fake-smiling and breathing prayers for patience along with hope for things I can’t see. It’s good and right to exercise faith, but my flesh pulls and groans at the thought and the action of it.

Other days this week have been bright and happy, and filled with the stuff I dream of. Reading aloud and drawing pictures and learning, learning, learning all the good and true and lovely things. There were sleepovers and campfires and basketball games and beginning the adventures in Walter Farley’s Black Stallion, learning about geese and singing our hymn of the month: “When I Survey”.  There was even a date night thrown in the mix.  Chinese food and good catching-up conversations and a trip to Walmart where we went our separate ways (yes, this is normal on our date nights).

I find myself so weary and disappointed when there’s days like today, yet isn’t it also good when we have to choose to see the good?

Because there truly




of it. We can let our souls faint and be mired in the yuck of the moments, or we can direct our sights upward at the things not seen, along with the good that is there that we must choose to focus on.

So I choose to look up!


God is good.

We have come.so.far.

The relapse Mr. E is in is relatively mild, and he displays none of the usual uncomfortable symptoms.

Coffee is life. Especially when the sun is peeking over the mountains and I sip while it lights up our lawn, our bright green woods, and makes everything shine. Ah.

Cousins to play with and boyhood schemes and dreams are a joy.

Rainbow crochet blanket.

Miss E: “Mommy! It’s a BEAUTIFUL day!”

My dear, dear husband. All rights itself when he walks in each evening.

Surprise candy bars and sodas brought exuberant joy from a certain 12 and 10 yo that I couldn’t have predicted.

Miss A: “Mommy, when I grow up I’m gonna marry the Kingdom of God!”

80 degrees and thriving spring life outside.

Four fresh baby kitties and a purring, devoted mama cat.

Read alouds and the thrill of experiencing them together as a family. Most recently, Trumpet of the Swan, Black Stallion, Just David (by Eleanor Porter, author of Pollyanna), Pilgrim’s Progress, and plenty of other random picture books. Reading anchors our days.

(And for a tip? Keep a book in your car that’s only for longer car rides – where we go to church is 45 minutes from home, and we read this book when we drive anywhere that takes very long.)


There’s much more I could name. Honestly, it’s been good just to write down a few of these things and remind myself of the truth.

I’m blessed, and if you aren’t feeling very much so, go tell someone what good things come to mind. It might help you just as much as writing this blog post has helped me. 🙂


Wherein I ramble

I’ve been planning on posting for awhile, with side-by-side feelings that I had nothing to say, as well as feeling that I just wanted to write, no matter how random it ended up being.  So here goes.  All the randomness shall now commence. 

It’s a rare moment of quiet this afternoon, with the sun shining bright in the cold and the wind strong enough to be heard outside. My girls are sleeping and I made a pot of coffee.  Cup#1 beside me and it just feels so good to be drinking something warm on this chilly February day.

So much busy, yet there have been patches of rest in between as well.  I rearranged our room the other week, cleaning out, adding some twinkle lights above our headboard, changing where the rocking chair is, and placing my $3 walmart hyacinth bulb nearby to fragrance this fresh space.  My hyacinth is almost done, two beautiful purple blooms that are arching toward the floor, their best life spent, and it was all too short. 

I haven’t been knitting or crocheting at all for the last several weeks… something is going on with my shoulder/arm that makes it tingle/ache/get numb etc.  It doesn’t seem to be as bothered with writing, so I’ve been journaling more, reading more, and that is for sure a good thing.  I do miss it, but it’s been a good discipline to focus on other things.  I really hadn’t read much for myself for awhile, other than the Bible, and I just started “Freckles” by Gene Stratton Porter. A few pages in, (I’ve begun this before and somehow never appreciated it, mostly because I have always tended to read easier books that weren’t old.) and I’m captivated. 

So this month has been a time of reflection amid the going here and there and family get togethers.  God’s good, and He is faithful, and circumstances aren’t what brings me joy.  Not new news, but powerful to dwell on all the same. My soul is so much quieter than it’s ever been.  There is lots of opportunities to practice patience during my days here with school and children and their always-needs. I don’t get it right a lot of the time, but it’s getting easier to let things go and relax and know that God’s got it. Always.  

We are still reading “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch”, and a quote in this book keeps running through my mind. Nathaniel’s mother told him when he was small that she liked to look at the stars.. because  “when you look at the stars, it makes your own problems seem so much smaller.”  I love this thought.  I have had moments like this, when I realize that the Star-Maker is my Father.  And that nothing is a surprise to Him, nothing is worrying Him.  I just love how books do this.  Just at the right time, a quote that brings truth and wisdom, or teaches lessons that are so much better from story than lecture.

Today Miss A suggested that I make waffles, so I’m thinking waffles and sausage will be the supper.  Perhaps apple waffles? We’ll see what I have time for.  So many things I have on my to-do list, and I’m learning that it works a lot better to write it all down as much as possible.  My brain works much better in the moment if it isn’t cluttered up with trying to remember a lot of things.  So at the moment I have curriculum that needs to be researched and purchased for my 6th grader, as well as the next All About Reading book for Miss A – she is flying through learning her letters now, and I’m trying to keep up with her.  To see her begin to sound out words and read simple sentences is incredible.  

I’ve got plenty of spaces that need to be cleaned out, with the motivation of preparing for a yard sale here in a couple months.  A close friend of ours is putting her stuff in as well, as she is planning to move to Thailand for mission work in April.  Exciting changes for her, and we are thrilled to watch it play out before our eyes.  Even though goodbye will be hard….

I’m loving winter, and plan on making the absolute most of all the coziness that I can. More soup is on the horizon, and I’m slowly using the bananas I’ve thrown in my freezer over the past while to make different banana-y breads. So far I’ve made a chocolate chip banana bread (it was delicious.) and another basic banana nut bread. As long as it sort of resembles cake, or is good with butter on it, my family is happy. 

