It will be another month before the leaves begin to fall and the Autumn season remains–my favorite part of the year. Until then, we’re waiting, preparing our home with Fall scents, tastes, and sounds. We’re spending more of our days outdoors and tracing the shifting light indoors. Each season, our home comes alive in a new way, and I’m grateful. Here’s a few sounds floating through our space these days, a mixture of rhythms reflecting the variety of this season–and the perfect way to begin a new week, I think. Happy Monday.
My Mind was a Fog Hammock | From Gold Novo Amor | Maneater Grace Mitchell | Over My Head Caveman | Cloudline Joesph | Hard as Nails Peter Wolf Crier | Closer JMR | Always Panama | Ram’s Head Seawolf |South Racing Glaciers
“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014″
liam // You have been reading voraciously and are enjoying taking this pleasure outdoors again. You also began writing an illustrated book this week, full of heroism and imagination. I’m not surprised.
burke // We spent this week mostly outdoors, and while the rest of us sprawled on blankets in the backyard, you chose to complete your work on the front porch alone. I’m learning to respect your deep need for quiet and solitude.
blythe // You picked out a book at the library, “How to Talk to Mom,” a few days ago. I laughed inwardly but also took it as a sign that you’re growing older and are ready for deeper connections.
olive // You have crawled into my bed and lap more often this week for snuggles, still catching up from my absence last week.
I am still mentally swirling from my extended weekend trip to Virginia. As expected, the whole experience was both invigorating and exhausting, filling and depleting. I had forgotten the simplicity of traveling alone, the refreshment of an unplugged life, the disorientation of mingling in a sea of people I didn’t previously know in the flesh. That last part, of course, has now changed. Over the weekend, we heard several different stories of motherhood. Naomi discussed ways to live in joy in the hard parts; Kelsey shared about the importance of community/sisterhood instead of competition; Kirsten gave us direction for environmental consciousness in our parenting; Tiffany talked about protecting our time/life margins to focus on what’s really the most life-giving and important; Terri shared several “pillars” or foundations for their homeschool; and I shared about the importance of vision as an educator and mother, the ways we set goals in our home, and how most importantly, we focus our attention to the day–”now is now,” a phrase from the last part of Little House in the Big Woods. In the afternoon, Michelle shared about the power of art and Stephanie shared about the myth of the balanced life. All weekend, we mingled together over delicious food, including vegetable lasagna with music by The Last Bison followed by s’mores in a garden courtyard the first evening and a garden party dinner the last. In the afternoon, I enjoyed leisure conversations with other mothers in the hotel gardens and lounges and then packed into a tiny car with new friends and headed to the misty, windy coast. The weekend details arranged by Ainsley were thoughtful and dreamy–I am so grateful.
It seems weird that I didn’t take many images last weekend. Leaving home, I knew my soul needed to recharge, to restore. I wanted perspective and vision for our family, as an educator, a mother, a woman. I needed to put aside my shared visual and written experiences to allow the words and images to soak in through my other senses. To hear. To taste. To feel. I wanted the varied wisdom, stories, and connections to percolate within me, without needing to immediately process them. Each will certainly impact our home. Bit by bit. And I am grateful.
This weekend, I plan to move slowly, lingering in PJs, making some treats with the kids, and setting more specific goals for our academic year. That’s right. Even in near October, we have yet to move fully into our school routine. A younger version of myself might have been panicked, but I’m learning with age and maturity to move and plan with the seasons life brings us instead of artificially imposing my own. My children have spent more time creating through art and food and mess these last several months. They have read/listened to books and practiced their math a bit, too. The rest will come soon. For now, we’re right where we need to be.
I 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.
“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.
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.
“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.