Sunday, December 28, 2014

A New Year and A Challenge To Live More Creatively.

 2015 is right around the corner! I wouldn't know where to begin on all the lessons 2014 has taught me, but what a year. We leaped into homeschooling which was by far the most radical life decision I have made lately. Last year I remember being really intent on the word "permission." It was as you might say, my word of the year. I haven't felt a particular word laid on my heart for this coming year but I would say that one goal I have is to live more creatively, to challenge myself more creatively, and make more space and time in my life for those things that are calling me, like taking pictures.

 This morning I asked Graycen is she wouldn't mind me taking some photographs of her so we can have one or two updated pictures for around the house. Maybe we'll call these our "school pictures"! We set off listening to our soundtrack to get us in the picture taking mood on our way to the field. The most appropriate song came on. Here are the lyrics.

 I was a little girl alone in my little world who dreamed of a little home for me. I played pretend between the trees, and fed my houseguests bark and leaves, and laughed in my pretty bed of green. I had a dream. That I could fly from the highest swing. I had a dream. Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park, I asked God who I'm supposed to be. The stars smiled down on me, God answered in silent reverie. I said a prayer and fell asleep. I had a dream. That I could fly from the highest tree. I had a dream.
Now I'm old and feeling grey. I don't know what's left to say about this life I'm willing to leave.
I lived it full and I lived it well, there's many tales I've lived to tell. I'm ready now, I'm ready now, I'm ready now to fly from the highest wing.

I had a dream.
 Lyrics to the song Dream, by Priscilla Ahn.

May we all live creatively and wildly and bravely this coming year. Let's say yes to the import and and recognize that saying no to one thing is in fact saying yes to so much more. Let's practice saying no boldly too. 

“It is true that all men are created in the image of God, but Christians are supposed to be conscious of that fact, and being conscious of it should recognize the importance of living artistically, aesthetically, and creatively, as creative creatures of the Creator. If we have been created in the image of an Artist, then we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for us” 
-Edith Schaeffer

Happy New Year, friends and family! Go, and create!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Life Lately.

                                                             Artichoke request from the kids.

                                               Continuing our study on the human body.

 We made lanterns one day and after dinner we lit them and took a walk around our neighborhood in the dark. It made for a wonderful memory.

                                          Coffee and hot cocoa dates with our friends.

                        A bowl of homemade chickpea curry and a moment of quiet time.

                                         I just really liked the view I had from where I was sitting.

 Folks, it's getting dark at 4:30. 4:30! But I am taking some steps this winter to help with the winter blues. One of them being to get outside everyday no matter the weather, and another is celebrating the coziness. In the past years I have really embraced the grounding feeling that winter brings, the slow pace, the focus on home, more cooked meals, more fires in the fireplace, more candles burning. All of that helps!

                                                          I mean really. This face of his!

 We had some friends over for dinner recently and I can tell you that I have not laughed that hard in ages. I was literally laughing into the next day. Praise God for friends who you can be your entire and complete self around.

                                                         Her favorite spot in the house.

 I find the colder it gets, the more indoor plants I bring in the house. I'll be a crazy plant lady by February, no doubt.

       Jonathan and Lars hard at work building something. This time for my boys is EVERYTHING.

 Just a snap shot mid day of our homeschool life. I want to remember it how it happens, which is not always neat and tidy but more like an explosion of creativity.

 Graycen and I have been thrifting buddies recently. She's got a great eye for things that need to come home with us. This mug she spotted and after a good laugh decided it was worth the $1.

 Really, really love this guy of mine. Thankful for how he orientates me when life starts to disorientate me.

 Had to laugh at the way I've been dressing lately. All these layers are reminding me how I dressed in the 8th grade. Bring back the 90's, shall we?

 This spot in the house on the sunniest of mornings is a fine spot to sip coffee. Also, it's a great view of the now frozen lake outside the window.

 Bread and soup, almost everyday. These tortillas were made by Graycen and were delicious! They paired perfectly with the hot carrot soup we made.

