circling back around

I’ve got some housework that needs to get done today. My focus this week has been on school work and kitchen work, and while it seems like kitchen work would be included in housework, it’s really not.

This weekend I’m attending an all-day essential oils conference in town. I told my son this and he said, “That exists?” and I said, “Yes, it exists”. Don’t laugh. Because I’m not an entrepreneur, I can’t bring myself to become a seller. But I don’t mind buying them and learning more about what they can be used for.  I’ve had my diffuser going daily for weeks and I love how the clean smells make me feel happy. I’m convinced smell is the most underutilized and underappreciated of all five senses.  What really caught my attention while reading about essential oils is how smells have a direct connection to the parts of the brain associated with emotion and memory.

A friend told me she’d read a Facebook meme saying you can have two of the following things but you can’t have all of them: Sanity, happy kids, and a clean house. I get what they’re saying and find it to be mostly true, but what if a clean house is also tied to your sanity?  I’ve also read a mother is only as happy as her saddest child. Amen. Then you’ve got the added pressure of “If mama ain’t happy then nobody’s happy” and we’re back to nobody being happy again. This is probably why they also say happiness isn’t everything, and shouldn’t be the primary goal of our lives. Where then does that leave us? I’m not the one to tell you that, but God is good, and Jesus reigns.




a lost science

Today we logged our 50th day of school for the year. I feel like we’ve settled into a good routine. In addition to our monthly calendar books, all three boys have reading, writing (copywork), and math work daily. My daughter, who is in 7th grade, has reading, writing (cursive), math, language arts, Bible, and science. I’ve never done a science curriculum with my kids, but I wanted her to have exposure to normal science concepts and terms. She also has a Test Prep book from Barnes and Noble that she works on here and there.

Monday was fun. All of us were cheerful and glad to be in school. School attitudes are actually consistently good. We’ve had harder years with more struggles and tears. The homeschool dynamic of “mom as teacher” puts us all in a position where we need to be more mindful of that balance between encouraging, providing a challenge, and yet, not pushing too hard. My children and I meet each other daily where we’re at, and within that arrangement we all stand tall. Every so often someone has an off or bad day, and I occasionally must redirect a child back to his work, but other that, school isn’t a fight.


There are, as there will be, fights about other things. Kids occasionally get too caught up in each other’s business or get to where they can’t work alone through a conflict. Chores, like yesterday, still need to be done every day. I tire of these times, as all mothers do.


My school goal for November is to keep the school room joyful and lively. The boys have been collecting wood and making fires. We’re talking about and planning our family’s upcoming Thanksgiving. Boston Pop’s Sleigh Ride has started playing from my phone.

The meal plan for this week is going well and I’m on the third day of my gluten elimination. I’m pretty sure this is going to be a permanent change for me. I have not given up, however, on the 5-gallon bucket of red wheat berries from last year. I plan to use it to experiment with another sourdough starter, to see if it makes a difference.

Day light savings gave us different hours of sunlight. I like the fall back much, much better than the spring forward. I enjoy the extra hour of daylight in the mornings, even though that means the night comes sooner. It’s 3:35 and the sun is already starting to set. The boys are out in a leaf pile.



a wild anthem

“The ordinary moments of today are miraculous answers to long ago prayers.”
~Ann Voskamp~

Alright, I’m moving on from this semi-phase of questioning I’ve been in. My goal is clear–keep going. With life. With school. With whomever God places in my forward path today.




phasing out gluten

Because of our busier weekend last week I didn’t do my Saturday morning shopping like I usually do. We had enough to get by until I could make a small mid-week shopping trip. My goal of sticking to a $100 per week grocery budget has been surprisingly doable over these past two months, especially with that extra $100 per month for overflow and special extras. I did not count the time when I went to the health food store and stocked up on bones and teas, and then went back to buy a gluten-free pancake mix.

This past October there were three women I talked to, one of them being my sister, who had either been gluten-free for a while or were in the process of eliminating gluten products from their diet. I don’t talk about it much here at all, but I consider myself pretty well-read regarding food and the rationales for the various diets out there. Because I have a history of an eating disorder, and because my mind is one that can easily take good things and turn them into obsessions, I try not to obsess about diet.

