two new jars


The past several Saturdays have been the work of catching up. Putting away Christmas, making room for new possessions, addressing all the issues that were put aside for a time. This Saturday feels more like a maintenance day. A few loads of laundry, picking up bedrooms, making sure the tidied living room is staying that way.

The kids have their Saturday chores every week. They mostly consist of making improvements to their personal spaces.  Headboard bookshelves, the tops of the dressers, all these nooks accumulate disorder over the course of a week. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but they at least have to try and put forth an effort.

They are all now working on other things. One is researching line-ups for a ball game. One is clean and showered, now resting comfortably in a chair with a book. One is testing out his new woodworking tools, asking to make trips back and forth to the picnic shelter shed with the pile of wood scraps. One strapped a pair of pliers onto his belt, and wants to head to the garage. Another plunks away at the piano for a while, then wants to join his brothers. Dad is next door at a dream session work retreat with the camp board.

(I’m sitting here typing.)

My point is that every single person in my family right now is fully engaged in something they truly love and want to do. Before I sat down to my computer, I was momentarily in that soul-state of floating around in frustration, wondering what my place in all of this was. Breakfast isn’t cleaned up, and lunch is soon approaching. Not a single place in this house is in a state where it couldn’t stand to be improved or worked on in some manner. Everybody else can seemingly walk away from this place with no mental attachments.

(I’m still writing about it).

Living with other people does not mean you do not get to have a life. I’ve spent a lot of time in the head space of “Apparently SOMEbody can’t have a life around here, and that default person appears to be me???” All the human beings closest to me in this world right now are doing something separate, apart from me, and they are happier for it.

There’s the kind of work, where like my little one this morning honestly asks, “What’s my prize?” And then there’s the work where work itself is the reward.


the obvious

Let me point out the obvious good things. We live on over 225 acres of land, in a much bigger-than-it-looks-from-the-front sized house, and are surrounded by nature, which are all things I love.

So when I find myself feeling socially isolated–unfulfilled–as of late, I’m back to that place of wondering why.  Articles all over the internet say that loneliness kills, and for a while I feel justified.

Isn’t this kind of what the monks used to do?

I know I’ve had warped views on what it means to serve God. I still believe in being spiritually trained and pruned, but not by the means of a self-imposed effacement. It is good to be a human.

So when is God calling for the actual death of me and when is He calling for the moving, breathing, heart-beating life of me?  But now why ask myself? Why am I now asking the blank page and not Him?

God is there, and I think this is where I am going with this. Loneliness, deadly as it is, cannot kill me.  It hasn’t killed me yet, and it this point, isn’t going to. Sufferings–ha!–are immortality’s shadows.

If only you could see the view, friends.

So much towers above me up there!




whole30 week two

When my daughter and I got home from swimming, Dad had all four boys ready to head down to the lake. I normally go to the Y by myself, but I invited my daughter along in case she was looking to do something different. More than the younger kids, preteens seem to get bored after awhile, like they’re just beginning to sense, and really wonder, what other options are out there in life. The boys waited for us girls to eat lunch, and then we bundled up in our gloves and snow pants to join them. I went along, not because I particularly wanted to, but because I thought it’d be good for me somehow.


Again, after lunch today we made it outside, this time just the four kids and me.  I admit that my main reason for this was to do something active since I wasn’t going to try and squeeze in the Y today. It was 25 degrees when we left the house, so not too bad considering the single digits and teen temps from the previous days. We stayed out a lot longer than I planned to, and diverged from the course I’d outlined at the beginning. Because of that we ended up taking the prayer trail, and from the prayer trail we could see from a whole woods length away, that not only had the creek overflowed from the frighteningly high river, but the earthen floor of the woods was now covered in ice.


I let them walk along the crunchier shallow parts, but didn’t let them anywhere near the moving creek. I tried to tell them that sometimes amazing things in life are meant to be witnessed, seen, appreciated, and admired, but not necessarily fully experienced.


Week two of Whole30 could be summed up with my main thoughts being, “Okay, well, that was fun. Moving on…” The book says week two is the week when most people quit and I can say I can definitely see why that’s true. There’s nothing wrong with the food you’re eating, you’re just ready to go back to things you’re not eating. Social settings seem to be the most difficult to “stick to it”, and there have been several times, the barely attended church potluck for example, where I tried to make the most Whole30 compliant choices with what was there and didn’t worry about the dairy in the white sauce.


