cloistered away | enjoying simplicity



September 2014



the playful home



nico_nico_clothing-6nico_nico_clothing-7nico_nico_clothing-3nico_nico_clothing-14nico_nico_clothing-12nico_nico_clothing-4I loved the early years of motherhood, the snuggly, baby-wearing years filled with firsts and discovery. At times, I miss the kids’ chubby baby legs or our quiet moments nursing and reading aloud together. I miss how organized and simple life’s routines felt at that time, a rhythm of eating, playing, and sleeping. Those were the sweet parts I now hold tightly in my heart, the salve for the years that also contained toddler tantrums, potty-training, sleep-less nights, and tired days. For the latter, I’m grateful to be moving on.

As the kids age and inevitably grow closer to the horizon of adulthood, our goals and days have become more complex, filled with everything from taking care of our home and selves to learning our spelling lists, math facts, and how to make a meal. Sometimes in the process, I forget the importance of nondescript play, their need to move and be without the goal of accomplishment. On the outside, this sort of play seems anti-productive, activity working against the structure and rigor of adulthood. However, as a mother, I’ve experienced differently. Through unstructured play, I can see the ways each child learns important inter-personal skills and problem solving. They learn about creating and initiative, about imagination. Although small and casual, these regular periods of unplugged “free play” teach my children unquantifiable, yet intrinsic skills for adulthood.

Since arriving back in town late Sunday night, I have felt quite unprepared for this week, and we’re moving slowly toward our typical routine. The kids spent most of Monday morning jumping on my bed and sharing about our weekends apart. Although they have finished a little school work, most of this week they have been playing dress-up, building with Legos, or celebrating our Autumn weather by reading and drawing outdoors. Although we’ll have a bit more structure again next week, for now, I’m grateful to remember the importance of play in our home.

This post is in partnership with Nico Nico, a clothier committed to making kids clothing that is modern, comfortable, and environmentally conscious. Their products are made from organic, sustainable fabric (and are incredibly soft) and are made in the United States. Liam is wearing the DJ Hoody and Norman sweats, and Blythe is wearing the Wynona skirt from the Autumn/Winter line. 




September 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT



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

liam // This week it rained bringing out the little creatures from hiding. Your sister found this guy and you held him, fascinated by his thorn-like forehead. You also made some major advances on the skateboard this week, which made you happy. You managed them without severe harm to your body, which made me happy.

burke // You have been reading Poppy this week (and just finished). On several moments during the day, I’ll find you tucked into the corner of chairs or back into your bed. I love hearing you narrate the story to me, the way you add dramatic voice and motions to your characters. You’ve told me recently you want to be an actor, and listening to your dramatizations, I think you would make a very good one.

blythe // When I returned late from the airport last night, I found this heart at the doorstep made from grass clippings–your welcome home gift to me. I love your thoughtfulness and the way you express yourself by giving to others, this time, to me. Thank you, sweetheart.

olive // I often find you creating something at your art table, something new to clip to your wall or the fridge. Your art is controlled and wild at once, full of imagination and spirit, just like you.



September 2014



on slowing down

Written by , Posted in MOTHERHOOD + MARRIAGE, SOUL


Living in modern culture often makes it difficult to appreciate slowness. Being a mother sometimes makes slowing down feel impossible. Like so many other parents, I’m a list-maker and planner, meaning at any given point I have the day’s needs either handwritten on paper or floating through my head–a list that is never finished, I should add. As a mother, a role with broad parameters and responsibilities, these lists show me progression, the small deeds that accumulate to what is my day and life’s work. Ideally, they would comprise a balanced mixture of work and rest, but choosing the latter always requires intention, something easily usurped by activity and tasks.

Slowness and rest are an intrinsic balance to our busyness as parents. In periods when I’m not careful to protect this need, busyness/hurried-ness can easily become the culture of our home, an environment driven by tasks in lieu of peaceful nurturing. I found myself in this place earlier this month, willing myself against natural limitations and needs to try to do everything. When I sprained my ankle a couple of weeks ago, I was forced to slow down, to accomplish less tasks but each with more quality and intention. How easily I mistake activity and achievement, quantity for quality.

