cloistered away | enjoying simplicity



October 2014



here + there

Written by , Posted in LATELY


Is anyone else sighing with relief that it’s Friday? I am, certainly. Today the kids and I will be spending the day playing/lunching with friends in the country, something all five of us desperately need, followed by an early dinner and a quick trip around the neighborhood for trick-or-treating. The kids have been feverishly creating their own costumes this week. Of course, I always love seeing their inventiveness with what they already own or can scrounge up from around our home. Tomorrow, Kristen and I will also have another full day photographing. I’m really loving my new work with her and our clients this season.





October 2014



homeschooling | little zooey magazine

Written by , Posted in HOMESCHOOL



The other day, I spoke with a friend who recently pulled her children out of public school to homeschool. Only a few months into the semester she was now upset and questioning her decision, “I think I’ve made a mistake. I don’t know what I’m doing.” I pulled her in for a hug, assuring her she wasn’t alone, and then I let her in on a little secret–none of us does. At some level, as parents and educators, we all feel inadequate to the task., and while there are several books and blogs and curriculums offering us the right or best ways to parent or educate, homeschooling is an organic process, something that requires us to adapt guidelines and ideas to our own children, our own family and style. I hope all that I write and share here is always in that context: ideas and concepts that can be tweaked and adapted into your own.

On a similar note, I recently wrote a bit about our homeschool for Little Zooey magazine.



October 2014



with my eyes open

Written by , Posted in SOUL



Belief isn’t always easy.
But this much I have learned,
if not enough else—
to live with my eyes open.

I know what everyone wants
is a miracle.

Mary Oliver, “In the Storm”

Belief isn’t always easy. Our minds and bodies carry so much memory–joy, pleasure, and hope mixed with offense, pain, and loss. Sometimes the hurt we have seen and experienced in our bodies overwhelms us. It clouds our sight and crowds God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives. Still, he is good. He is faithful. And he is always finding such personal ways to remind us.






October 2014



42/52 + 43/52

Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT



 ”a portrait of each of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

liam // We’ve talked often this week about privilege and responsibility. It makes me feel so old and parental, but I suppose that’s partly what I am.

burke // This week you told me that dad and I expect too much of you guys. Although I disagree, I am taking it to heart, re-evaluating our days and work. It’s hard to impart perspective to you all, to prepare you for the adult years looming while still allowing you to be children. We all need so much grace in growing as a family.

blythe // At a ranch we visited, you and I ran around in a circle, pushing these bags like a merry-go-round, while Oli rode and enjoyed it. We also hopped on to enjoy the momentum for as long as possible.

olive // You did the Home Alone face all on your own. It seems appropriate.



liam // You picked out your favorite pumpkin this week and have been deciding whether to carve it or paint it.

burke // You are the silliest, Burke, yet also so serious. You always appear as though you are thinking the world all over again.

blythe // You loved the tall, white horse and took your care of him very seriously.

olive // Catching free rides from me and Blythe. You have such a strong, determined spirit.



October 2014



for the soul

Written by , Posted in SOUL

for the soul | cloistered away

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? {Matthew 16}

Some days my soul feels stretched like dough, enlarged and translucent, waiting to tear. On occasion it does. This last week, I’ve been a little quieter here, practicing stillness and patience again, gathering my spread-too-thin soul back into a lump. The Autumn season is always busy for us, and I’ve learned it’s important to take periods of rest in the midst of it. I’ve thought about these particular words in Matthew and the ones that precede them much lately: the paradox of releasing life in order to gain it, the idea that our souls are our most valuable asset, not to be expended flippantly. I’m grateful to read them again, to remember what and whom my soul really needs.




October 2014



uncommon goods for new parents

Written by , Posted in COLLABORATION


I have several friends who are currently pregnant, including three new nieces/nephews coming early next year! Eep! Many times, expectant parents already have in mind a few things they might need or want for their new little’s arrival–especially if it’s their first–accoutrements such as clothing, feeding supplies, bedding, baby wraps, and car seats. While these important gifts anticipate the baby’s practical needs, during my own years of motherhood, I’ve learned sometimes parents need a little something less practical and unexpected.


With several upcoming births and Christmas around the corner, I thought I would share a few unique gifts ideas from Uncommon Goods, a Brooklyn-based business that supports artists and designers with environmentally-conscious, mostly handmade goods. Here’s a few favorite gift ideas :

for the wall // When possible I love gifting new parents with something that will outlast the baby years, something fun for the nursery wall such as an animal head made from recycled cardboard like these here, a piece of art, or a world map. For a family who loves to travel, they might enjoy scratching off  their latest family adventures with this one here.

for beyond the baby years // Since we’ve always lived in a home with hard wood flooring, I also love a good (larger) baby blanket. With my own kids, I tried to choose blankets that would transition with them into childhood. The girls still use their crib blanket now when playing on the floor or as a throw over their bed. These oversized kantha blankets handmade in India from upcycled sari swatches are on my current wishlist and would make the perfect blanket to transition from the baby years into the adult years, really. Plus they come in a variety of unique colors and patterns.

for the older sibling // I have always appreciated when friends/family have gifted my older child(ren) after a birth. Depending on the age of your older child, it can be a difficult transition. I love the idea of a personalized book like this one or this one for an older sibling to understand their new important and exciting role in the family. For more ideas of personalized gifts, such as a hand-stitched pillow or frame, take a look here.

for mom + dad // Parenthood is difficult, and those first few sleepless months can be even more so. I love gifting new parents with a little something just for themselves in this transition, to remind them how important self-care is during the years of care-taking. I always enjoy finding something beautiful for the home that requires little maintenance like these here, a new candle that also doubles as solid perfume or body butter like this one (what?! so amazing), and of course something rad like this to aid in keeping us awake.

Obviously, Uncommon Goods has gifts for more than young parents. If you’re looking for a unique Christmas gift or stocking stuffer, take a peak at some of these ideas here or here. You might even find something to add to your own wishlist (ahem). Either way, I wish you all the best weekend and a happy Friday!


This post is in partnership with Uncommon Goods, a Brooklyn-based business committed to supporting artists and designers by featuring mostly handmade and environmentally-conscious goods. All thoughts are my own. 





October 2014




Written by , Posted in MOTHERHOOD + MARRIAGE



We pierced your ears last weekend, a gift and milestone for your eighth year. You sat straight and still, without so much as a flinch, a picture of your unwavering personality.  Blythe, you have an affinity for beauty and detail in everything, whether the clothes you select or the way you arrange the things and people around you. Although you are playful and giggly, you have a seriousness about your goals, about accomplishment. I so much enjoy seeing the person you are becoming, hearing the dreams and beauty in your perspective. May you always be brave with the things in your heart, sweet girl. We love you so. Happy birthday.