I’m taking a Habits e-course thing with Mystie Winckler from SimplyConvivial.com.  It is just so good.  Seed habits, not making huge changes, but little tiny things in the areas of prayer, health, reading, and a few others that I haven’t gotten to yet. I’m truly seeing the fruit of what happens when I add seriously small changes to my routine.  30 seconds of prayer, every time I make coffee. Doing crunches while I brush my teeth.  Changes so small they almost seem pointless.  But they grow, and foster the desire to make bigger changes once those small ones become habitual.  I highly recommend.

I hear the sound of waking children, so it’s time to get busy.   Happy Friday!

on faith and how to please God

There is something amazing about the power of Scripture.

Some days I read it and there isn’t anything that particularly jumps out at me, but there’s a solidness and comfort in simple saturation of God’s inspired Words.

Other days there are things that are so clear and meaningful it’s as though they were divinely highlighted.

For awhile now I have been intrigued and inspired by Hebrews 11 and its list of saints who were unflinching in their faith.
The ones who did the right thing even when it was hard. Who obeyed God in the face of ultimate grief. Who trusted God even when it didn’t seem that He was doing anything. Who were martyred and considered it a glorious privilege.

This is the kind of faith that I want. It’s the kind of faith that makes anything possible and everything able to be borne.

Persistent, determined faith.

I’ve read Hebrews 11:6 before. But this past week when reading these words again, I was impressed with something I hadn’t ever noticed.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 KJV

In the past I have read this and kind of got stuck in my own musings of how small my faith is, and how I’m probably barely, if at all, pleasing God because of that fact.

But this time something new was there for me.

First, in order to have a faith that pleases God there are two things this Scripture details as requirement; they have to do with His existence and His character.

1.) So first, we must believe He exists.

This isn’t that hard for me. Oh, I have had times of really wondering where God is in the midst of hardship. Or why He isn’t doing anything. But as a general rule I acknowledge that there is a God.

2.) The character part. We must believe that this God is the kind of God who rewards those who diligently seek Him.

This is what stopped me in my tracks.

Our God is a Rewarder-God. And not only is He so, we must believe Him to be this kind of God. As in, we can’t please God if our faith doesn’t accept Him as a God who loves to reward us for seeking His face and His heart.

This, I believe was the faith of Noah, the faith of Abraham, the faith of Sarah, the faith of the martyrs. They looked up to the heavens with knowing smiles and acknowledged that, “Yes. There is a God. An unseen, enthroned King. A Maker. An Authority that is unequaled in power and glory, deserving all our worship and praise.”   There. Is. A. God.

And then, a much more personal and heart-expanding truth: this God rewards.
He loves His children immensely. And those who choose diligent seeking, who choose to follow after Him with all their heart, who repent when they mess up… And those who refuse to worship their experience over His promises, these are the ones who please God with faith. They will experience unimaginable rewards. Both here on earth as well as in heaven. And I’m not talking necessarily about rewards you can touch or see (though that’s certainly within the realm of possibility), but rewards from the Spirit in this life that make our hard things possible to be viewed as a privilege.  And rewards in heaven (you know, the kind that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, what the Father has in store.).

This is Martyr Faith.

This is a faith that takes people through prisons, through disease, through fire and persecution.

This is the faith that propelled Abraham up a mountain on a God-ordained mission to kill the son he had waited decades to hold in his arms.
The Son of promise. The one who was the link to sons and grandsons and great-grandsons who would number greater than the stars.

But Abraham knew God was real. And He believed that God rewards those who seek Him. So he sought. He obeyed. He believed in this God so much that He was willing to obey what seemed like a senseless and horrible request.

How else would you do what Abraham did unless you truly believed that your God was capable of anything?


And everything.

And sure enough, God proved Himself faithful.

These two truths must be settled in our heart. We must choose them over and over.

Believing God is real.

Believing what kind of God He is. That His rewards are deep. Better than we can imagine. They are for us, here and now- the reward of patience in impossibility. The reward of being able to love instead of reject. The reward of His character and mind thriving inside these flesh-temples. They are Loving. Perfect. Beautiful. We have no concept of the pleasure He takes in us. And we can’t begin to imagine the ecstasy that will envelop us as we stand, perhaps shoulder to shoulder with martyrs and the ancient Faith Heroes, and hear His words ring out across heaven’s majesty:

“Well done. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. ….enter into the joy of your Lord.”

The joy of your Lord.

What an amazing privilege.


 Books + tea + knitting + soup = autumn coziness 

Well, full-on swing of life is in progress here. And I’m taking a breather from it this afternoon with my mug of tea sitting quite companiably beside me. {sip.} Ahh.  Creamy, sweet basic black tea.  Just the perfect thing for a (for the moment anyways) quiet afternoon.  Hang on.  I need a piece of Dove Dark Chocolate too.  Be right back.

Make that two. 

