Chesed

Field Trips

I don’t know if they’re even called field trips when you’re homeschooling or if they’re called family outings or excursions.  Whatever the name, this year I was determined to make a few more things happen during our school year.  I was determined all the other years, too, but the daunting drives always outweighed my determination.

Last year we did a few things, most notably the Air and Space Museum in Chantilly and the Frontier Culture Museum (twice!).  The sheep shearing day in March is awesome if you are thinking of going!frontier culture museum (4 of 15)

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I was hoping to do something once a month and had a running wish list, but no concrete plan.  The other day when I found my list again, I realized we’d actually done pretty well!

In August we spent the afternoon at a  swimming pool with friends all excited about seeing the eclipse!  It was the perfect spot because all the concrete made the dancing crescents easy to see!

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But our favorite spot to watch them was the black cover on top of the hot tub!

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We visited Swananoa in September.  I remember rambling across the grounds as a teenager ….. back when there weren’t “No Trespassing” signs with dire consequences listed posted everywhere!  The details of the place beg for fifty-five exclamation marks after every sentence.  The marble!!!  The stained glass window!!! The VIEW!!!  We thought we were done and then we wandered back through what used to be the gardens and found the old tower.  I stood there imagining dinner parties back in the day.  Just incredible!  We spoke briefly with the current owner who actually spent some time living there before deciding she preferred being warm in the winter. 😉  It really would be a cold, cold house to live in; but oh, how I wish someone would restore and modernize it so it could be used today.  It’s just so gorgeous!

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October found us at one of my favorite spots!  Carters Mountain Orchard.  This place holds priceless memories for me because it was our first outing with Liam years ago after I quarantined him for six weeks trying to get his little immune system strong enough to handle life.  We don’t do a lot of whole family outings and to do one at the end of such a long stint of staying home from everything was a huge celebration and milestone!  I’d been back with the boys one other time, but it was years ago.  At the last minute, David decided to quit work two hours early and go with us.  It was just as much fun as I’d remembered! Apples taste exponentially better when you pick them off the tree seconds before eating them!  The apple cider slushies are as phenomenal as I remembered and the apple cider donuts?  Well, who wouldn’t love those?  We stayed to watch the sun head toward the horizon as hot air balloons and airplanes floated across the sky.  The next day the boys were still talking about it.

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“You know what was the best part of yesterday? When Dad said we couldn’t and we DID!” (Referring to getting the apples they wanted from the tops of the trees.  You aren’t allowed to climb the trees, but boys are pretty good at improvising.) 😉

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“Oh, that was so awesome!”

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I’ve wanted to go to Luray Caverns ever since we’re back in Virginia, but the admission price is a bit daunting.  The week of Thanksgiving my parents offered to pay for all of us to tour the caverns.  Wow, wow, wow!!!!  Their website does nothing to prepare you for the sheer magnitude of the place!  I did a quick review online on trip advisor in the morning before we headed out and got an idea when someone mentioned walking almost a mile.  Even then I was blown away! It’s unbelievable the vastness of the rooms and the intricacies and variety of formations.

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{Don’t they look like bath towels?!}

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December was filled with Christmas activities and a fun little outing to a gingerbread house competition with my friend, Rachel.

And now, I still have more places on my wish list than months left in the school year so we’ll see what happens!

Whether you are a homeschooling mama or not, I’m always up for great recommendations of places to visit!  Where do you like to go?


Pride goes before a soggy middle

Something about fall makes me want to pull out allllllllllll the recipes for baked things.  Starting in early September I get hit by the apple and pear craze.  November means all things pumpkin and we’re about to hit December which means CRANBERRIES.

I think it goes without saying by now that the kitchen is not exactly my forte.  Well, even I was surprised when my pumpkin cheesecake developed cracks the size of the Grand Canyon.  For real.  I was planning to take it to carry in at church the next day.  I didn’t feel like making more food so the next morning I whipped up some heavy whipping cream, added a little cream cheese to stabilize it, and just before lunch I coated that baby so well you couldn’t see a thing …. until people started cutting it.

I wasn’t about to try again for a long time.  Then my friend who is the queen of cheesecakes told me to bake it low and slow.  So I did.  I followed directions to a t.  Beating when  I was supposed to beat and barely folding in the eggs at the end.  I slid that baby into the oven with more care than I handled my newborns and gently eased the door shut.  225.  Two hours.  Turn off the oven.  Don’t crack the oven until an hour later.

When I obediently opened the door as the timer beeped, I’m pretty sure my pride added an inch to my head.  You just got your doctorate?  I baked a perfect cheesecake!

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I garnished it with sheer joy, took pictures of it, and happily took it along to David’s parents’ house that night for dinner.

You can see just how  well that worked out. {Insert all the rolls eyes emoticons} 😀

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Another friend said the low and slow never works for her.  Bake at 400 works for her sister.  Water bath works for her.  Low and slow works for another sister.  So what’s YOUR secret????  I feel like these cheesecakes are holding out on me!


