cloistered away | enjoying simplicity



June 2014



weekend snippets

Written by , Posted in LATELY, OUR HOME


weekend_01weekend_03The last few months have consisited of moving, living with one bathroom, unpacking, living without a stove, homeschooling, fixing the fridge, unpacking some more, fixing the second bathroom, being without electricity, getting a new stove, building bookshelves, going to soccer games, fixing the fridge again, tearing down walls, going to dance recitals, building out our closet–and as a result, I’ve been struggling to find some work flow here (or anywhere for that matter). Each time I have a few simple days strung together it seems the rug–and all of the construction dust on it–is swept out from under me/us again. Life is dirty and unpredictable right now, and I’m doing my best to go with it.

Last weekend, our good friends (Danny and Buck) helped Mark replace and bring up to code all of the electrical wire in our home. I can’t say enough how impressed I am with them. Over those three days they worked almost 40 hours, finishing after midnight on Sunday night–which meant aside from meal drop-offs, we didn’t see Mark for three days. We also temporarily moved back into Kristen and Tim’s house, which honestly felt a bit like coming home from university. The house was clean, the kitchen in tact, and at the end of the day, we could plop on the couch to watch a movie. Simple pleasures, really. On Saturday, I worked my first wedding with Fidelis (eep!), preparing for an exciting transition with them soon. Kristen and Tim left town for the beach early Sunday morning, and HGTV showed up at their house to film House Hunters with our friends Tiffany and Corey who are moving to town. Yes, that’s right. We spent Sunday filming with them, trying to go about “normal life” with boom mikes and large cameras in our face. Given the circumstances of our real life, I found the whole situation horribly ironic. The kids loved it though. The camera crew generously shared  information about their equipment and jobs with them and helped make the experience memorable.

At some point between the cameras and running food/drinks to Mark and the other guys,  I noticed a tiny, collarless puppy wandering our driveway. The kids jumped out of the car, scooped her up, and pleaded to keep her. We took care of her that day and night, but ultimately I had to make the cold-hearted decision–no. Sadly, we couldn’t possibly take care of a puppy right now (refer to the first paragraph). The girls sulked a bit until I explained all the care and attention little puppies require. Content with the answer, they ran off to play in the other room, while I  greeted Monday, a welcome rest.





June 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT



“a weekly portrait of each of my children in 2014″

liam // you built a flying ship (complete with propelled wings) for a local Lego exhibition and called it the Flying Fish.

burke // watching you submerge in a friend’s pool this week, I was reminded of Psalm 139, “If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there your hand will lead me.”

blythe // perched from the second floor, you quietly observe the people come and go on the level below.

olive // you and Blythe volunteered to read with a therapy dog, Duchess, this week. You were afraid of not knowing all the words, but Duchess didn’t mind. Kristen bought you and Blythe matching dresses this week. You both squealed in approval. I can’t get over how much you look alike.



June 2014




Written by , Posted in MOTHERHOOD + MARRIAGE



I remember the night you called me, your voice awkward and intentional, “I need to see you. We need to talk.” I assumed it was the end of us, what little of us existed after a date and a smattering of lengthy conversations. I couldn’t imagine otherwise what could be so pressing. I sat at the kitchen table in my PJs, making notes on Waiting for Godot or some other drama, distracted by the waiting, pretending to ignore the looming let down. When you arrived, you sat by my side and asked to walk with me in the night, a privacy I didn’t feel necessary for a “let’s just be friends” conversation. I was annoyed but obliged anyway. I did love your friendship and wanted to pretend that was enough. We strolled the vacant street together slipping in and out of shadows for a mile before you stopped by a pond and asked me to marry you. Thousands of words spilled into that night, but thirteen years later all I can seem to remember is “yes.”


The terrain of marriage rises and falls like those golden Californian hills. Yet somewhere on that misty, unknown horizon, oak trees grow. Their misshapen and varied limbs raise to the sky, rooted and strong.



June 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT



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

liam // you couldn’t believe how close the seagulls flew to you, wanting to snatch you lunch. A few times they succeeded.

burke //exhausted from wave jumping, you covered yourself in the dry, warm sand, like a blanket.

blythe // you were so happy to be with your cousins, building sand castles and jumping in the fierce waves together.

olive // wind blown, you jumped fearlessly in the ocean, retreating to shallower waters when you met the water’s strength.




June 2014



kitchen phase 01 | paint it white

Written by , Posted in OUR HOME

As most of you know, we closed on a new (very old) home on Valentine’s Day of this year. Covered in 50 year old dingy carpet, layers of aged wallpaper, a pink bathroom, a dark, inefficient kitchen, and a yard overgrowing it all, this 100 year old property needed work. But of course we loved the price-point and the structure beneath it all: 10 foot ceilings throughout, the simple design and floor-plan, the front porch, and cozy nature of the property. We knew over time, we could change the other things. So we tore out the carpet, scrubbed and sealed the floors, pealed off wall paper, sanded walls, and painted everything white (except the wood floors). Literally.