There really isn’t any way to catch up in writing form all that’s been going on.  And none of it has been overly monumental anyways. So this post will be somewhat of a random mishmash of thoughts, what’s happening, things I’m thinking about. 
>> I menu-planned this month. This, Dear Reader, has been a lifesaver.  Not only did I menu plan, but I actually took note of what hamburger I needed and (drumroll.) browned it ahead of time and put it in the freezer, as well as made a meatloaf for one of our meals this month.  Let me tell you.  This way of living is much preferrable to not knowing what we are having at 4:30 p.m.   The deal is, I really do want to be an organized person.  And I love the way it feels when I am.  But I just haven’t been able to be consistent about it.   Anyways, I’m slowly learning.  And the relief of having that out of the way for the month is lovely.  I also wrote down meal ideas for breakfast and lunch.  
>>Fall is amazing.  I’m always looking for yellow leaves by June.  This month, with all of it’s pumpkin, apple, chili and candle-burning goodness thrills me every year. I drive down the roads and just marvel at the bright pops of color.  So bring on colder weather, I’m loving every minute.  (And this last week has been warm and humid. Bleah.  But at least it doesn’t look like it when you look out the window.)
>>Books, books, books.  The power of reading out loud.  The power of literature to teach.  We learn geography (reading about Napoleon in Story of the World turned into finding out where Siberia was, where the two islands where that Napoleon was sent to, etc.). We learn to understand writing that was from 100 years ago by reading old books aloud and becoming familiar with it’s sentence structure and different use of words.  We read poetry, and our current favorite is A.A. Milne.  We are reading “Now We are Six”, and it’s just so funny.  It’s like a more formal version of Dr. Seuss.  My recent secret to a day gone south is reading aloud. And this year in school, I’m attempting to start our days with a read-aloud during breakfast.  Sometimes it’s the Children’s Story Bible.   Sometimes it’s Wisdom and the Miller’s.  Sometimes it’s Little House on the Prairie.  And sometimes, like this morning, it was a news article on the wildfires in California.  (More on that later.)    Lately, every afternoon we gather in and get cozy with paper, pencils, or whatever other thing is interesting to do with their hands, and I read aloud then too.  Or we listen to an audiobook.  Right now, in the afternoons we are going back and forth between Little House on the Prairie and Streams to the River, River to the Sea.  And today, when I was too tired to do anything, we listened to the Moffats.  I know I’ve got a picture overload in this post of everyone reading, but I just seriously can’t stop taking pictures of my children doing the very thing I love so well. 
>>Tea time is more and more a tradition in our mornings.  A pot of chai, sweetened and milky provides the perfect background for our Morning Time lately.  Sometimes we have a snack to go with it, sometimes not.  Something simple, like cheese cubes or buttered toast, sometimes a handful of nuts. And lately I’ve been thinking that something yummy like muffins would be fun. Somehow it just makes learning even more special to have tea to sip while we read poetry or a picture book.    
>>The fires in California… there are always wildfires in California. But this year, it is sweeping across a lot of residential areas in Santa Rosa, and Napa Valley areas.  One of my cousins lost his home, and my aunt and uncle nearly lost theirs.  I’m so thankful they are safe, though I know that the loss of a home and neighborhood is devastating, to say the least. 
>>I’ve been amazed, again, at the power of God in the throes of parenting.  The power of His Spirit to guide.  And this morning when things were tense, I was reminded that my primary work is not simply to administer consequences and lectures.  My most important work is to be the image of Christ to my children.  To show them exactly what kindness looks like.  To offer a cup of water to the child who has tested me the most.  To perhaps serve first the child who has displayed lots of selfishness.  And the victory is ours in every situation.  Already!  
>>I’ve been knitting on this creamy, delicious lace baby blanket for much of the summer, and I just began the edging.  Pattern is Gaia on Ravelry.  I’m using Tosh Merino Light yarn in Antler, and it’s just perfect.  My only yarny complaint is that there have been several places in one of the skeins where the yarn was frayed, and nearly broken.  But the feeling of this single-ply yarn, and it’s subtle sheen just makes for a wonderful knitting experience overall. Which, after all, is my favorite part of knitting. I’m not obsessive about finishing projects, but the feel of yarn through my fingers, the excitement of casting on a new project… it gets me every time.  This blanket has many prayers stitched into it…. it’s for a friend who has been praying for a long time for a babe of her very own to hold close.  I’m going to be sad to see this project come to an end, but I have a fun apple green baby sweater for another friend that is going to be cast on as soon as I get this blanket blocked. 
>>More about books… I’ve been voraciously reading all sorts of things homeschooling and mothering related.  One book I had, and hadn’t ever read is called “Mother” but Kathleen Norris.  Oh, this book is a gem.  It was written in the early 1900s, and was an easy read, a story of a young woman whose life was dramatically impacted by her faithful and loving mother.  The one quote that smote my heart and I that I knew was meant exactly for me was as follows:

“….She secretly regarded her children as marvelous treasures, even while she laughed down their youthful conceit and punished their naughtiness.”

You see, I have lost this all too easily.  I become obsessed with behavior and get annoyed with the constant-ness of irritations and annoyances, and I forget that I am surrounded by beautiful, marvelous treasures. No matter what they are doing or not doing, I must always keep in view that my children are treasures straight from our Father – and He always, always gives wisdom and grace to accomplish the things He has for us to do.  I need this wisdom and grace on a moment by moment basis, and was so thankful for this reminder of just how important my persepective and thoughts toward my children really is. 

Other books I’m reading, in little bits and pieces – Pocketful of Pinecones, by Karen Andreola, Susanna Wesley, by Charles Ludwig, A Charlotte Mason Education, by Catherine Levison, and I’m not sure what else. In other words, I’ve started several of these books and switch around regularly.  Hopefully I’ll get done eventually with all of them. =)
>>Soups.  I made this variation of a soup recipe I found online last week … 

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup (for crockpot)

-4 cups chicken broth 

-1 pint diced tomatoes

-2 T. Tomato paste

-1 lb. ground sausage

-1 clove fresh garlic, minced

-Basil, Oregano, Italian Seasoning, Garlic Salt to taste

-1 package of cheese tortellini (I accidentally got spinach cheese ravioli, this was good too.)

-1/2 cup of half and half

-1/3 block of cream cheese

—(I also added a pint of canned, blended yellow squash that made it extra thick and yummy, and didn’t change the flavor a bit!)

Place broth, tomatoes, paste, sausage, garlic and seasonings in crockpot and cook for 2-3 hours on high.  About 15-30 minutes before serving, turn to low and add cream cheese and half and half.  Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan!

