It’s been a sobering past couple of days. I’m still trying to process the latest local and nationwide coronavirus news which includes the shutting down of IL schools statewide for the next two weeks. Official word came out of the local news tonight that our area hospital now has two confirmed cases.

It takes a while for everyone to unify on these things. I think the time for toilet paper jokes has ended, and we all need to realize nonchalance is not courage, nor is taking action acting in fear. I don’t want to panic, or blow anything out of proportion. Nobody wants to be the boy who cried wolf.

For now though I’m planning on taking this seriously. About a week and a half ago one of my brothers sent out a text to all of the siblings telling us that if we weren’t already, we needed to start paying attention to coronavirus news. I’m glad he did because I wasn’t paying attention before.

I am now though, friends, and hope you are too.

Let’s keep these evolving situations in our prayers.

in the margins

Writing gets me out of bed in the morning. I’ve said this to my husband every morning for the last several weeks, half-way as a joke and as a way to make fun of the question, “What’s that thing that gets you out of bed?” you hear whenever people talk in books or podcasts about finding your passion. The other half is simply the stark truth. When that alarm goes off and the first thought I have is, “I can write now”, I’m instantly up and moving.

Yesterday morning began with one of the boys dry heaving off the side of his bed. We haven’t had any major stomach bugs during this latest 7-month sickness season that begins in October and goes until April. There does seem to be at least one of us who ends up on the couch with a bucket for a day. By the end of the day he was up and playing and asking for food.

Another one has a cough and fever. Two sick kids was enough for me to call-off my daughter’s 13th birthday dinner plans to go to Cracker Barrel with my in-laws. We were already down one brother whose baseball practice had been rescheduled for the evening instead of after school. My focus with coughs is encouraging them to cough and take deep breaths.

When my husband and daughter left after the impromptu beef stew for home supper, I took the boys out for a quick trip into town. I told them they could bring a movie. They stayed in the van and watched Aquaman while I ran into Walgreens for girl birthday wrapping paper and the grocery store for cat food, first aid supplies, and items for today’s birthday dessert.

I’m feeling scattered this week, just like last the haphazardness I mentioned in the week before. I thought at first it was the week, but now I’m realizing it’s the season. Winter is ending and spring is “just around the corner”. We had a two-day rendezvous with maple tree tapping and making syrup. Groups are back in the camp buildings and I’ve had two recent times of cooking, shopping, and planning meals for those. Thankfully I’ve not been doing this alone. We combine the shopping trips with a practice pick-up or a Kumon trip for my other son. My daughter comes with me to the kitchen.

I actually meal planned for our family this week, at least for the suppers. Weekly meal-planning is by far the way to go for me. Every time I do it it very much simplifies life and helps me to feel a little more on top of things. The high school has a late start on Wednesdays so that gives me time to make a sit down breakfast. It’s time for something warm and and sweet.

about face

We’re reaching the point of the homeschool year where the kids and I experience a division of energies. After relying on habit to get us through the winter, I now see the end-of-the-year finish line up ahead and want to finish the year strong. The kids see the sun and are ready to play outside.

I’m tired, too. This is just the way it is this time of the year for me, and also with being a mom, I suppose. They’re ready to saw wood, dig holes, paint planks, and build bridges, and I feel like I need the long nap I never took.

We’ll manage. I laugh now thinking about the time a few years ago when I threatened the two older boys with having to go to school. I generally have tried over these years to speak positively about school, both to respect my children’s past, and to respect their possible future. I’m not against school.

But I am pro-childhood. It’s a joy to watch my children grow, day by day, and little by little. I do hope someday we can all look back and see that this was one of the greatest gifts homeschooling gave us, the gift of a childhood.

blood, sweat, tears

The four kids and I took a trip up to visit my parents yesterday. We met up with my sister and her four kids and made a field trip out of going to visit my brother and sister-in-law at their local pizza business. We also got to see my youngest brother and my youngest sister who is now a junior in high school. My mom had a cake for all the recent kid birthdays. It was fun.

I spent a lot of time thinking about my oldest son yesterday. We left at six in the morning, so I didn’t see him before he would get up to leave for school. We wouldn’t get back until later that night, so I wouldn’t be there to hear about how his first day of baseball practice had gone. I wrote him a note before we left, just wanting to acknowledge his first day of practice.

Choosing the words were not as easy as I thought. “Good luck on your first day of practice today!” I did say that, but surely I couldn’t leave it there? What does “luck” mean anyway, and do we even believe in such a thing?

I asked my husband what to write. He said tell him to work hard.

Got it.

Well, that was good and true. Once those words came out it wasn’t hard to tack on a few others like, “have fun”, “be safe”, “be respectful to your coaches and be a good team player and a good friend to others.”

Okay, but now that was too much law.

“I’m proud of you no matter what!”, I thought.

But was I? Could I write those words in good conscience and have them be completely true? Would I really be proud of him no matter what? I could think of several things right away that would not make me proud. Very specifically, I meant whether or not he played or sat the bench. I decided this was true, and worth the risk. Love is the oft the under and underappreciated force.

“I’m proud of you no matter what!”

The rest flowed easily, right from the heart.

“I love you very much and you’re in my prayers!”

on two mountains


O joyful be the passing day
with thoughts as clear as morning’s ray
with faith like noontide shining bright
our souls unshadowed by the night
~O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright~

The Lenten season begins on Wednesday. Our church is in a vacancy, so my husband has picked up some extra pastoral duties, along with the other part-time pastor at our church. He’s got a lot on his plate, but so far it seems to be working out alright. I know he misses being a pastor in some ways, and this gives him more time to do what he enjoys.

I’ve also picked up teaching the high school Sunday School class. We have an average of 2-3 boys who come, one of them being mine. At first I didn’t think that I ought to be the one to volunteer. Having a teenage child in the class made me hesitant. I’m still figuring out this whole teenage mom thing. What’s throwing me off is that it hasn’t quite been like the stereotypes taught me to expect. We’re only two and a half years into this teenager journey, and only on the first child. In other words, I don’t have enough experience to speak in absolutes, but can only report what the experience has been like so far for me.

You never know when something awful is going to happen. There are easily well over five thousand and one scenarios that I could come with for how the passing days of these teenage years could go wrong, but so far I’m enjoying them, and it’s fun watching your kids start to become their own people. I have to say that teaching this class has cured me of some of the Sunday morning dread and loneliness that had become pretty routine for me at church. I’ve struggled to find “connection”, to not feel like I’m just another person going through the hour and fifteen minute Divine Service Setting Three motions. I’d taught the year before in one of the lower grade classes, but I’d been asked to do that. This is something I hesitantly, but willingly volunteered to do, and I’m enjoying it.

Over the weekend, I bought and started reading the book The Second Mountain by David Brooks. He describes life on the first mountain as the life we live trying to make something of ourselves. Going to school. Starting a family. Establishing your career. The goal of the first mountain is success and achievement. Those who get to the top of the first mountain get there only to find that there is yet another mountain beyond them, one they couldn’t see from where they were standing before. Between the two mountains are the valleys of suffering and the wildernesses of wandering and purification. The second mountain goals are very different from the first, with the biggest being that the change has shifted from accomplishment, achievement and bettering ourselves, to centering our lives around four key things: 1) a vocation, 2) spouse & family, 3) a philosophy or faith system, and 4) a community. The second mountain is not defined by goals, so much as it is defined by commitments, the richness of spending a life on others.