I want to stick with it though, so into the waffle-less protein-rich breakfasts of week three it is. Thankfully the carb cravings have greatly subsided. I never got hangry like they mentioned, but I felt dry-mouthed and thirsty, and thought about certain foods all the time. I probably have more thoughts about all this somewhere, but I’m also just living my regular life, where I don’t always take the time for deep or detailed introspection.




on becoming trees

The after-Christmas house is slowly coming back together. The bulk of the sifting and sorting falls to me, but after lunch I did exhort the kids to “go and make an improvement somewhere”. Yesterday one of the boys cleaned his side of the closet and straightened out his hangers. Today the two little boys put away the piles of laundry they’d folded.

My head space feels a bit scattered as of late, and really, scattered does not feel like the right word at all. Wide open is more the description I’d use. I have no interests that I’m currently pursuing. When I walk into the library, I browse my usual non-fiction corner, check out the bookshelf with the new releases, decide there is nothing I want then leave.

My Whole30 cookbook is a week overdue. It’s funny how different the librarians are. The one we know best and is there in the day doesn’t usually bring up the amount of my fines. I’m almost certain she’s even wiped them out several times, because $4-5+ fines have disappeared when I did not remember paying them. There’s another one who is nice as well, but she lets me know, and did let me know this last time that I owed $0.40.

The kids like to check out movies when we go. They’re currently finishing up The Silver Chair from an older Chronicles of Narnia BBC movie set. I approve the movies, but usually don’t watch them unless we’ve all planned to watch a movie together. Television time throughout their childhood has always been a time for me to get other things done.

Speaking of television, we’ve had some really great evenings the past week going over to my in-law’s house to watch the Jeopardy Greatest of All Time Tournament. Ken Jennings is the one I was rooting for, because he was the only one of the three that I remembered. I think we all drove away feeling sad it was over. I’m thankful for fun TV times like that.

Homeschooling continues to be a work and a joy. I will say that I definitely went into this underestimating the challenge of keeping up with multiple children, subjects, and grades. I kind of expected us to breeze through the basics, leaving plenty of time to explore all my books, do science experiments, and go on regular educational field trips.

We spend most of our time on the basics right now, and as I think of it, so do I. Being a mother has been a vocation of being immersed in the basics. It seemed for a while like the basics were something you were supposed to move beyond. A long time immersed in the basics can surely make one start to feel like there is no actual “movement” at all.

I think, instead, I’m actually living in a tree, or becoming like a tree. Trees do not move, in fact, they will stay in one place their entire lives. But they grow, and expand, and spread out, and every year their leaves are different. I love that now, I get to be a tree.

whole30 week one

It’s become a tradition to make cinnamon rolls for the kids Christmas morning. This tradition was inspired by a cookbook I bought from one of our old school’s book fairs. The recipe called to make your own dough, but I always used store-bought canned cinnamon rolls. I was not in a season of life where making dough seemed realistic.

This year we wanted to try something different. I thought we were in a place where making out own dough might be a fun project to work on. We told this to the nice older lady who works part time in the camp office, and she suggested we try the Pioneer Woman cinnamon roll recipe. I had just received a Christmas Pioneer Woman magazine from my friend Norma, and in the magazine was her recipe for cinnamon rolls.

We tested it out and decided it would work. The one thing we weren’t keen on was the frosting. We kept it in the fridge anyway in case we didn’t end up finding something different. One of the pre-Christmas grocery items included two cans of cinnamon rolls to have on hand just in case the other ones didn’t turn out. We made the dough up on Christmas Eve, and they were ready to bake Christmas morning. We ended up using the frosting that came along. with the store bought rolls. They turned out beautifully.

The Whole 30 program claims to help with changing your “relationship with food.” Before I even started this, one of the things I noticed about not eating gluten was that it eliminated the foods that I experience guilt with.  For example, I could have a wonderful cinnamon roll experience prior to eating them, but even after saying, “I’ll only have two”, I will eat the two, and then start thinking, “I shouldn’t have eaten these.” It is great to have relief from the feelings of guilt, but I still very often think about these foods.

I want food to be a source of enjoyment. I always thought it was weird when you’d see these cook women on tv and they’d talk about how much they looooooooved food. I didn’t think I loved food, at least not like that. But I’m thinking now that I actually do, I love food.  I love warm bread with butter, and hot apple pie. I love brownies with only a small scoop of ice cream. I love oatmeal, waffles, and Cracker Barrel pancakes. My sister and I keep each other in the loop, texting daily about what we are eating. It is very, very true what the tv cooks say.  Food brings us together, and that is what I love most.