I made this for some friends of mine for lunch last week and they loved it.  I had some left over, so I added more of everything to it, (including the squash the second time around) and we had it for supper with some pumpkin muffins.   Yum!!
Happy October, friends.  🙂

Linking up with Nicole from Frontier Dreams and 

On Spelling, September and the Eclipse Viewing Fail.





Ah, September.

When the culmination of the long – awaited autumn begins to come to pass.  The leaves are falling, the trees patch-worked with yellow, the blueberry bushes are glistening with fiery red among the summer green.

And on that poetic note, we have officially begun our school year. 

And this year, along with every year preceding in which we have homeschooled, I was beset with a familiar breed of anxiety.

What should we do this year?

Are they getting enough?

What about another curriculum?

THE SPELLING.  The spelling needs big help.  And fast.

This anxiety led me, as it always does, to yet more familiar googled paths.  These paths are well-worn.  I’ve researched Sequential Spelling, All About Spelling, Spelling Wisdom, Spelling Power, Rod & Staff Spelling, and what all the moms on Simply Charlotte Mason and the Well-Trained Mind Forums have to say about spelling.  I would decide to order one, then research a bit more and find out that what do you know? There is another family with whom that curriculum hasn’t worked well for.  So I’d begin to doubt, toss it around, and that led me to yet another spelling program that I needed to rabbit-hole down into.

Other familiar paths were My Father’s World, (love this curriculum, and I’ve researched it every August for the past 5 summers.) various reading curriculums, (because – kindergartener this year!)

In the middle of all of this, I had decided we needed more routine in our days, so I began a non-school-ish routine of school.  This involved lots of reading out loud, sometimes having the boys do a bit of copywork on subjects interesting to them, and more reading out loud.  History, Little House on the Prairie, picture books, you name it.  Audio books, too.

Suddenly…. I realized….

This is how we homeschool.

Yes, we officially “began” two weeks ago.  But before that, we were already doing school.

Before we “started school”, we were doing things like researching crawdads, finding amazing butterflies to pin on our makeshift insect board, and finding inchworms that matched the deep violet cosmo it was crawling on.

The boys began catching all manner of creek creatures after having overnight company a few weeks ago. (Dear friends of ours from CA who doted on our kiddos so much that I’m pretty sure the two days they spent here will not be soon forgotten.)  Thomas and Michelle arrived on a Wednesday afternoon, deposited their clothes in the guest room, and Thomas asked our boys what they liked to do best.

When they told him they liked to play outside, he said “Well, let’s go outside, then!”

Within an hour or two, he had helped them make a crawdad-catching trap down at the creek, along with a spear.  They caught crawdads, and had the most absolute time of their lives.

All of this resulted in a two-crawdad boil, which they ate with Cajun butter.  Crawdads are not very big.  Just saying. 

Since then, we have a clear plastic Rubbermaid drawer on our front porch (it’s beautiful front porch decor at it’s best, let me tell ya) and it’s filled with rocks (“so the crawdads have something to crawl under, Mommy!”) and minnows and whirligig beetles (which are seriously so much fun to watch) and the occasional lettuce leaf bits for food.

So they have drawn their finds and we’ve read about crawdads.  Science.  No curriculum.  Whaddya know.

Did I mention the baby mouse that wasn’t completely formed (I don’t even know what to call it.  Or why it ended up on our front porch. Possibly Socks the cat could tell us.) that was brought in this week? Yes, in.  As in, inside.  And it’s been in a jar. Green beans, anyone? Oh, gross. Seriously.  This is the kind of science that you just can’t manufacture.

I have a notebook on the table for them to write down questions they have and we google them. (There’s some doozies in there, like “Who was the most famous person in 1800?”)

We randomly decided to learn about Bach, and have been listening to some of his cello suites.  (I feel so classical-musically accomplished that I even know now that Bach had anything to do with cellos or suites.  But they happen to be some of my favorite music now.)  We watched a mini biography, read some more about him, and sketched a picture of him to put on our history timeline.

(Read, we sketched it to put on because it’s not on yet ….because after having these timeline books for three (?) years now, and I finally put all the dates in the little corners…. I realized that I had spent a whole century or something with dates missing from the book.  As in, one two page spread said 1700-1710 and the next said 1720-1730.   And I’m pretty sure there are really important things that happened between 1710 and 1720.  And between 1730 and 1740. I was seriously annoyed.)

So we did all those sorts of things.  And it wasn’t really school.  You know? But it was. 

They are delighting in life. 

In crawdads and whirligig beetles.  In poetry that we laugh like crazy about. In Pa and Ma and Thomas Jefferson and Sacagawea and in how long the Great Wall of China is. 

Although, trust me, not every day feels delightful.  The “first actual day” of school I got the brainy idea to take pictures.  It was going to be so great.  Pictures of each of them, and I was only wishing I had cute little blackboards for them to hold up saying which grade they were in.  They cooperated for the most part,  amidst “go over there, it’s better lighting!”  “Nooooooo we can’t this is right where there used to be a HUGE YELLOW JACKET NEST!!!!”  “No, no, (to miss E) you can’t run in circles, stand STILL.  BOYS.  Stop tickling/sticking your tongues out/wrestling.”    Eldest rolls his eyes at his extremely uncooperative and immature siblings.  Youngest runs circles.  Second oldest flops on the ground.  Second youngest chases a kitty she must hold for the picture.

It was great fun, let me tell you. 

And we won’t even talk about the day of the eclipse.  Other than the clouds + several behavioral malfunctions + a weary mama + no coveted cardboard glasses so we made some sort of ramshackle cereal box projector = eclipse viewing fail.  There were a couple people in the house who thought they probably had missed out on The Single Most Important Event in History.  Thankfully the disappointment was curbed by finding several YouTube videos.  Not the same, but it helped.

So here we are, two weeks in, and I haven’t ordered a spelling curriculum yet.  I might – I’m leaning towards Spelling Power or Sequential Spelling.   But we have been doing dictation – (where you take a passage, they study any words they are unsure of, and I dictate it to them, and they write it out, and then practice any words they miss.)

