year-round schooling

The boys are outside playing a game and my daughter is cuddled up reading a book. Typically by now we’ve got another month of school left before we break for summer.  This year’s school has felt different.  We haven’t spent nearly as much time in the school room this year, and school in 2019 has taken place mostly at the dining room table.

We barely went on any field trips this year and Sister Tabitha has been visiting her aunt in Europe for almost two years.  She hasn’t written a single letter, made any surprise visits, or taken any of the children or cats through the drive-through for hot chocolate.  I guess I’m acknowledging that in some ways I slacked.  It’s not that we didn’t do school, we did. I just didn’t put the same effort and energy into being fun teacher-mom this year. I felt, in some ways, like my heart wasn’t totally in it.  I don’t know where my heart was.

I knew this would happen, and it’s been happening gradually.  School is looking less and less like school and more and more like living life. I am not completely against this, and in fact, living life is exactly how I want to be spending our days in these tender years of growing up.  I just do not want the magic to fade.  I do not want to stop putting my heart and my soul into the things and the people that mean and matter the most to me.

I told the kids we’d take a week or two off around Memorial Day, but then we’d continue on throughout the summer.  The ones at camp during the week can do camp, but the ones who aren’t at camp can do school for a bit here and there while they’re home.  We’ll continue taking tiny bites of math and keep on reading Dr. Suess and Fly High Fly Guy. Though I feel in many ways I could have done more, I am satisfied with the progress we’ve made in school this year.  Another one is reading now. (!!!)  Math is going well.

Monday after Easter, I drove up to my mom and dad’s house to help celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday.  The kids stayed home with my husband, not because I didn’t want them all to come, but because it was going to be a quick trip there and back and I thought it would be better to make the trip alone.  They ran errands with dad, went out to lunch, and watched Aquaman later that night.  My husband texted me a picture of the kids in the evening.  After they’d finished getting the boats out of storage they finally had their chance to test out their new swimming trunks, towels, and goggles from Grandma. I wasn’t even upset that they’d taken their first swim of the season without me. I felt proud.

(Way to go, kids, that’s the way!)

goodness friday

Holy week comes around once a year.  I find myself still adjusting to these Lutheran, liturgical traditions.  Easter growing up was a time for fun baskets and matching dresses with my sisters.  I do not actually remember those times, only the pictures of them.

Lent for me is becoming a “leaning in” to the end of winter.  Holy week here is totally different from where we came from.  I don’t mean to make every telling a comparison to the previous times in life, but it’s almost as if I cannot help it.  With every year comes the older memories of previous years.  With every year I find an even lovelier hope.

I remember Lent being such a long and lonely time.  This year we keep talking about how fast Lent has flown.  Holy week in Hoyleton was always something I wanted to be special, and it was, but it was special in a different way.  It was more of a private and personal journey than a memorable family one.  I learned more from the Lenten Scripture readings than I did at any other time in the year.  I still remember the time my mind was blown when I first realized Jesus was crucified on the same day as Passover.

How in the world had I never before known this???

Our church holds evening services every evening in Holy Week.  From Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday you could go to church ten times if you include both Easter services.  It’s something we look forward to every night as a family, not in the sense that we’re jumping for joy with excitement to go to church, but it’s just the thing everyone knows we’re going to do.  I try to set apart the days here at home, with some palm leaves here, and a crown of thorns there.  But Lent doesn’t come nearly as naturally for me.

I still don’t like it.

But every new year I am happy it comes.







Christmas four seasons

It was Palm Sunday evening when the sky spoke of summer, the winter came in snows, and the grasses glowed gold in the spring neon green. Unless you are counting the thousands upon thousands of leaves on the beds of the forest, or the towering trees in the distant horizon, the remnants of fall were nowhere to be seen.

If I sit at the screen for too long without typing, the computer screen goes dark and the darkness reveals the morning face of my reflection.  I am startled by the view, but not surprised, and not preoccupied with the dislikes of what I see. My color seems pale and the light in my eyes appears dim and far away.  I’d rather not look.