While our children are at home, I realize life will be busy. My ankle is healing well and I’m gratefully able to move around fine again.  Since then, I’ve been revisiting our pace of life and evaluating little ways to value slowness here again. I’m sharing a list because, you know, I’m a list-maker, and in hopes, it will help you all take better care of yourself, too.

unplug // Perhaps unplugging from technology is the most obvious step, but it is also the most difficult for me to do. When I put aside my phone, it helps me stay focused on what I have to do, rather than focusing on or comparing myself by what others. It also curbs distractions.

take a bath // My somewhat ugly pink bathroom currently has a tub without a shower–we plan to remodel it at some point. When we first bought the house, I saw this as an inconvenience, something we needed to remedy as soon as possible. Yet as I soak quietly beneath warm water each evening, I think maybe this is something I needed all along. Bathing is naturally a slower and more restful process, perfect for the end of busy days. Each night, I throw in a handful of eucalyptus + peppermint infused epsom salts and feel restored from the physical day.

go for a walk // This can happen alone or with the children, but either way, being outdoors in a slow way (opposed to running, which is a different experience) helps restore balance to hurriedness.

eat well // When life becomes busier, I always find I gravitate more toward foods that aren’t beneficial for me. I drink more coffee and eat more sugar and simple carbs for quick energy which in the long-run hurts me (and my kids). Plus, it ignores what my body and mind are really trying to tell me, “I’m tired. Slow down.”

take a restful break//  Most afternoons I enforce quiet rest time in our home. During this time the kids cannot talk with one another or me and must read or do a quiet activity on their own. More often, I am in the habit of using that time to catch up on social medias, email, or writing.  I am best when I take that same time myself for a brief nap or quiet reading time, two activities that restore me enough to finish the day.

write down inspiring words // I love words and am encouraged when I read or remember them. Over the years of busyness, I have returned to Jesus’s words in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” This has reminded me each time, spiritual rest can occur even in the midst of the busiest of activities.

How do you all build slowness into your days? Do you have certain rituals or words that help you remember to slow down?



Tomorrow, I leave alone for Virginia, which admittedly feels quite strange and wonderful at the same time. I imagine I’ll post a few things from the conference via Instagram, but for the most part, I plan to use this retreat away from my family, the computer, and work to restore my soul.




September 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT



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

liam // you face-planted on the concrete this weekend while skate-boarding. The next morning we had planned to have donuts and skate at the park with a few of your friends to celebrate your birthday. Instead of sitting by the wayside, you pulled on your pads and helmet and started again, bandages and all. You also successfully dropped into the bowl for the first time.  I realize as your mother this is just the beginning of releasing your adventurous heart.

burke // since you were little you’ve had a patient and tender way with nature. Animals and insects seem to trust you, allowing you to easily catch them. This weekend you found and caught a dragonfly. We all gathered  around you, studied its body and eyes. A few minutes later you set it on a tree trunk, where it flapped a bit and then flew away.

blythe // you love to bring your school work or books or play into my bedroom, perhaps, because of the light.

olive // You love having tasks and duties within our family, like helping make meals or holding the box with our treasures from the yard. Always, you remind us (and the world) size and importance are not always relational.




September 2014



here and there

Written by , Posted in LATELY


I’ve been thinking about our fall camping trip last year, the beautiful leaves and cool, foggy air, the feeling of fleece and fire. Here in the South, September is always a month of longing, of waiting, of remembering relief will come soon.

This weekend, we’ll be celebrating Liam with some of his buddies and I’ll be making lists and gathering last minute details for my trip to Virginia next week. I still can’t believe it’s time and so looking forward to being with and learning from some other incredible mothers. This trip really is such a gift in so many ways. And for those of you who have asked–yes, I’m feeling a tad nervous about the speaking part of the conference–a good nervous though. Besides, it’s healthy to be a little uncomfortable with new things, with unknowns. It always lends perspective of my own smallness in the world–a good lesson I think.

I hope to bring back sharing my favorite spots and finds around the web again–the “there” part of these posts. I hope you enjoy and have a great weekend, everyone!

There and elsewhere:





September 2014



fidelis studio | holiday card mini-sessions

Written by , Posted in COLLABORATION


Kristen and I announced our holiday card mini-session dates and details today. These 15 minute sessions are designed for clients who want a few fresh images without the cost of a full session. You’ll find a few important details of what’s included below and can contact us here with any additional questions. If you’re in the Central Texas area and are interested, here are the dates of where you’ll find us:


Dallas, TX :: October 18

Fort Worth, TX :: October 19

 Bryan/College Station, TX :: November 01

Bryan/College Station, TX :: November 08

Waco, TX :: November 15



15 minute session

$50 sitting fee to reserve

5-8 edited  images to select from the same day

holiday card, digital, + print collections beginning at $220

Please check out the original post for more details, and of course, feel free to contact either Kristen or me with any additional questions. And now for the cooler weather. (Wink.)



September 2014




Written by , Posted in MOTHERHOOD + MARRIAGE


As you turn a year older, Liam, and slip into what, in reality, is the last half of your time at home with us, we want to use these years both to hold you more closely and fling you forward into your destiny, the person God has had in his heart long before we did. I love seeing the person you are becoming, the child slowly becoming the man. May freedom and courage always grow in your adventurous heart. Happy birthday.