I couldn’t believe my eyes when one of them wrote out a large three stanza poem on George Washington yesterday.  And missed only three words.   And I realized that he is getting spelling, by reading a lot, by continuous copywork, and by growing up.

We’ve had more of a routine since we “started” and they’ve been settling back into multiplication, fractions, writing, journaling, sketching, and by now we have finished Little House in the Big Woods.

I’m feeling much more ok with where we are and with what we are doing.  It’s hard to believe we are on year 6 of homeschooling this year… I still feel very much like a newbie.  But my kiddos are growing up, and my 5 year old who was a baby one summer not so long ago is learning her letters and sounds, and writing every new letter she learns (mostly combinations of A’s and N’s).   And my biggest is almost 12, just one year away from a teenager.  I can’t believe how fast time is going, and I can’t believe I’m in my mid-30’s either.

I don’t want to waste a minute of these fleeting days.  My babies are growing up.

I read a blog post written by a mother whose youngest is 21 …that she wishes she could tell her younger self just how short these years would be.  That her children’s years as children are much fewer than their years as adults.  I began to realize that the next ten years will make me 44, my oldest 22, and my youngest 13.   I want to make the most of each year, each month, each moment.

Somehow, August seems to do it to me every year.  The hand-sweaty panic of how can I do this and what are we doing and what about all the stuff we aren’t doing.

But September’s here now, bringing with it promise and hope and perspective.

And I’m excited to dive into another year of this homeschool journey.  It just might be the best yet. 



The air conditioning is doing its job nicely.

So is the washing machine.

I took a nap this afternoon, and I am thinking I could probably use another…  It is HOT and humid outside and the dog days of summer are officially here.  (Why is it called dog days?  Hmm.  I should google that.).

My brain sort of feels like it’s been on autopilot.. after a few weeks of busy-ness and company, (my mom and dad were here for a week and my brother’s family for the last night they were here.) somehow all I can think about is vacation.

I don’t know how all that will work out. We have talked about getting away just the two of us, and also the possibility of doing something for several days with just our family.

Regardless of what happens, this prevailing thought of vacation keeps coming to mind, and I had to wonder about how to have a vacation when you aren’t on vacation.

Sometimes it’s time to actually go away, to another place, and let the everyday cares be set aside for awhile.

But what I believe my soul is mostly longing for – is rest.

Life has been emotionally and mentally draining for awhile. There are the Big Decisions that must be talked about and made, the Raising of the Children to be done, and yeah. That about encompasses the whole of what has been draining at our house.

Regardless, there isn’t a realistic way to just “go on vacation” in the middle of it all. Maybe we will.  Maybe we won’t. Maybe it won’t be as quickly as I want. Maybe it won’t be at all, this summer.

But, Rest.


Perspective shift.

Focus rearrangement.

How to do this in the middle of everyday life? Because this is what I have needed. Truly needed. More than I have needed an actual getting away.

There is a way to walk through the mundane and the chaotic with grace and joy.  I do not need a vacation to live life well.

But soul rest requires a slowing of the mind. It requires a deep breath. And what I have needed is the reminder that communion with Jesus – intentional, alone time with my Saviour – is where my soul will find its rest.

So in these past few weeks (amid a broken arm/ER visit), a birthday party for a newly minted 5 year old, company, green beans, blueberries to pick and freeze, etc…) there are a few things that I have begun doing to take a deep breath. To stop for a moment and lay aside the important for the better.

-I started a new Bible Study. One I have had for years, (as in, I did the first lesson about 9-11 years ago? Before we had children.) and I am so, so glad I didn’t finish it then.  Because it’s what I needed now.

-I have made coffee in the afternoons sometimes, just because I have some time alone then, and because, well, coffee is good. Need I say more?

-I pulled my spinning wheel out, and started spinning again.  This actually happened today, on the front porch, in some lovely, you-could-almost-taste-fall-coming weather.  The pillowy softness of wool slipping through my fingers, making yarn, and the rhythm of my feet pressing the treadle… it’s good stuff.  By the way. I started writing this post on a day where it actually was hot. Today was a welcome respite.

-I have slept in several mornings.  Not a habit I want to get into- but for a few mornings it’s what I needed to do.

-Some afternoons, or when I have had a moment to myself, I have been practicing praying aloud, rather than just in my head, and communing with Jesus. Thanking Him and worshiping Him… not just asking Him for things, or for help.. but adoring Him and thanking Him for all He is doing. This goes excellently with coffee.

-I began “Little House on the Prairie” with everyone after lunch. The girls have their blankets that they sit on, they draw or do some sort of quiet-ish activity (read: Miss E needed reminding of her need to stay on blanket and be quiet over.  And over. And over. Don’t misunderstand. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses.)  But on a whole, it was good.  Ma, Pa, Mary and Laura and baby Carrie, Jack the brindle bulldog, butchering time, Laura’s corncob doll, and little pint of cider half drunk up… this series really is one of the very best. Also, the fact that this particular book is the same exact copy that was read to me as a child adds to the experience.

-Reminding myself that God is happy with me. Genuinely, truly delighting in me. That He is my King.  I am His own. And He not only loves me perfectly, but He is happy with me.  He likes me.  At our women’s Bible study the other week, my dear friend Sara reminded us of this truth.  And it’s been reverberating in my mind.  He isn’t fazed by our poor choices, He isn’t forlorn and sad with us.  He delights in us, He is glad for our joy in Him, and He is happy with us, just like we are happy with our own children. Only  So. Much. More.  He delights to forgive us. Delights when we come to Him. Delights in us because we are His.

I needed the reminders of these truths to change my perspective.  So my soul could be at rest again. I needed to remember the importance and the restorative power (another blog post on this soon) of reading out loud to everyone.  I needed to remember that sleep is a priority.  I needed to remember, simply, who I am and that I’m loved.

