“a collection of objects salvaged or created by small businesses around the world”
I love the simplicity of these pieces–the cozy, yet minimal feel. Like winter, they inspire me to prop my feet and snuggle up with a good book and a glass of wine, or even better, handwrite a letter to a friend.
When I first began homeschooling, all of my children were young pre-readers, but of course, if I began working with one child, the others often insisted they have “work” to do as well. This perhaps was the hardest transition for me since obviously I couldn’t help each of them at once, and none of them were old enough to work independently yet. This part has shifted and evolved each year for our family, but one thing I have really loved through the years are folder games. A dear friend was teaching 1st grade at the time and introduced the idea to me. So I began hunting for activities that would be easy to appease my independent pre-readers that could easily be put away when they were finished. I have several of them that I have assembled and keep in a folder box in a cubby. (I printed and laminated my games because I knew so many children would use them. It’s not necessary though.) When they want, the kids pull the box out and begin the game. Here’s one of the days I used Olive’s initiation of a weather matching folder game for an impromptu lesson on weather.
introduction to different types of weather and vocabulary about weather (15-20 minutes)
Olive pulls out the folder game box while I’m working with the older kids. She selects the weather matching activity and begins to pull out the pieces. Intuitively, she begins spreading out the pieces (something all pre-schoolers enjoy!) and realizes they have matches. While she is doing this I quickly grab one of the books we own on weather–I adore this entire science series, by the way. I finish helping the older kids and tell them I’ll be working with Olive for a bit. They’re welcome to join in when the finish. Blythe does. We go through and discuss the weather labels on the cards. Olive then sits in my lap and we read What the Weather Will Be. Some of the information is too specific for Olive, but Blythe enjoys it. We discuss some of the new words together and Olive picks up her cards and puts the folders away.
Every woman at some point stands in front of her closet and wonders what to wear or walks through a shop and wonders if they really need this shirt or dress or whatever. I do this. You too? As we’ve down-sized our home (and closets) and budget this last year, it’s forced me to take a closer look at the pieces in my closet and to consider what I really love and why. Since I have a very tiny personal budget each month, this closet assessing helps me to find new pieces that work well with what I already own and to recognize what’s worth saving for. During this series, I’ll be sharing those pieces from my own closet. Sometimes they will be older, things I’ve owned for a while or thrifted, while other times, I’ll share a more recent essential. In both cases, they are things I love and wear often enough to share. Today, it’s my black oversized cardigan, a piece I’ve dressed up for a wedding and nights out with friends, and something I can just as easily throw over jeans and a t-shirt on a chilly day. Do you wear oversized cardigans? How do you like to wear it? I’d love to hear.
I first began blogging several years ago as a way to share our family with close friends and family not living near us. After having Olive, I took a break, sporadically posting while I adjusted to life with four children and homeschooling. During that interim period, I also reflected on the value and purpose of this space, my own personal goals, and of course, my use of time.
In 2012, I began blogging regularly again. Having clearer vision, I aimed to use words and photographs to record the growth of our family (and myself) in a way that is honest and authentic, hoping to encourage and inspire readers with my own experience. During the last two years, my readership has grown to include new friends and readers internationally. Sometimes, we connect over similar interests and projects and others over matters of the heart. I love this and plan to continue these sort of connections.
This year, I’m excited to announce Cloistered Away will be offering various sponsorships. While there is some controversy about the commercialization of blogs, I have grown to see sponsorship and advertising as a way for me to share brands, artists, and businesses I love with my readers while also helping to support my family. Notice: I will only share products and brands I would wear or use myself, so as a reader these sponsorships will naturally weave together with the already-existing voice and aesthetic at Cloistered Away.
On that note, I am now opening sponsorships for the month of February! If you are interested in working with me, please head over to my sponsor page for more information.
“a weekly portrait of each of my children in 2014″
liam: a few months ago, he gently reminded someone making a racial comment, “I don’t think that’s what Dr. King stood for.” I thought I might cry when I heard this. We were all glad to celebrate such an amazing man this week.
burke: new hair (cut on the driveway this week); old hair resting on his shoulders
blythe: new bangs (also cut on the driveway this week); they make her “feel like a different person inside”
olive: practicing yoga in a hand-me-down dance costume
As a parent, some days seem impossible. My children whine and bicker with one another and with me, refusing generosity and kind words for that ubiquitous I-my-me. They grumble about their work and wish their day away, convinced they are missing the elusive Better–who always seems to be somewhere else, doing something else. And sometimes secretly in my own heart I do the same. When I am careless, these sort of days will swallow me whole, like a serpent and an egg, removing me from the moment into daydreams of Better. I know we all dream of better, a natural progression in life and maturity, but this is Better, the one who finds me (and maybe you) in my ordinary day and taunts me with the idea that I somehow have less, am receiving less.
I felt this impossible swallowing at some point last week and naturally spent a few days trying to adjust and fix [my routine, words, pictures, plans], working harder, when what I really needed was to stop working. Instead, I really needed to reflect and give thanks. Sometimes we really require inspiration and encouragement to move us forward and other times we need to look around and be grateful for what we have. It’s the simplest of lessons, really–one I can easily disregard with a simple “oh yeah, I know.” But true thanksgiving has a way of healing fissures in our soul caused by want. I do this intuitively as a parent when my kids are grumbling with one another or about something they want. “And what are you grateful for? How has someone been generous to you?” I’ll ask, almost rhetorically. Yet, it’s more difficult to self-govern my own heart in these moments.
Honestly, it’s difficult and awkward for me to say these things out loud, to write them here for the world to see. But I hope in sharing this somehow you’ll see that no one is perfect, not even me. I hope that these words comfort you to remember that behind all the beautiful images and stories clouding our various screens, we’re all living by grace and struggling with the various limits of our humanity. We are all wrestling with the idea of Better. I hope that in reading these words you’ll remember to be patient with yourself and those around you and, for a moment, to take inventory of your life and to give thanks.
I have always loved white. My family regularly teases me about it, but I adore how white draws attention away from itself to the details surrounding it, whether it’s an object’s form, the texture and variation within an art piece, or the things and people filling a space, like in this Nordic home. Of course, it can be impractical (especially as a parent) but then again, so are stilettos. (Wink.)
Although it is a simple concept, enjoying the little things can be harder said than practiced. I love the hand-lettering of this print but value the message even more.
Confession: I have the hardest time keeping plants alive, but I love indoor green space. I love succulents for their easy maintenance, and this year, I’m hoping to incorporate more of them into our home. Wouldn’t these plant stands from Ferm Living be perfect to give the succulents more presence?
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know, I’m still braiding (and getting better!). Mostly, I’m inspired by these tutorials but I’m also learning to improvise. I’m hoping to try this side-braid tutorial soon. If I can figure out a way to be consistent, I might even post my own tutorial here. (Fingers crossed.)
I hope this brightens you Monday. What’s inspiring you lately?