My Narnia lamp is all that remains of Christmas cheer, and lest I go on speaking in the language of lack, I glance behind me, see the lamppost, and smile.  The living room is dark, and books and toys are strewn about. I have neither dread nor strong excitement for the day.  The twinkling white lights look very much to me like stars.





asian honey suckle

In the few minutes before piano lessons began, the teacher and I exchanged pleasantries. Life had happened here and there for her and for me and three weeks had passed since we’d had piano lessons.  I asked her how her appointment had gone. “Great!”, she said, feeling much, much better than she’d been feeling a week ago.  She asked me how I was doing and if anything was new with me.  “Good!”, I replied, and then, “Uhhhh”, trying to think if there was anything else to add, “The grass is getting greener by the hour!”

I wasn’t that excited about that greening of the grass, but at the time, it was the only thing I could think of to say. This isn’t the first time someone has asked me questions about how we’re doing or what’s been going on and my answers tend to be, even when said warmly, rather blank and simple.  “Oh, I don’t know…that’s a good question…just life I guess.” Yesterday it made me wonder if so many years of private-at-home living hasn’t somehow stunted my social growth or caused my conversation muscles to atrophy.

The grass truly is getting greener by the hour.  In spring grass gives off a neon glow that it doesn’t possess in the deeper greens of summer.  The other day I gave up once more on trying to establish anything other than the acceptable “just life” order and condition of the house, and went outside to see what I could find to do out there.  I raked some leaves and the older boys helped me clear away some of the weedy brush that grows in every inch of the woods.  I considered dedicating the entire spring to clearing out that hill.

It’s grey and damp again this morning, although my weather app says it’s supposed to get into the seventies today and the wind is supposed to pick up later this afternoon.  Last night, before bed, the little boys asked if we could have a pajama day for school this morning.  I said, “Sure.” Pretty soon we’ll put away the flannel Batman pajamas and they’ll sleeping and running around in their shorts.  I’ve got my “Thursday” notes here beside me and the next thing is breakfast.  Pancakes and fried apples coming right up.



so will I

Spring always finds me in a lack of readiness to wake up.  The kids are already fishing, playing baseball in the yard, and I’ve thoroughly deep cleaned the entryway shoe closet.  The cats are spending more time in the woods and this time of year I take care to make sure that all nine of them get their Resolution flee treatments.  Tom had been our latest addition until winter when the neighbors from across the road moved and left Ghost.

My body feels tired, heavy, and slow.  Camp traffic has been steadily increasing over the past several weeks, and soon, the morel mushroom hunters will be out in full force. There’s kind of an honor system payment method around here, and three times today people have knocked on our door with money to put toward their weekend stay.  It’s weird sharing your home with random strangers, and at the same time, I don’t mind it.

If winter is the time when all the kids are home for Christmas, spring is the time they again begin to leave the nest. It really doesn’t matter what season it is.  Today I’m feeling that acute pain of time’s passing.  It comes and goes. This past week my daughter and I went to to spend a few days with my sister who’s just had her fourth baby.  Little Eoin (pronounced “Owen”) quickly found a place in my heart.  There aren’t many things that I can claim a level of mastered skill, but caring for newborns is a world I deeply know.

My sister texted me a picture of Eoin today, and already, in a matter of days, he’s changed.  I’m not sure why the changing of our children induces painful tears at times. My mom cried when putting away my baby sister’s pink and purple newborn clothes. I can remember with my youngest three boys, being so intimately familiar with the changes of their faces, knowing that this is the one week-old look, then the two-week old look, etc.  I would stare at their faces just trying to keep them forever in my heart.

It’s not all sad though.  Just this morning after church, while he was standing in the doughnut line, I noticed my son’s eyes were closer to mine than they’d recently seemed. He is only now about a half an inch shorter than me, and by the end of the summer, maybe even before, he’ll be taller I’m sure.  This change makes me nearly giddy with delight and wonder.  His hands and his feet are bigger than mine, his calves are thicker than mine, his voice, gradually, is on its way to becoming very different from mine.

You all are so patient to let me talk about these things.  I know I tend to cycle through the same old themes again and again. I wish I could sit down and hear you talk about all that God is doing in your life and how much you are blessed.  Life is so much fun, friends.