Vacations are lovely. But the soul needs to rest in its God more than it needs anything else.

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him”  Psalm 62:5 (KJV)

Wait, in this verse, means to be still.  To grow silent, and cease from activity.

So, soul, stop.  Stop your activity.  Grow silent. Wait upon your God.

Soul, take a vacation.

Stop striving.

Soul, sit a bit, take a breath, wait on God, get un-tilted from your skewed perspective.  Let the rush of life stop, make time to savor, to wait, to slow.

Whisper thanks to Him, hug those little people hard, and definitely make some coffee in the afternoon.

Or come over to my house, because I may have some already made.

Summer at our House









It’s officially summer.

And I am blogging from my phone while I sit at the park that is just around the corner of my house. We brought the cousins along today, and the boys are making up all manner of variations of “jackpot”.  I’m pretty sure the rule-making takes up more time than the game?!

Its a perfect summer day. A little humid, a little overcast, but lovely to relax in my lawnchair and knit and blog.

We have a new puppy, and his name is Trigger. He is the cutest thing ever, other than the fact that the chewing on all manner of things has commenced. I’m trying not to think about it. And what is likely to get destroyed in the process.

My boys and man planted a row of cosmos in our garden this year, and I couldn’t resist going out Saturday and picking the first few blooms. A couple of them were pretty ragged, but to think! Fresh wildflowers from my own garden on my counter! I don’t know what is going on with my obsession for flowers and just all of nature’s beauty recently. I have always loved our mountains here, but lately it seems that everywhere I look, the landscape explodes with beauty. The way the light lands in a stream through the window, vibrant purple cosmos, fresh dill’s smell and it’s soft, bright green needle-leaves. The way the mountains rise up blue toward the sky, and the way the trees are leafy and blow lazily in the breeze. I’ve never been so aware of it all.

Every morning I have been taking my coffee, Bible and journal to our front porch. I watch the sun light up the field and paint it golden; the drab, tan leftover wheat turned shining and bright with the sun’s brushstrokes.  The birds are already singing when I walk out, tiptoeing so as not to wake any sleeping munchkins… and it somehow seems that God Himself has orchestrated the bird’s chorus and beauty in my front yard just for me. A “good morning”, of sorts.

So I whisper “good morning” back, and smile at the truth reminding me that all this Creation, all this I see wouldn’t have to be there. But it was created for me to enjoy. It was made with me in mind. It’s almost too much to comprehend. The love He has for us, shouting out from Creation, telling us in the most glorious way that He longs for us to see Him clear, to know Him well, to see just how good He is.

We went to an antique tractor (thing? Day? I don’t know.)  at a recreation park near here last Saturday.  There was lots of stuff there.  Blacksmithing.  A chainsawing competition. Homemade doughnuts and pork BBQ sandwiches.  And an antique tractor pull.  There were auctioneers and hit and miss engines and all manner of tractors and farmers and old men (and young) in overalls and an atmosphere of festivity.  There was a wood turning demonstration and the ones doing so were kindly making tiny little tops and tiny little containers for the kids watching.  And the doughnuts.  Did I mention the doughnuts? Oh, oh, oh.  The doughnuts. Words kind of fail.  But I’ll try.  Huge, hot, glazed and poofy.  I had one, and it was amazing.  Hot and fresh.  Then later at home I had another, cold, and it was amazing in a whole different way.  Slightly deflated, a bit crunchy and the solidfied glaze crumbling instead of oozing, the you-better-lean-over-your-plate kind of thing.  Sheer doughnut bliss.  

But I digress.  Back to tractors.  There was a tractor pull, and we got all excited to see which one was going to go the furthest, pulling the weight down the run.  I had my eyes set on the gorgeous red Farmalls, (I know next to nothing about tractors.  But I really think the Farmall tractors are so pretty.)  But there was a shiny Oliver and the John Deeres’ did well too.  See, I even know the names.  

It was a good day.  Tired and sweaty children, happy and full of all the sights and tastes and sounds of the day.  

I’ve been knitting a beautiful lace shawl lately. The pattern is easy so far, and the lace (read: exciting part) is just beginning. It’s been a thoughtful knit.  A knit that while mindless, has also been a time for me to pray for the friend who will receive it.  I love to take the time to think about the person who is the recipient of my knitting, hoping for them, praying for them, thinking of them, and desiring that they would be filled to the brim so much with truth, and Jesus, and joy through whatever He allows.  Sometimes it’s hard things.  Sometimes it’s happy things.  But regardless… that no matter what, that they/we wouldnt ever be shaken from the truth that He sees us and knows us and is for us.

I’ve also been making Greek yogurt lately.  Ahhh.  So yummy.  With berries, stevia, and maple flavoring for me.  With vanilla, raspberry jam or fruit and a drizzle or three of honey for the kiddos.  I’m always amazed at how much more mild it is than store-bought yogurt.  Eating it plain isn’t what I do, but it’s not inconceivable with the way this stuff tastes. I really need to make granola now. 

And speaking of berries, we have been getting some black raspberries from our wild bushes.  Mr. J picked about a cup and wanted a pie, and so I combined the rest of the blackberries I had in the fridge, along with some of last year’s blueberries from the freezer, and voila! Triple berry cream pie!  It did not last long enough, but oh, it sure did taste good with coffee that evening.

It’s another day now, and it was yesterday when I was at the park phone-blogging.  My house is cool and it’s overcast while the quiet of afternoon napping and boys reading the Mandie series I collected every birthday and Christmas when I was their age. I love when they love books.  It brings back so many memories, and it also reminds me of the bliss of reading a good books.  I haven’t been doing much of that lately, what with knitting and other things that occupy my attention while I’m sitting down.  Although.  There is a book I got the other day on my Kindle that I’ve been perusing in my spare moments.  Actually I’ve been devouring it.  Have implemented several ideas and we are seeing some absolutely lovely results.   Oh, trust me.  The getting there isn’t always lovely.  But bit by bit, sometimes in small ways, and other things that are huge and amazing, some of the things that we know would have been diagnosed with all sorts of capital letter combinations are disappearing.  

