Saturday, April 27, 2013

soup: free to wander

Oh my goodness this wedding is making everything so much fun this spring. It is all we can talk about.

Last weekend was my Sis-In-Law's bridal shower, and we wore dresses and minded our manners and petted sheep. Could a day be any more wonderful? Maybe if it were warmer, yes.

You know, I am at peace with the fact that I will probably not ever be posting my run times for any race, ever. So.
Since I can't brag about working out, let me tell you about the amazing deals I got on our wedding clothes: 
three dresses, 
two sweaters, 
a dress for the wedding for me, 
three pairs of shoes,
 throw in several tops and skirts for the girls-- 
Grand Total:
under $100. 
AND I did it while shopping with three kids by myself. 
(Old Navy sales, and there was some mad couponing involved).
If this were a competition I might actually care to compete (probably not).

After the bridal shower, we went . .. Camping!
My Aunt Sharman rented a cabin for us for two nights at a local campground,
and it was so much fun we could hardly stand it.

We celebrated Earth Day by being outside in God's glorious earth from sunup to sundown.

It was so quiet and restful. I want to live in a cabin in the woods. 

I am feeling so hugely blessed by our family and friends, 
we have such wonderful people in our life.
Thank-you, Aunt Sharman, for a lovely and memorable camping trip!

I only have one link this week: Achieving Without Goals- zenhabits. 

This post so resonates with what I have been thinking about and I guess what I was trying to say in this post. I think that living with or without goals will of course be different for every personality, but it seems that things like ten-year plans, a-b-c types of thinking are a very modern, very American approach to life and offer only a win/lose way to live, and possibly miss some delightful twists and turns and possibilities along the way. Isn't it wonderful to think of life in terms of discovery rather than success?

Wishing you a beautiful weekend, whatever path you choose ...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day.

This day appeals to me for two reasons: I love poetry, and I love pockets! I love bags or bureaus with many drawers or pockets and the small pleasure of tucking things away, and later finding something long forgotten. I used to put my hand in coat pockets and pull out money, now I pull out used tissues, crayons, forgotten toys.

This morning I put my hand in the pocket of my sweatshirt and discovered this tiny matryoshka doll. How delightful. This is the wonderful thing about poetry, and pockets, and life, you never know what you mind find.

Today I am keeping this poem in my pocket. I think Ruth introduced me to it on her blog a while ago. I just love it.

Marilyn Krysi

Looking back now, I see
I was dispassionate too often, 
dismissing the robin as common, 
and now can't remember what 
robin song sounds like. I hoarded 
my days, as though to keep them 
safe from depletion, and meantime 
I kept busy being lonely. This 
took up the bulk of my time, 
and I did not speak to strangers 
because they might be boring, 
and there were those I feared 

would ask me for money. I was 
clumsy around the confident, 
and the well bred, standing on 
their parapets, enthralled me, 
but when one approached, I 
fled. I also feared the street's 
down and outs, anxious lest 
they look at me closely, and 
afraid I would see their misery. 

The rest of the poem is beautiful. Read it here. And don't forget to keep a poem in your pocket.

Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you'll never feel lonley
at night when you are in bed

The little poem will sing to you
the little picture bring to you
a dozen dreams to dance to you
at night when youre in bed

kepp a picture in your pocket
and a poem in your head
annd you'll never feel lonley
at night when youre in bed.
-Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

how to cook your chicken

Remove your chicken from the freezer and dump it in the crockpot or the last place you ran from.

Add a can of beer, cheap, or a glass of dry wine or coffee or whatever your grown-up self prefers.

Now for the seasonings:
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp grit
1/2/ tsp oregano
1/2 tsp fool
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2/ tsp prayer and regret and
1/2 tsp belief in impossible things

salt and pepper to taste (do not let this trip you up again, the taste is your own)

Now set to low, put the lid on and go
vacuum the rug
clean out your closets
take a walk- it's working, really, you don't need to check.

In about five hours, or seven years, or on a day in April when anything seems possible (you will know when) it will be cooked, your chicken. Shred and serve.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

just write

For two days I have only two children. Sam is staying with my mom and it's just Annie and Josie here while Jim is out of town. It's funny how one less child changes the dynamic, the whole house changes we all sense it and for two days it's a good change; Sam is happy to have a little time away and she needs this too, and I am enjoying a little time to focus on the littles without thinking so much about school.

I love so much getting to know my girls, watching them grow before my eyes. I remember when Sam was a baby thinking how inconceivable that one day she would walk and talk and take on her own personality, and I think of this all the time, what a miracle it is to watch them unfold. So much about them is just in them, they were born with these peculiarities and bents and I love learning them, amazed by their potential and forever a bit shocked by the wonder of them. I imagine myself as an old woman, and my children with grey heads and I know even then, still I will watch them and shake my head bedazzled.

Yes I am confounded by them too sometimes, by their sin nature and I fear for it, the way these small leanings toward selfishness or covetousness or fear and anger will wound and taunt them, the great potential for hurt in their life and I think of what a lifelong battle it is to surrender, to trust, to love and I pray that they will find it early, life that is truly life, their belonging to Abba.