For the sake of seeing the entire process, I’m going to back up a bit on our current kitchen project. This is what the kitchen looked like on closing day: drippy faucet, dirty sink and tile countertops, brown painted built-ins, off-white laminate flooring, no dishwasher or microwave, a really fantastic vintage stove/oven that didn’t fully work, and a serious lack of counter space.   kitchen_before-1kitchen_before-2kitchen_before-3kitchen_before-4

Before we moved in, our goal was simply to brighten the overall aesthetic of the kitchen with paint and wait for a larger remodel until next year. This was phase 01: paint everything white (even the tile countertops which we knew would peel) and remove the cabinet doors and the weird shelf on the partial wall. Our home warranty replaced the stove/oven (but we kept the old one to eventually restore) and we found a cheap, simple fridge on Craigslist to use (since we sold our previous with our last home).


Can we just pause for a moment and discuss the power of paint? Seriously. Paint makes such a powerful impact on a space. We used Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace in the Eggshell Finish and painted the built-ins with oil-based semi-gloss in the same color.  Although we originally planned to pause here, if you follow me on Instagram, you know we didn’t. I’ll share more photos and story later this week.



June 2014



finding boundaries

Written by , Posted in LATELY


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Time has stopped almost entirely here these last two months. Offline, we are fumbling through changes again, wrapping up our school year (finally), beginning new and larger home projects, and still trying to find that unclear balance between so many roles. A dear friend recently commented to me, referring to the comical amount of activites her kids were involved in, ”This was suppose to be easier. I was a hard-ass, draw-the-line mom before I had kids.” I laughed aloud–not just the LOL or ”crying I’m laughing so hard” emoticon either–a rich, from the gut laughter at how easily the lines of modern life blur between shoulds and shouldn’ts, needs and wants, and that in life which is mine, theirs, yours, and ours.

Honestly, I really love the internet, this space, and the relationships I’ve made here, but sometimes it smudges those boundaries even more, twisting my priorities and perspectives more than I want to admit. I’ve needed some room to find those lines again, to remember the parts of me that give substance within this somewhat hazy online world. Although this sort of silence is never popular and entirely antithetical to the social part of social medias, it has been healthy for me to put aside my phone and camera more often recently, to actually read the books on my nightstand, to choose slower-to-make whole foods over the more quickly made processed ones, to switch off the computer and be with Mark, to study the clouds for shapes and stories instead of the weather, to have pillow-fights and watch movies with the kids, to share weekends and drinks with friends.

I now have several backlogged portraits of my children and  images of our home projects to share soon. Thank you all for your patience in this process and for the many ways you inspire me to bravery and courage. Happy Friday to you.



June 2014



on change

Written by , Posted in SOUL


I have always considered myself a lover of change. A new soap scent, a different routine, a fresh arrangement of furniture in a room. Those are the fun changes, the ones I initiate to give fresh experience to something that might otherwise be growing stale. But sometimes change happens to us without our consent, without our knowing. It sneaks up and swipes out our feet, forcing us to adapt and modify our lives to a new perspective (albeit sometimes on our face), to move on, to survive. And sometimes, even then, outside of our own comfort and realm of choice, we find beauty and goodness where we never expected, in an evening walk, a generous gift, or the words of a friend. We learn something new about ourselves, about one another, about God. We grow.

This last year has contained a domino effect of change for our family, beginning with an unexpected financial catastrophe a year or so prior. Last Spring, we sold our home (which we had almost entirely renovated), invested our profits in a rental property, moved in with my sister + brother-in-law sharing their mortgage and bills for the year, worked every extra freelance job the two of us could (including Mark’s full-time teaching job), saved every extra bit we could without starving, bought a hundred year-old home for a tad more than some might by a brand new luxury car, and now are slowly renovating it. All with our four kids.

As I’ve been thinking about this past year’s changes for our family, I’ve wondered what little nuggets I’ve learned and might pass to someone else face-planted by change. The list below is for me to remember and for you, just in case you ever find yourself needing it:

:: be honest :: Admit you’re hurting or disappointed about things not happening the way you anticipated. After I had each of my children, my body would convulse uncontrollably from shock and heat loss, naturally. Difficult changes can often cause the same response emotionally, or they did for me. Being honest about my hurt or fear always connects me to Jesus and to others. Honesty reminds me I’m not alone.

:: hope :: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both secure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us” (Heb. 6:19-20). These words have been life for me. It’s good to feel anchored in change, to have a sense of your soul’s belonging , especially when your physical self feels so transient.

:: slow down :: It’s ok to put aside extra commitments, to allow a different pace for yourself and your family. If you have children, make time to hear from each of them. Each of our children has responded differently to all of this change, but all of them have needed extra affection, extra time to be with us.

:: dream together :: Dreaming aloud, reminds us we are in this together–as a couple, as a family. It helps us form goals and learn from one another in the process.