 If you are hungry for some great conversation, then hang out with this boy. Lars has one of the best minds around and even a few minutes alone with him will have you thankful for days.

 Being a mom to boys is a thing to be cherished. Being a mom to boys who start reminding you of the reasons you fell in love with your husband, well that just takes it over the top.

Moss always feels magical this time of year. When it all become leafless and brown, spots of green can be very exhilarating. 

 An early morning start to the day when the rest of the house is quiet. Candle light and rain hitting the window and this loaf of cranberry walnut bread may be one the best loaves of bread I have made yet.

What does that forecast say? Snow? For Thanksgiving?! Oh my! Friends, stay safe if driving this week, and cozy if staying home. Make memories and cherish life. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Our Homeschool Room.

Homeschooling is fascinating, isn't it? I was so curious before I began, on the how's and why's, and where's of it all. I do admit, it's interesting stuff. So today I thought if you are anything like me that you might find it fun to tour our homeschool room, or as we call it, our dining room. Nothing fancy here. Just a dining room where we do our schooling. No two days are the same. And we like it that way. So here we go!

I would have really liked to take some beautiful pictures with a camera that is not my iPhone, but who has time for that? These are just some quick shots I took cleaning up for the day on my phone, so the quality is pretty poor.

Here Lars is in the kitchen. This is a central hub in our daily lives. One major reason I kept going back to when thinking about homeschooling last year was that I wanted my children to have daily access to quality, life giving foods that we would prepare together. So three times a day we are all in this tiny kitchen making a beautiful mess and some really delicious food.

My dad just built us this beautiful shelf for over our radiator in our dining room/ school room. We haven't stained or painted it yet, because honestly, I can't bring myself to touch that beautiful natural wood. But this piece has become major for us. I pile a whole days worth of stuff  on it, leaving it there till I clean up dinner in case any of the children want to mosey on back to do some more research on their own throughout the day. (this happens. awesome, right?! kids WANT to learn!)

We use a loft of color in our learning. Almost all of Graycen's work this year she has hand drawn. Hours and hours of her time poured out into beautiful illustrations of how she learns and what she learns. She never has to feel rushed or move on until she is ready, and some days, like today, takes over an our to get just one picture right. We use Math-U-See for the kids math books, but branch out often making math flowers, or division houses. Always drawn, always colorful, and often times beautiful!

This is a shot of our dining room from one corner. We use that one bookshelf to hold most of our daily work.

To the far left in this picture are these beautiful watercolors the kids have been doing weekly after they have memorized our bible verse for the week. I have them up on the wall right now because they are just so wonderful, but we plan on making them into homemade Christmas gifts.

Living books! Following the beliefs of Charlotte Mason, we read living books. A "living book" is a book that a child gains knowledge of through his own effort. "Whole books are living in the sense that they are written by a single author who shares personally his favorite subject with us, and we pick up his enthusiasm." - Karen Andreola, Charlotte Mason Companion

Some of our favorite supplies that we use everyday are Dixon No.2 pencils (they really are the best pencils!), LYRA colored pencils which are high quality and have beautiful colors, and Stockmar paints.

I am not kidding when I say that for the past two months I have started almost every morning with a thankfulness so big to be able to homeschool and have the laws to back me up in my choices here in America. I tell the kids all the time, it's not just a right that we have, but a GIFT! We try to live accordingly with this gift. That flag right there bring me to tears everyday.

I have a little corner set up on our dining room with a sheepskin rug thrown down on the floor for some coziness and some wooden toys if a child is feeling frustrated or unwilling. A few minutes left to play and most of the time come back to the table with a willing attitude.

We also have this table set up where the kids can display treasures they have found on a walk or in our yard, it also holds our moveable calendar that Dune and Lars are in charge of changing every day, and little weather story telling wooden pictures that they predict the days weather with. I'll really be sad the year they outgrow this, as it has become one of my favorite things.