That being said, I must add a disclaimer.  I am a firm believer that the Lord is the number one Leader and Guider of parental instruction.  I believe also that when we ask His guidance, He does provide it.  And I’m ever so grateful He has done so in the form of this particular author.   It’s good, old-fashioned advice that cuts through so much of the physcobabble of today’s parenting and adoption experts.   Best of all, it confirms much of what I’ve already believed at the back of my mind, the things I’ve felt to be true for a long time.  And when something confirms, it is ….really confirming. 

How’s that for profound? = )

My afternoon coffee is nearly drained, and the munchkins are up.  There is a puppy-training session going on on the front porch and I’ve got a bucket of green beans to snap.  Yay for fresh green beans, fresh squash, and leftover chicken and rice cassserole for supper!

Whatever May Come + Mother’s Day Reflections

Take a listen.  It’s highly recommended.

10,000 Reasons
Yesterday was  Mother’s Day.

And I have a lovely purple orchid gracing the antique chest in front of our window.  There were wide grins and excited hopping around and lots of happy shrieking as one of my children brought it in this morning.  We had a potluck at church today and in honor of Mother’s Day, the men brought the food.  

There was a lot of meat, unsurprisingly.

The smoked sausage biscuits Melvin made were superb, and I’m pretty sure there weren’t any left. 

There was also a lot of dessert.  I even had to wonder if my brother-in-law got on Pinterest to find the gorgeous creation he made that was brownies topped with fresh strawberries and bananas and drizzled with a chocolate sauce. It was amazing.  Definitely Pinterest worthy. 

I had a lovely nap in the afternoon and that was also amazing. 
But if I’m completely honest, this has been a hard Mother’s Day.

I am in the middle of one of the most sanctifying journies I’ve ever known.  This past month has been so, very, very hard.  I won’t go into detail because that’s not important.  What I’m walking through is something that so many mamas have seen, and a variation of it has been known by probably every mother out there.  
When your child is stuck in a place that is unexplainably, constantly, not good.  When they refuse to respond.  When they are stuck on themselves and no one else. Picking fights, angry, frustrated, and underneath it all, a deep, deep hurt that seems impossible. And I know there is trauma and the fact that he didn’t get to be at our house and get snuggled and loved on from his first moments.  I know there were things seen and experienced that no child ever should.  I grieve that I didn’t get to carry him in my womb, and rub the skin on the stomach that shielded him underneath.  His heart didn’t beat beside mine, and my laboring for him is an excruciating journey that wasn’t over in 24 hours.  

Yet isn’t this what all mothers know?  That we labor in our hearts for our children.  We never stop knowing that there is so much we don’t know.  That we can’t fix.  

No matter how they come or what they have seen, their sin nature is the same

It’s just like mine, and its not overly complicated.  

We all need  healing, and my son is no different and no worse.  He is walking a journey I wish he wasn’t choosing/didn’t have to walk, yet at the same time knowing without a shadow of a doubt that my Good Father is using and weaving and orchestrating.  I know that I know that I know that God doesn’t allow pain and awful without being able to use it for something so much more beautiful than I could ask or imagine.  So much abundantly above anything I could think of.  All the poor choices and yucky circumstances our God is more than able to redeem.

So as hard as this Day for Mama’s has been, I think it’s also the reality of what is.  What is life, sometimes, what are humans, what happens when we let go of the fairy tale  in exchange for abundance of heart and mind and soul that only our King can fill us with. 

I am a mother, given grace by a kind Creator, parenting children that I am being used to help mold, yet I’m only a vessel.  I’m not the one who is ultimately responsible for my children’s choices, and I don’t need to try to figure out how to parent and strive and stress over the details of what has been and what might be. My job is to press hard into Jesus and thank Him for the wisdom and grace and ideas He provides, every minute, and love my children with the love that only He could give in the face of a lot of chaos and lashing out.  I don’t need another parenting book (though many have lots of good thoughts), I need the fresh and reviving Word of God.  And it makes me giddy to think of the possibility and hope that comes from pressing into a God that knows my child so much better than I do, resting in the fact that He sees all and knows all and does all things well. 

A dear friend sent me this verse this morning –

For God has not given us the spirit of fear,  but of power and love and a sound mind.”

Oh, friends.  Dear mamas.  I may be walking a hard journey.  And my mind has went to so many places that I have to immediately take captive.  Because this.  This truth. 

ANY time there is a whiff of fear?  It’s not ever from God.  Ever.  Ever.  Ever.  

I used to fear all the time what my children would become.  All the time.  My mind was taken captive by the future I nearly thought was inevitable.  And trust me, it wasn’t good.  

No longer.  When fear comes to my mind, I am learning to thank God for what He is doing.  For how He is working in beautiful ways I can’t see yet.  Every time the awful thing happens or the unthinkable enters my mind, I’m thanking Him for the beauty He brings from ashes and the deep love that He has for me and my littles. I thank Him for His love and care and that everywhere I am or am not, He is.  I thank Him that there’s nothing He will allow to be wasted.

And you know what? As much as parts of this journey aren’t something I would choose – I’m finding out that the refining process and the sanctifying work that God is doing in my heart is so much preferrable to the bland and hopeless and fear-filled existences from before.  It may never have been this bad before in our house, but this is a beautiful place to be. I’m not praying that it would go away for my sake, but that He would give me strength and grow me like crazy and that I would SHINE, along with praying that my son would be healed and choose life.

If God can do this work in me, when I’ve long been so defeated as a mama, I know without a shadow of a doubt that He can do the same for my dear child. 

