Tuesday, May 31, 2016

End of May

There was a lot of rain this month.
Chilly days.
Read alouds.


And while I felt like I was gearing up for a new chapter, these last days were like a slow turn of page. Lots of rest from a lingering ear infection. And seasonal allergies that laid four years dormant awoke with verve and purpose.

So long, May.

Glad for a return of sunshine. And hoping soon, restored energy.

For now, enjoying naps and no place to be.

Monday, May 30, 2016

And still counting (8822-8877)

laughing with Jason over the price of mulch
that he remembered my name
books in the mail
read alouds with Erin on a bench in the sunshine

bird song
a mulch mound
lemon water
morning sun through the French doors
balloons for Ivette

banana pancakes
a funny note from Marshall's Mom
Satsuma oil in the rooms
games with my kids
an afternoon nap

how her energy has picked up being home
the difference here makes
a yes for Lanie to serve
a last picnic with friends at co-op
gorgeous weather to fellowship

a hug to Tara
Facebook for far away friends
hugs with women I've gotten to know these four years
their beautiful faces
hours of play for Erin

Kathy W and our long talk about homeschooling
peace (oh peace, oh peace)
last grades sent
chompo bars
a hug with Becky S

a dig date with Michi
excited to have these in my garden next spring

we went to this garden to dig bulbs--great time!

tulip bulbs
joy (joy! joy!)
Cindy back here
a hug with her in the driveway

evening walk with Erin
library run and a shop day with Lanie

home, sweet home
a discount on ear medicine
this man of mine

Jean Baptiste's story
red flowers in the baskets
the rolling bench for weeding
the cold water from the hose
Erin's day away for celebrating Sage

a relatively quick visit to urgent care
Linda at the table
the garden walk with her
her hug and love goodnight
grasses cut

the years that I was allergy free
cold compresses for sinuses
a kindred spirit
the creak of the storm door opening

cookies as big as a hand

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

And that's a wrap

It was a hard year. It was demanding of my time and my heart. It challenged my priorities and boundaries. It tested relationships.

And yet ...

I laughed loudly and found delight in my class (and my children!). I loved the literature (at times, because ... Ovid? No.). My favorites being about the message of friendship and perseverance in Gilgamesh, the easy language of Iliad and Aeneid, and the fun of read alouds with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
I loved Great Books. I loved my students. I loved teaching.

And I loved home.

While there was probably a bet whether I'd finish the year, I'm glad I did. And I totally thank God for that. I thank him for what I learned as well--about the power of prayer, about integrity, about perseverance in difficulty, about his sovereignty. And even more: trust, faith, loyalty, joy. For every blessing, there is likely an original difficulty that God transformed in ways only he can.

I graded the last of the literature packets and research papers and, just this morning, sent out final quarter grades to the families. Each name belonging to a beautiful soul I had the honor of encountering.

I spent the day yesterday pricing out the remainder of the curriculum I'll be using at home next year, listening to podcasts and reading blog posts. I feel like I'm retraining my brain after years of influence from hustle, rush and rigor to rethinking what it means to thrive and what I want for my kids.

Finding gratitude in all of it--for truth revealed, for friendships strengthened, for prayers and support. That in the tears, there was also laughter; and in the chaos, there was also peace.

‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’ Isaiah 41:10, AMP.

Next year: fourth and eighth grades.

It goes so fast.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


During the school year, it wasn't unusual on a weekend to find her asleep still at 8:30--or any home day at that.

Now that co-op is over, there is a renewed energy--even while we still school through math. 

She tells me when she heads up to bed, "Mom, wake me up at seven!"

The difference here makes.


Today, I fixed banana pancakes for breakfast.
banana pancakes

house blend pancake mix

The sun is peeking out.

I'm minutes away from ordering mulch.

Erin will help me make protein bars later this morning.


Over the weekend, I watched a friend's children so she and her husband could attend a wedding. The kids occupied themselves a lot; at one point, we played intense games of Connect Four (so fun!) and Apples to Apples Junior. Lots of laughter and smiles.

Yesterday, Lanie approached me and said, "Will you play a game with me? I had so much fun playing with you (Sunday) and I realized it had been a really long time since we had done that--just us."

"Sure," I said, and it made me pause to think how much it meant to her. The simplest things can carry complex meaning.


Time together is my love language. My kids respond to it. 