I think about the pathways being formed in their little brains, and the habits already taking root, creating patterns of thought and how can I now coax them early towards gratitude faith hope love joy, how can I teach them, early, to avoid false selves and illusions of the world, how will I teach them these things that take a lifetime to learn escape expose accept?

And the world is dark. Wars and rumors of wars. Bullies, bombs, every night we shake our heads, every night we lay beneath the weight of the world and worry but lately I am struck by this: the strong hope of our calling and the strong love of our Father and the strong power and love and strong mind of the Holy Spirit. I have been thinking about the high calling of faith in a world of fear and of hope in a world of despair and that if we are to be like Noah, in this age, well then, it is to flood the world with love love love, and this is enough, this love.

After quiet time I have promised to take the girls shopping. Why I do this to myself I have no idea, except that Annie loves to shop, Lord help me, and we need to buy a wedding gift, and I need a skirt to wear this weekend. I can hear the girls chattering to themselves, each on a bed for quiet time, and the windows are open and spring has come.

Life goes on in the details, even as the earth trembles and mountains crumble and bombs explode and hearts ache and we shake our heads.

linking up today with Heather to just write.

Monday, April 15, 2013

as He leads

Then go as He leads. Go with all your heart. Makings and cultivatings of a thousand sorts are waiting. There are sick to tend. Meals to stir together. Songs to sing. Bridges to build. Accounts to balance. Hungry to feed. Feet to wash. Deaths to die. Souls to woo. Books to be written. There are Sabbath rests to take, and fields to walk, and silent prayers to pray that seem to accomplish nothing at all, but accomplish everything instead. Yield. Yield. Yield to Jesus in you.The Creator flows in You, alive and rushing. 

The hardest part of being a stay at home mom and attempting to keep some career plates spinning is the constant sense of torn. I am always a little bit unsure, moment to moment, of the particular calling I should be giving myself to, when they all are calling me at once. 

Lately I have been considering that my own calling in this season may not be to anything quantifiable.

Maybe I am not called to a specific goal. Maybe my calling is only as far as I hear Him lead, moment by moment; nothing more. And that requires trust and quiet and a certain yielding to the ambiguity. 

Maybe today I am called to notice the way the light slants, at three in the afternoon, and to watch as it breaks apart at the end of the day. Is anyone doing this?

Maybe I am called simply to pay attention.

Maybe it will only always be a long obedience, a patient prayerfulness, and no more. 

Maybe at this place in my journey there is no path and hardly any fences, only a wide open field . .. a field ripe with many good things to cultivate, beauty waiting to be recognized and poetry waiting to blossom and people to love and meals to stir and songs to sing and small people to hold and it's all good and it's all an acceptable sacrifice.

The hard part will always be the sense of wondering if I am doing it right- am I spending my time and energy in the right ways, to the right things, am I completing the work He has called me to do? The answer to that will only come by listening, abiding.

I pray a lot for the Spirit to fill me, and finally I need to understand that he Has. And if the Creator flows in me, then I am free to create- vulnerably, honestly, heartily- as unto the Lord, and not men.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Soup: rain and rainbows

It was one of those weeks when the air is too heavy and the light oppresses like cathedral tunes and we are all a bit slow and fumbling. We were weary of the lessons, weary of the weather, restless and bored. The cure, of course, is books. And I remembered why we are doing this anyway, if not to enjoy the process, and finally on Friday we curled on the couch and did nothing but read until the atmosphere shifted.

Brennan Manning
This week we learned that Brennan Manning died. I can't help but offer my own story of the influence of Brennan Manning. It was my third year of college, on a dark spring Saturday much like the dark days we have been having here in the northeast, when I sat in my dark college apartment and read Abba's Child. It had been a dark year, and a deep-rooted splinter of insecurity was working it's way out of my life that year. It was a life-changing afternoon as I sat and soaked in what it means to belong to Abba. Thank-you, Brennan Manning.

April is National Poetry Month and I thought I would share a few poetry resources. I enjoy receiving a poem a day from The Writer's Almanac,, and Your Daily Poem. Ruth posts a lot of good poetry and is posting a poem a day as well as a progressive poem in the month of April.

This year I bought the collection she walks in beauty by Caroline Kennedy. I really love this book. Here is a poem that seems fitting now:

Edna St.Vincent Millay

Was it for this I uttered prayers,
And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,
That now, domestic as a plate,
I should retire at half-past eight?

On Creativity: a letter to my children
Oh. This is so lovely.


Incendiary: Chris Cleave
Chris Cleave definitely can write a book I can't put down, but oh, the tragedies, I can hardly bear it. Incendiary takes place in London after a fictional act of terror similar to our 9-11. The story is narrated by an unnamed mother who loses her son and husband in the bombing. Raw but humorous, it was similar to Little Bee in that I couldn't put it down, and similarly gut-wrenching. I really liked the book until the last few chapters which became increasingly despairing.

Daring Greatly : How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead: Brene Brown
I loved this book and the only thing I didn't like about it was that I wished I were reading it in a group to have people to discuss it with. Every single person could benefit from this book. And I loved Brene Brown's casual, personal style of writing which is so relatable, I felt like I was having a conversation with a really wise, comfortable laid-back friend.

