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.
Last week, I sprained my ankle while running with the kids. It was silly really–a moment of looking back to check on the younger girls while my feet still carried me forward right into one of my sons. I ended up rolling over my foot and planting onto the road–not one of my better moments. Over the last several days, we’ve improvised much around here, and I’ve realized I take for granted how much my body intuits the needs around our home, my hands and feet working in different ways to accomplish similar tasks.
Honestly, it’s been a little frustrating breaking that coordinated activity this week, moving at half pace. In slowing down, I have had to work more intentionally or, even at times, not to work at all. As a result, the house has been messier and meals have taken longer. I have needed to direct each of my children more often, teaching them how to complete my usual tasks–I can see their accomplishment when they do so.
Olive begged me to take her hiking this weekend. I sadly reminded her of my injury, pointing to my wrapped foot and crutches. Instead, we opted to play and explore our backyard, a more manageable space for me to navigate. We both dressed, brushed our teeth (water spots are still on her shirt), and headed out into the cool morning for a little alone time together.
I hobbled behind her, as we observed the different plant life and patterns. I watched as she studied this space in a new way, seeking new hiding spots, swinging from and old grapevine in the trees. As an adult, I often forget how simple outdoor play can be, how much wonder still exists right in our backyard. As my body heals and I can do more again, I know I’ll be grateful for this simple reminder to slow down, for this small, simple adventure just out our door.
This post is in partnership with Alpine Baby Co., handmade organic clothing for little adventurers. Olive’s wearing a top and bottom from their new Fall/Winter collection.
“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014″
liam // Your birthday–the one when you turn eleven–is this week. You have always been an old soul, so in many ways this feels natural, a physical move toward who you have always been inside. It’s still shocking for me. This week I sprained my ankle and had to use crutches. You were so helpful, quick to do the small ordinary tasks for me, like making my coffee or Olive’s lunch. I so enjoy seeing who you are becoming.
burke // I have said before, but you are the most introverted of your siblings, which can be precarious for you situated only a year and a half on either side between two highly verbal and assertive personalities. Daily I try to offer you some guarded solitude, where you will most likely cuddle in your bed and read, play Legos, or simply stare out the window.
blythe // It’s common for parents to take images of baby feet, trying to remember their smallness. This week you laid on the couch, your feet tucked together like a newborn–now, a little bigger and dirty from running barefoot outdoors.
olive // You’re enjoying reading more and more each day, practicing your sight words and beginning readers with eagerness.
When I first mentioned the Wild+Free conference here in May, the fall seemed so distant. We were in the midst of planning a summer of home projects and wrapping up the previous school year. So much has happened since then, but it’s now here. September. Fall. I’m still in shock. The conference is now only two weeks away, and I’ve been excitedly gathering notes and anticipating some of the incredible women I’ll be meeting there.
In case you missed it, this week Wild+Free launched a new subscription–monthly “content bundles”–created to inspire and encouraging homeschooling mothers internationally. Right now, you can download the first issue, PRAIRIE, for free! It includes beautiful projects, stories, images, and practical helps from so many impassioned mothers. You’ll even find a bit of our own homeschool in there each month, too, so go check it out! (Wink.)
It can often seem a small thing to say thank you. As a parent, I coach my children with these words regularly, “say thank you,” whether for a meal, a day, a gift. When they begin to turn to complaints of boredom or inconvenience or unfulfilled wants, I listen and often respond, “I hear you. Now tell me something you’re thankful for.” Mostly, in those moments, they’re annoyed and mutter their list with long exasperation. I can feel the same way when I’m enjoying a good moment of self-pity. Still, each time, it shifts something in their little hearts, even if it’s just enough to help them over an invisible hump and direct them onward.
I have recently been dwelling on the 23rd Psalm, poetic lines so common I almost miss their significance. Here, we read the ways God shepherds us: how he protects us in dark valleys and leads us into rest by quiet waters, how he restores us and prepares feasts for us in the midst of enemies. ”Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all of the days of my life,” the psalmist adds. Perhaps this is where I have paused the most lately, allowing these words to roll around my heart, to steep. Goodness follows us. Every. Day.
Generally, it feels easier for me to give thanks when circumstances happen the way I want, when life feels smooth and pleasureful. Yet in a culture that allows me daily visual peeks into friends’ and strangers’ lives alike, I can easily become wedged in by that want. Instead of gratitude, my thoughts and sight can become directed to lack, to struggle, to the hard things. I can become frantic inside, afraid I won’t get what I want, what I need. In better moments, I’ll remind myself that everyone has difficulties to overcome even when we don’t see or know about them. I remember the sweet people in our lives who have helped and given of themselves to us. I remember God’s faithfulness and provision for me, for our family. But sometimes I hit places where circumstances feel insurmountable, that I’ve somehow missed a sign leading us to [healthier, easier, wealthier, etc] lives. In these places, gratitude is a discipline. The practice of thanking God or other people in our life is a way to train my eyes and heart to see the gain instead of the deficit, the gifts instead of the loss. Gratitude focuses my attention to goodness. It teaches me that pleasure and goodness are not always the same. Goodness follows us where pleasure cannot: into the hard things. Every day.
I can hardly believe it’s September already, the beginning of my favorite season. Soon enough, we’ll be bundling up in blankets and using our outdoor fire-pit again. The leaves will change color and everywhere people will be talking about pumpkins and turkeys and gatherings. Since everyone can use a little something–or a few little somethings–to spruce up their fall wardrobe, I am joining the fall fashion giveaway Janee organized with several other bloggers. This year I hope to add a new clutch, fall hat, and oversized cardigan to my own closet–you know how I love those oversized sweaters. (Wink.)
By entering below, you can win a $450 gift card to the shop of your preference. Fun, yes? The giveaway will run today through September 15 and is open to all international readers. Best of luck to you all!
I popped out of town this last week for an impromptu get-a-way to visit my parents and catch-up with my sister-in-laws and a few long-time friends from college (the reason for the lag in posts here). Regardless of organizing our school materials and space, I was having a somewhat difficult time transitioning to the fall semester, feeling denial that summer is really coming to a close. Even though it will be a while before our weather cools to fall temperatures, our routine is shifting toward academics again. Mark has returned to his classes and we are slowly creeping into our own. This little trip was just the thing I needed to reset my spirit and preparation for a new year.
“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014″
liam // I bought you all running shoes this week so we could run together. Each morning after breakfast you remind me, “let’s stretch. It’s time to run.” You hate tying your shoes though. Here you grimace trying to slip on your already-tied shoes, a trick to save time. I’m unsure if it does.
burke // We bought you a guinea pig when you turned seven. You have loved Squeak and taken good care of her. In the last several months, your interest in her has waned and I regularly have to remind you to take care of her. This week you wrote me a letter explaining that Squeak deserved better treatment than you could give her right now. It was the sweetest, most thoughtful note. You also wore this foam dinosaur visor the entire time at the science and history museum. I love your honest nature and hope you will cherish it always.
blythe // You began a new level in ballet this week and are thrilled to be learning new and more complex movements. Although you are whimsical and imaginative, you are focused in all you do, whether learning ballet or playing a new instrument on the playground.
olive // You skipped through the water carefully holding your dress to protect it from the water. You kept it dry so that you could ride in Nina’s car afterward–a thoughtful plan.