He is the God of redemption, 

the God of healing, 

the God that has the power to raise His Son and our hearts from death and destruction. 

If, in fact, this is the God we serve, let’s stop with the fretting and the exhausted striving.  If He truly is this God, and we establish that in our minds, then may we not lessen the impact of who He is by allowing the adversary to fill us with fears of who He isn’t. The one who kills, steals, and destroys is certainly not our God.  But the lies, oh, they try to swoop in and steal our joy and our hope with thoughts of a God who might not come through for us.

Let us let Him fill us with impossible hope.  Amazing joy.  May we get alone with HIm and begin to, like Abraham, 

believe against hope.  

Let’s take an honest look at what we see, and stop walking by sight. Walking by faith means we take into account what we have not observed yet, and we begin to thank God for the impossible and the exciting and the wonderful that He is doing and will do.  And also, for the hard journey.  And that He makes it possible to have a grin and know truth and pray hope and grow like crazy in the thorny unsee-able places. 

Faith, not sight. 

And for any mamas who read this and identify with my story, will you join me?  Let’s raise our hands and thank our Father for all He gives.  And for all He does.  And that He isn’t the author of fear, but that He has given us the spirit of power.  Of love.  And of a sound mind in the face of everything.  Mothers who mother by God’s power, with His love, and whose minds are sound in the truth of a Good God and His reigning power over every event of life can laugh in the face of fears and call them out for what they are.   

We can thank God for what He has done and what He is doing.

We can hope against hope.

We can thank Him for growing us. 

We can thank Him that there isn’t any circumstance that’s able to steal our joy.

We can thank HIm for simply being who He is.  

Appreciating, adoring, worshiping and letting our praise fight this battle.
Whatever may come and whatever lies before me,

Let me be singing when the evening comes:

Bless the Lord, Oh, my soul.

Oh, my soul!

Worship His holy name – 


Come worship His holy name!

{crafting on} yarn/books/spring

I met my friend for our weekly early-morning Starbucks meeting… (well, weekly as in we meet when we aren’t too tired or other stuff comes up.  We are very relaxed about it.)

I knitted and we talked homeschooling and sewing and laughed and drank our coffee.  We meet at 5:30 am, and let me just say, it’s always hard to get up and drag myself out of bed.  But it is so worth it.  We run the gamut of topics.  Encouragement to not lose heart when homeschooling is hard.  Reminding each other who we are in Jesus.

It’s good stuff.


I’ve been under a quilt since I got home, with my second cup of coffee, and the girls ar/e stomping on bubble wrap and playing with kitties.

Last week was really, really busy. Not much time for knitting, and there were things going on every day and in the evenings too.  Mr. E came down with a case of impetigo, and so I have been sanitizing and lysoling and washing hands like a crazy lady.   I think it’s clearing up after a round of antibiotics and lots of various home remedies.  I’ve been (still am) rather paranoid about everyone else getting it.  I didn’t even know what impetigo was.  Now I do, for sure. I’m pretty sure the collective amount of times we have all washed our hands in the last 4 days would be – A LOT.

Mr. E  has been reading “Banner in the Sky” about a boy who climbs the Alps in honor of his father, who died attempting to do the same.   Mr. J is reading various books in the Childhood of Famous Americans series.  (I scored big a year or so ago, when I found about 40+ of  books in this series for $1/each at a used book store near here). Yesterday he came up and couldn’t hardly catch his breath as he told me all about what he was reading.  I was thrilled.  And surprised.  And yet not surprised.  I continue to gently lead him and not push too hard with reading, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how well it is working.  I want to display a feast before my children of literature, reading to them, giving them good books to read, listening to audiobooks with them, and using all these books and the things they are interested in to spark their love for learning.



The other day when I went to the yarn shop to knit, this beauty caught my eye.  I am in love with sock yarn.  Especially striping sock yarn.  Especially rainbow striping sock yarn.  So, it came home with me.  And I’m dreaming of the socks it will become.  Basically,  I’m dreaming of all the lovely and exciting things that are going to happen when I am finished with knitting pink wedding shrugs.  Mr. J got all excited about learning how to crochet, so I taught him how, and he thought it was quite fun to crochet shamelessly in front of me, while I knitted away on the Eternal Shrugs.   No one seems to have sympathy for me, not even my dear aunt – (who has crocheted loads of things, including Miss A.’s beloved and ragged blankie.  Blankie has been a constant companion since she was about 11 months old, and has taken the phrase “Security Blanket” to a whole.new.level. . – and I seem to be taking run-on sentences to a whole.new.level as well.).  – who had the nerve to send me a picture of the sweet granny square she was crocheting (even knowing my crochet angst) because she “just thought I should know”.   I glanced longingly at my hook, and dutifully continued knitting.  (Don’t worry, knitting, it’s not anything personal, and it’s certainly not that I’m leaving you behind.  I’m just expanding my horizons.)


And here is another thing that’s been catching my eye.  This post from Attic24 blog on the Granny Stripe Blanket….  I’m going to begin on that, I think, when the shrugs are finished. …….  Just google pictures of granny stripe blanket.  See if you aren’t drooling over all the beauty.  Oh I can HARDLY STAND the waiting. This is a great way to use up the odds and ends of yarn… or come up with stripes of lovely colors that go together.  The possibilities are endless. 


It’s a beautiful day here, my girl has on her mismatched boots (it’s amazing when we find matching shoes around here), the grass is absolutely, unbelievably green, and there are pillows of white fluffy clouds framed by a blue, blue sky.  I’m entranced by the beauty of spring in a way I have never been before this year.  All the color is a riot and first on my agenda today is to go cut some blueberry branches to brighten and bless my kitchen table and countertops.  And who knows? Maybe the living room and my bedroom, too – why not? 

Joining Nicole from Frontier Dreams