For a good taste of what the book is about check out her talk, The Power of Vulnerability on Ted Talks. And here is her blog.


This week at a library activity I sat and realized that I have completely neglected every type of toddler activity with Josie. We never missed a story hour with the older two. Oh the mother guilt is endless . .. (and she is clearly holding it against me- ha)

May you find rainbows after your storm this week . ..

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Homeschool Review

It seems time to give a bit of a homeschool update. 
I have been wanting to get to this for weeks but you know, Life.

This week I looked through our curriculum and discovered we will be completely finished in six weeks. This was somewhat of a relief to me as I have not been a militant homeschooler . .. we school four days a week, and we have taken multiple breaks along the way including a ten-day vacation in Florida. Although we can get through some of the material very quickly and others take longer, I was pleased to find that we are right on schedule. And as we will be preparing for a very special wedding, there is a good chance we will double up to end our bookwork a week or so sooner.

This week I ordered books for the summer, writing workbooks and a nice stack of Greek and Roman myths. The learning will continue, always, and this has been an important thing for me to remember: learning happens all the time, sometimes especially apart from the formal bookwork. I don't think I will ever be an "unschooler", but I definitely get the concept and believe wholeheartedly in a lifestyle of learning.

After one year, I would say the number one benefit of home education is TIME.

My kids have time to learn in the way that they are most interested in learning. Playing outside, sitting at the table and drawing for hours, imaginative play- it's all learning. And because our schoolwork can be completed in half the time of a regular school day, there is plenty of time for the less formal, curiosity-led learning which I feel is equally if not more important.

Finding a likeminded homeschool community has been a HUGE blessing, for me and the kids. As a parent, I have plenty of questions and concerns related to homeschooling, and being able to talk about those things with other moms who have the same value system and approach to learning is SO so good. I think I would have had a much harder year had we not had this community. And the girls love their friends.

Honestly I have experienced so many blessings along this homeschool journey this year. Being a person prone to doubting myself with just about everything, I have had no doubts this year. We see Sami thriving, and this to me is reason enough that this is the best choice for us.

Although I am not especially concerned with why doctors and lawyers homeschool their kids, despite it's hoaky title this article is really good: 18 Reasons Why Doctors and Lawyers Homeschool Their Kids. We have definitely experienced all of these.

We were able to do some extra classes too, piano and gymnastics, and this along with tons of field trips and things to do in Cleveland, church and meetings with our co-op, kept us just busy enough but not too busy. I love our rhythm.

Everything has it's negatives, of course. Here are some of mine:

1. My own flaws become magnified. 
One of my greatest parenting weaknesses (which is also sometimes a strength) is that I am very flexible a big fat pushover. My kids have learned that they can argue with me and change my mind. This means, that while I do want my kids to be able to voice their opinion, for a while every. darn. thing. was coming with an argument. This is exhausting. It is getting better.

Another flaw is that I am very flexible can't stick to a routine. This can be a good thing, as some days we just need to do things differently. However it is another area that invites arguments. I have been really trying to be more consistent and this, too, is improving. On the days when we are on a normal schedule and stick to it, we have really smooth successful homeschool.

2. Someone said to me once that she "has never met a homeschooler who didn't believe the world revolved around her." I think about this all of the time. I can see how easily a child at home can become very egocentric. However I would argue that there are plenty of egocentric public school students too, no?

3. Lack of competition can create a lack of motivation. 

4. mid-Feb to mid-March was hard. Every problem we have ever experienced became magnified. And we even had a vacation. I have heard this is to be expected. We need to find a way to better survive it next year.

I'm sure there are more but the day has begun and we are off to the art museum.

If you are in Cleveland be sure to check out the renovations at the Cleveland Museum of Art! It is really wonderful. And the Children's gallery, Gallery One, is fantastic.

Wishing you peace, friends!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

hard turning

I failed at Easter this year. The whole thing, beginning with Ash Wednesday all the way through Lent and then Holy Week when I all of my lovely plans for symbolic and meaningful ended in the time it took a child to throw up on me. Of course when I say I failed I mean me, myself, my own plans and expectations, I didn't fail Jesus, it's not even possible, that's the point and this is what I remind myself all of Lent and Holy Week and today, Easter Tuesday.

Lent this year was a slow unraveling and my only fast was to fall down, literally, to lie on the floor, daily, more, if the sun shone, to plant my face in it. I learned to put my back to the sky and say nothing and Jesus met me there, he did, don't let me ever forget it, God spoke, He speaks, it sounds so cliche but it's true, seek and you shall find, I was astonished by it again, in the middle of a grey afternoon, in the middle of kids and noise, by the mouth of babes and if he never speaks again to me I have this, and the sunshine.

I wake up and ask myself how is today different, this new life I am given to walk, how am I new today because I don't feel new, I feel hard and brittle and all I can think of is green grass, hard earth, all I can do is lie down, all I can do is press my face again to the sunshine and believe, the heart's hard turning, the heart's slow learning* . . .the sun shines and frozen earth turns, again, I offer up, again, to the light to the slow turning to the softest shoots of green.

*Annie Dillard