"If he remembered his family, that was because a family is the one thing nobody can ever forget." (Abel's Island by William Steig, page 100)

Lanie plays piano music. Erin is outside visiting ants. The dog moves from the sunny spot to the shade. 

I run my hand across the potted mint and inhale its peppery scent. 

Hello, summer.

Monday, May 23, 2016

And still counting (8768-8821)

all the rain
chilly days, home
soft blankets

read alouds with Erin
spaces, purged and tidied
the scent of clean laundry
clothes warm from the dryer
vanilla ice cream

celebrating Shane's 49 years
ice cream because he didn't want cake

a kind and loving man

dinner for two families
texts with Cindy
garden work with Erin and Lanie

callouses from sweeping and digging
bright colored buds on rhododendrons
a hair cut I gave myself!
this was such a blessing to me

fun with my kids
Morning Time she anticipates

the leaning in of a loving dog
her heart stickered letters to a faraway friend
a really good podcast on homeschooling and story
sitting in on a worship rehearsal
foggy mornings

an anorak jacket, still
shopping with a teenager
our laughter
hawks overhead
the rustle of wind in the leaves

coffee with cream and sugar
her notes to me on the chalkboard
wool socks
visiting at Christy's
Kellie over for playdates resumed

coffee with Rebecca
her kindred spirit
magic shell on ice cream
a clean car
Erin's help

an evening walk with her after eight
sunny warmth for a field cut
cherry pit warmers
that man of mine
Wednesday night worship

All things new
camera 2

peanut butter bars
friends around the dinner table
hot tea on a rainy Sunday

a hug from my neighbor Sam
running into a mom at church who is new to homeschooling
Shane's honesty
a fire in May
fire pit plans

chances of sunshine in the forecast

Monday, May 16, 2016

Truth, beauty, goodness

Erin couldn't wait till Monday--the first day of summer school. I wanted to keep her going with math throughout the summer, but math seemed more like a chore than something to enjoy. I've been all over different blogs and have loved insight and encouragement from Sarah Mackenzie (a friend told me about her book called Teaching from Rest, and another friend said she'd been following SM for a long time). I also like the stuff I've read and listened to on Everyday Snapshots.

Anyhow. I'm trying to build a Morning Time routine. I explained to Erin that Morning Time was a chance for us to connect in a creative way instead of a math way first thing in the day. We'll probably tweak this, but today it looked like:

  • listen to a song in French and sing along (she wants to take French this school year)
  • say a prayer and read from a devotional on the fruits of the Spirit
  • talk about manners from a book on manners for kids
  • read aloud from a book (Abel's Island by William Steig)
  • memory verse and copy work (Galatians 5:6, NLT)
  • math page
  • activity or art (a game with mom or Shrinky Dinks--she picked activity: Guess Who?)

It took about an hour and a half, not including the game.

Then she's free for the day in the summer, but in the school year, we'll move on to the other subjects. Math will be taken out of Morning Time because we'll be learning new concepts instead of reviewing old ones, along with history, science, language arts.

She was excited to see what the day would hold. I'm hoping Lanie will join in with us, if not this summer, at least by the time we start up in the fall.

I looked at some blogs this morning to help get a better flow for Morning Time, and one blog had the words truth, beauty, goodness. That's how I want to start my days off. Not by rush, hustle, checklist.

Sunday night I was thinking that our first week of summer vacation was over. But then I realized: this is our first (full) week of summer vacation. I want to enjoy every minute of it, and spending time with my kiddos exploring truth, beauty and goodness seems like a peaceful start.

The kids enjoyed a cookie afterwards and now Erin is drawing on the chalkboard. And me? The yard beckons.

But first: CREACLIP!

before: no hair cut since last SEPTEMBER




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And still counting (8717-8767)

If I used only one word to describe this past school year, it would be hustle. From even before day one, it was a stress and a challenge, and I was stretched thin logistically and emotionally. But in light of the difficulties I faced, God made a way and showed me good friends. I'm so thankful for that, and thankful for