What I’ve noticed, however, is that certain foods make me feel better and other foods have started to make me feel worse. My husband has always been a gracious, non-picky eater. My children thus far have never had food allergy issues, so I could get away with keeping the classic boxes of cereal and macaroni and cheese on hand for those times I just needed something easy for them. In other words, I’ve never really had to make changes for their sake, but I think I’m actually needing to make some changes for my sake.

The wheat products hurt my stomach. After talks with these women inspired me to give it a try, I eliminated processed wheat from my diet for three days and I could definitely tell a difference.  My stomach felt light, calm, clear, and pain-free.  After the three days I ended up eating a piece of cinnamon toast and have been off and on here and there with the wheat again. I want to try this for an entire week and see what happens. This morning I went grocery shopping and other than the vanilla wafers for my six year old, I made sure not to buy any wheat. If the cinnamon toast is in the house, even if I say, “Well this will be fine to get for the kids only”, I will end up eating a piece for breakfast by Tuesday.

My grocery store bill was over $160 today, but that was with me buying a few more pantry products to have on hand for new recipes. I got out my paleo slow-cooker cookbook this morning and used that to write up a loose menu-plan for the week. I’ve never really been a big meat lover in life, but in the fall and winter I do seem to crave the roasts and stews. As my teenage son continues to grow, I’ve been alternating foods like eggs, liver, salmon, and apples for him in the mornings. The other boys aren’t far behind.

I’ve spent about 5 1/2 hours on food/kitchen work today so far, not including the hour or so I just spent writing about it. Here’s what on the menu for supper this week:

Saturday-Curried Chicken Wings
Sunday-fend for yourself
Monday-Caveman drumsticks
Tuesday-Yam, Leek, and Sausage soup
Wednesday-Cauliflower Chicken Curry
Thursday-Armenian Lamb & Apricot Stew
*I couldn’t find lamb so I substituted beef
*I couldn’t think that far ahead





a worthy contribution

The kids are outside, cold and soaked by the snow. We had our first snowfall yesterday early morning, but snow in October seems too early for me. Last year it was sometime in mid-November. We still have green leaves on the trees out there.

The days have been fairly simple here. I almost said straight-forward, but that would’ve been the wrong word. I’ve just felt a slowness settling in, like I’m ready to curl up and sleep for the winter. I’m a human, however, and humans don’t hibernate.

I’m having thoughts again about leaving this blog behind. It used to be that my thoughts would flow freely here, and now I just feel like I’m in standing in a stagnant pond. I’ve actually considered starting another blog, one where I could foster more community among women. I’m having a hard time with the day-to-day aloneness, almost like I have no one else’s energy to draw from, or to put in in a less-healthy sounding way, feed on.


My son is doing great in school. I almost, almost, envy his chance to be plugged right into routine, stimulation, community, and challenge. I don’t really think about him much during the day, and he’s starting to come home asking to do things like ride the fan-bus  to watch the volleyball team play in the regional championship. He’s got his driver’s permit in his wallet, and though he’s not as eager to hop into the driver’s seat, he drove me down the country road home last week. His first quarter grades were straight A+’s.

It’s funny how every child is so different. You can’t replicate children, and there’s no way to give the others everything you gave the one. My oldest child will have a different life than my second child, who will have a different life from the third child, and so on.  My youngest two boys are slowly learning to read at ages 6 and 8, but they also get dressed, make their beds, and clean their room most mornings without me even telling them.


Not too long ago I was texting with two other stay-at-home moms, each who are pregnant with their ninth or tenth child (not including infant losses and miscarriages). The one who has homeschooled her children from day one joked about how her life has been mainly one of teaching kids to use the bathroom and to read. She was joking about that being her worthy contribution to the world and I affirmed that, indeed, it truly was.


I sometimes wonder, “Lord, am I wasting something?” Am I supposed to being doing something more than I’m doing? And I don’t mean in terms of wondering whether or not being a wife and mother is “good enough”. It is. It 100% absolutely is. But if I’d spent more time, would the kids be reading more by now? Should I be a better cook and meal-planner by now? After all these years, should my house be less cluttered and more organized by now? Must I master these things before I can justify doing anything else?