       We use all parts of our home though, from the attic to the basement, from the yard, to our neighbors yards, to the little lake we live on and beyond. I would call our local library just as important to our homeschool as our dining room, along with our homeschool co-op and church. We are really blessed to live in the Hudson Valley where learning is rich and everywhere. A train ride north or south from us and we've landed upon all new worlds. We have access to some of the best art in the world in museums that are as close as just one hour away. 

Well, I am being called away from the computer to come see some very rosy cheeked kids hanging blankets on our clothes line declaring today, "washing day." Hope you enjoyed our little tour!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


My sister was just here visiting. She left this morning. It never gets any easier, having to say goodbye to her. But it has me thinking. It has me thinking that I am so thankful that my children get to do life together. I mean really, really get to do life together. 

This morning they came down the creaky wooden stairs teary eyed that their Aunt had left. They piled onto the couch like little puppies wiping the tears off their faces, sharing their sadness. There's no rush right now to get them dressed and fed and onto the school bus. There's no rush for them to dry their faces, say goodbye to me and each other and sit apart all day, feeling the same feelings but not being able to share in that. 

There is instead a little light on over by the couch with a ball of yarn and some knitting needles, a candle flickering near by, the smell of coffee in the air, and a window cracked letting in the cool morning air. There is also encouragement from me that they stay in their pi's a little longer today and that maybe we will take our school outside and do learning among the acorns and fallen crunchy oak leaves. We'll exchange hugs all day when needed and I'll tell them stories from when I was a little girl. I'll invite them into the kitchen for the preparation of every meal. We'll slow down when we feel hurried, because there is nothing we need to add to the hurry. It's already going by fast enough. I'll call them to the couch for Farmer Boy and we'll huddle for prayer and thanksgiving, because that is about all we can offer somedays. That is what we can offer today. 

This season I am in; homeschooling, homemaking, it's teaching me to really live. It's teaching me to cultivate what really matters, to put my mind on the things that really matter. It's teaching me to be fully present, totally awake to what's around me, and when I completely blow it, that what lies beyond that are all the things I should be grasping for anyway. Grace. Forgiveness. God. and People. 

It's not the lessons. It's not the grades. It's not the comparison of how I am measuring up in all of this. It's so much more. Have I pointed them to Jesus enough today? Have I offered other's grace the way I have to myself, or vice versa? Have I told them enough that God has a plan for them? Have I given my children the space and environment to grow together, lean on each other, love each other? 

Today, we'll stay in our jammies a little longer than usual. Today we'll love a little harder than usual. Today I will set the pace for my home and children and be reminded that this, this is what is really important right now within these little growing hearts- that they have me, yes, but also that they have each other. They have each other

Monday, September 22, 2014

Diligence, Integrity, Character, and Potatoes.

In our homeschool, we've been learning about diligence, integrity, and character in our history lessons. We've been talking about the importance of a good leader and what it takes to earn respect from men and women. We've had some really interesting talks about this, considering more than half of my audience are only five years old. None the less, I try to drill this home. Some really great bible verses on this topic have been found in our lessons, Romans 12:11, Proverbs 18:9, and Proverbs 19:15. All good ones.

Yesterday we picked the potatoes we planted back in spring. Lars was most anxious all summer for the perfect time to pick them, waiting sometimes not so patiently. While all three of my kids posses really awesome qualities, it is Lars who I see with leadership abilities that go beyond anything I could ever teach him, but more  of how God has made him. All three kids started out with vigor and enthusiasm, but two quickly grew tired of digging, and digging, and digging. Not Lars. Long after everyone else had gone on to other things, he was still there digging with even more intent than he started with. Lars easily picked more than half of our potatoes. I stood back and watched as he wiped his sweaty brow with his dirty hands and I was proud of my boy. I would say that he most definitly displayed diligence, integrity, and great character picking those potatoes. Again, something I could never make him become, but rather lead him to grow in those ways and remind him of how proud we are of him when we see him display these traits. That goes for all of my kids. All of them different, all equally important and needed in their role in our family, and eventually needed in their role outside of our home.

Tonight, we sit down, to the fruits of Lars labor, the first meal of many where we eat our potatoes. Tonight, potato soup.
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