Nicole providing literature packets for my class
the encouragement I received from my students' parents
new friendships made
and long-time friends who prayed for me regularly

my kids
the very good books I got to read
and this was just for Great Books

a favorite class of students who were the highlight of my school year
the friendships Erin had
skate nights

the new friends Lanie made
time with my teenager
time boundaries established
early morning wake-ups
bento box lunches

school days by the fire
Satsuma oil scenting the rooms
the end of the Tuesday crunch
timely messages in my inbox

plans that fit together
the love of neighbors
a green die
the empty treasure box
a thank you note, adorned with special words

growth and understanding in the losses
Jennifer B's text and acknowledgment
drizzle days
Rebecca's hug and prayer
amazing homeschool resources

talks with Shane after dinner
coffee with cream and sugar
impatiens and marigolds planted
Miss Jill
read aloud cuddles on a couch

her sweet tears at the missing
a church message confirmation on change and faith
sunshine on the weekend
French fries with Old Bay
California rolls

a good price on shower board
gluten-free deals at Aldi
an evening walk and talk with Lanie
gardens to weed
tackle boxes

chocolate chip and M&M cookies warm from the oven
cherry bag warmers
these years here

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Home Sweet Home candle burning.

Fire in the fireplace because it's chilly and raining. The blower blowing heat.

Erin is playing with Shopkins.

Dinner is cooking on the stove.

Lanie does cartwheels across the floor.

Getting backpacks ready for storage.

A thank you note from a student beside me.

Music playing in the rooms.

A hound dog's gentle eyes, and loving wag. She lies on the kitchen floor like a proper lady (poised and paws crossed) and watches me at the stove.

Spaghetti and meat sauce.

Thinking of a blanket and a book later. And all the books later. All the books.

Thinking of tomorrow's to-do--66 Books, coffee, grocery run, gardening in the rain--the first day of summer vacation.

The first day of summer vacation.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The last Tuesday

It's the last Tuesday on the co-op calendar. Erin has corrections to make to a math test, and we've spent the morning writing thank you notes.

We got the yearbook last night at the end-of-the-year program, and I spoke to some parents whose children were in my class. It was hard for me to talk. Great Books is a super special class for me, and this year's group of students were my biggest blessing. It's hard when things come to an end, even when the year was long and difficult in unexpected ways--goodbyes always carry with them a measure of loss. Even in the looking forward, we leave something behind.

God has put so many words in front of me this year. Not only through the school books I've read for myself and read to Erin, but encouragement through devotionals and scripture and messages from friends.
From a post I wrote (four years ago!), words that are timely in this season still, to a song that stirs deep emotion and tears at his sovereignty and presence ("You Were There" by Avalon).

I'm grateful for so many things. I'm heartbroken for so many things. I'm also looking forward to so many things. I need to caution myself not to spend too much time looking back--just like that day when Lanie and I first dropped Erin off at co-op this year, we both cried and missed (Erin) at the table and Lanie was full of second-guessing and I reminded her that God already had something planned out for her and she hadn't even walked through that door to know what awaited her. (It turns out, it was some pretty special stuff--new friendships and influences that have made positive and deep impressions on her.)

Wiping away tears. Stepping out in faith to another call.

On, on.

Monday, May 9, 2016

And still counting (8688-8716)

a sunny break in the drizzle
ground dry enough for a quick mow
the smell of the field

waves to a neighbor on a tractor
the kids in Ancient Great Books
last days in school

a salad from Becky S
an invitation
a bag of books to return

Erin's biggest cheeky grin
her joyful heart

good books to read
Anne of Green Gables. Completed.

a zoo trip

skate night that equaled time to grade papers and read
Robert J. Morgan writes really good books

messages with Rebecca
a night over at Michi's

safe travels
dinner with in-laws
Sunday worship with Lanie
an Erica sighting and hug
Erin and Lanie

tank tops on sale
good gluten-free snacks
texts with friends
a sunny Sunday sky
blue sky break with buttercups

gardening with my girl (Lanie)

sweet talks on service

Sunday, May 8, 2016

This mother's day

Last night, we got together with family to celebrate my mother in law. She seemed so happy. It was nice for all of us to be together.

This mama and her babies
This morning, Lanie gave me a poem she wrote, and got me a necklace I've been wanting.
Natalie Grant "fruit of the spirit" necklace

Ahh, love the mama and baby birds

Erin got me a Creaclip. I've been talking about it for two weeks because a friend of mine uses it and her hair looks amazing. Erin and I were out shopping for my mother-in-law yesterday and went by a supplier store so I could check on scissors and to see if they had the clip.

"Mom, you've already spent enough money. You need to stop!" Erin reprimanded.

And for someone like me who really doesn't shop a lot because of the overwhelming guilt I feel about spending money (well, except for books, and even then sometimes ... ), I second guessed myself.  I didn't mention anything of Erin's words, or my selfish purchases ... or needing to revisit the mulch budget I cut into with my impulses.

I opened the gifts this morning and Shane snapped pictures. When I got to the Creaclip, he said, "I told Erin to do whatever it took to not let you buy it."

Thankfully my hair is so long now that if I mess it up, I still have enough for a stylist to work with!
He knew I was out to look for it in a store. I was prepared to purchase it online, but my Amazon link listed it as unavailable.

"Did she tell you what she said to me?" I asked.

He laughed. "Yes."

"I was really shocked she said that, and then I felt horrible about going in to buy your mom the sweater and walking out with things for me too!"

He looked at me and smiled, "You can buy some clothes for yourself, you know."

Shew. Because I got a pair of shorts, two tanks and a spring cardi.

Lanie's poem. I'm crazy thankful for these kids.

An Overflowing Heart of Love

When I wake up in the morning, I see you downstairs
sitting at the computer with no brush through your hairs.
My heart overflows with love for you.

In the afternoon in our life so sweet
you sometimes surprise us with a little treat.
You homeschool us throughout the day with care,
and you put on such a lovely air.

By evening we've about worn you out
it's plain to see this, without a doubt
but still you embrace your loving husband with kisses,
and make us a dinner which hardly makes us starve.

I love the way you carve your character into ours
and how that wonderful laugh of yours could last for hours.
My heart overflows with love for you.

At night when the air is quiet and dim
we all lie in our warm beds sinking in
the joy that we all had together today
and the thought of the games tomorrow we can play.

As I drift off to sleep with my mind so anew
I think about how much I care for you.
As small a heart that I have in me,
it is full of love and joy and glee.

I never knew how much you could do,
My heart overflows with love for you.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

427 pages

Erin and I just finished Anne of Green Gables, her last literature book assigned from co-op. We've read a lot this year, the both of us.

It's raining today, pouring, and we sat under the gray knit blanket just after math problems.

"I want school to be like this next year," she said. "Just like today."

"It will be," I answered.

"No, just like this--where we aren't rushing and sitting at a table all day," she explained.

"It will be," I answered. "It will be like today, and even better."

We will both have the pressures and pace of co-op removed. And if something wants further investigation, there will be time for it and so much more.

'It doesn't seem possible that the term is nearly over,' said Anne. 'Why, last fall it seemed so long to look forward to--a whole winter of studies and classes. And here we are, with the exams looming up next week. Girls, sometimes I feel as if those exams meant everything, but when I look at the big buds swelling on those chestnut-trees and the misty blue air at the end of the streets they don't seem half so important.' (Anne of Green Gables, page 395)

Two more classes. This week, my ancients class had a field trip for archery practice. (So fun! What a blessing time with those kids has been to me this year.)
Hover balls. This was so much fun!
Yesterday, my kids and I went with some friends to the zoo. It was overcast with occasional mist, but as the lunch call cleared out the school buses, it was almost like we had the whole place to ourselves.

Spreading their wings

Goats too!

Ha! That slide!

Greenhouse magic. Beautiful, educational, and inspirational.

Erin and I are finishing up the last of her math homework. A literature book, whose scenes we still giggle over, lies closed on the table. Already, my mind is filling with summer to-dos: painting the herb plant stand, bedrooms, bathrooms, a garden list, and mulching. Today, errands and chores. Taking back the house a load at a time.

The other night I sat with Shane after dinner and we thought long on plans we make and the way things go.

'When I left Queen's my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don't know what lies around the bend, but I'm going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes--what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows--what new landscapes--what new beauties--what curves and hills and valleys farther on.' (Anne of Green Gables, page 421)

I never imagined we'd leave this co-op. It seemed like our place, and still does. But there's no denying a call to something else, something more. And just like we had no idea of the details of the future that awaited us when we moved from the old neighborhood, we are stepping out in faith to another call.

Anne's horizons had closed in since the night she had sat there after coming home from Queen's; but if the path set before her feet was to be narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it. The joys of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams. And there was always the bend in the road!
'"God's in His heaven, all's right with the world,"' whispered Anne softly. (Anne of Green Gables, page 427)

Yes. Indeed.