Thanksgiving Reality Check

I decided to kick off our Thanksgiving week with a little dress up and stories. In my dreams we invited the cousins to join us. I had visions of fire building in the garden and a supper with similar foods to what they might have eaten. David reined me in with a gentle reality check. “Did you think about how hard you’ve been running? You’re going to trash yourself and not enjoy the week with your family.” He was right. But next year……

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Between the piano tuner deciding to come today and staying for three hours and Bella’s complete disbelief that we would dare to look at a book besides “Colors” it didn’t exactly even look like the low key plan. But does it ever? And does it even matter?

Liam and Zara dressed up. We read stories. We imagined what it must have been like to be a Pilgrim. Pocahontas and I dashed to Walmart in our nicely heated Sienna to catch fish and I felt very grateful to be living in 2017.

Soft though. My goodness I feel soft. I also feel like I’m raising soft kids. The kids might rue this day because it will be a long while before I tolerate any words of complaint about work. I keep watching some of the current trends in parenting and feeling curious. Some of it makes sense. Some of it makes me wonder if we will see a generation of kids growing up who are surprised to discover that some things look like a lot of hard work and in order to be successful you have to dig in and work hard…even when it’s not fun or doesn’t come naturally. But I digress.

Back to Thanksgiving. One of my favorite thoughts about Thanksgiving was the way two completely different people groups came together, shared what they had, and celebrated together. I don’t think I have to explain to anyone in America why that concept feels so powerful and healing. I always thought the Pilgrims invited the Indians to the feast. This was supposed to be the springboard for talking about gratitude and about laying down your differences and celebrating alongside others. Instead one of the books we read suggests that the Indians heard the commotion from the hunting, cane to see what was going on, and then returned with food and people. I feel a smidge disappointed with the Pilgrims. Why didn’t they invite them instead of waiting on them to invite themselves????? Does anyone know if this is true?

Either way, it’s been a great reality check. My gratitude list is a lot longer than it would have been last week. And even if we all act a little entitled sometimes, I’m so grateful I don’t have to send boys to work in the field all day long at age seven!


How did that happen

Thanks to an unexpected stay at home day, the urge to sit down and write a blog post started tickling a little harder.  It’s always there, jiggling slightly, but rapidly squelched by time demands and a little person in arms.  Not having two hands free to type will kill an urge in a hurry.  I sat down and realized I haven’t written specifically since May.  May?  That was almost a lifetime ago!

In the meantime, someone adorable turned one!

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Technically she’s not a baby anymore, but my babies always feel like a baby until at least eighteen months.  Bella is tiny for her age and definitely still seems like a baby.

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She’s now sixteen months old and just delicious! As babies do, she’s gone through some pretty tough months with a lot of crying and little sleep and then morphs into pure sunshine again.  We must be on a break from the most intense parts of teething currently if her happiness level is any clue.

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She’s pretty quiet.  Whoever said boys are quieter than girls certainly did not birth an Adam and then a Zara or Bella.  He was such a talker I assumed girls talk twice as much as he did!  Bella is starting to say a few words but she rarely jabbers.  She’s a doer, not a talker.  I have never seen a child so capable in my entire life.  She watches everything and then just takes over.

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If she’s playing in the living room and I start making tea in the kitchen she quietly walks to the dining room, gets her little step stool, and pushes it to the sink to take over the stirring.  The other night we were all in the living room.  It was darkish in the rest of the house.  Suddenly she got this, “I’m going somewhere” look on her face, walks out of the room and disappears.  I had a hunch she was after something and sure enough, she was over halfway up the steps when I went after her.  I will be SO RELIEVED when she comes down steps as well as she goes up them!  That same stepstool helps her get onto chairs so she can reach the pens and highlighters, onto the couch where she looks like she will flip over backward, and onto the piano bench so she can play piano.  Needless to say, we have someone on Bella patrol almost every waking minute.

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She loves nothing more than helping with kitchen work.  She hands eggs to me and I watch her little fingers squeeze against the egg just like mine do, her eyes expecting it to open up.  Thank goodness she hasn’t quite mastered the cracking against the counter part.

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But my favorite part about her is the way she learned to say yes this month.  She’s been shaking her head no for a while and used to just hold still and sometimes grunt if she wanted to say yes.  Last week she started nodding yes, but it takes a full body effort … her little face and tummy and legs all trying to get it in motion to get her head to come forward!  It’s sooooooooooo cute.

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{the picture Mom works SOOOOOOOOOOOO hard to get!}

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{What usually happens with girls with opinions.}

Little lump of sugar!

PS to self: Welcome to the new world of blogging.  Write on one day in fragments.  Add pictures the next.  Deal with it and just make it happen.  Your eighty year old self will rock back and forth and thank you.


A Plexus Update

It’s been awhile since I talked about my favorite supplements here and sometimes people ask what we’ve seen long term.

Let me preface this by saying if you haven’t heard about Plexus or the beginning of our story I’d be happy to share with you.  And if you’ve been following and wondering if it’s worth it, here’s the next chapter.

I think one of the most confusing things when making the switch to plant based products is that people expect a quick fix.  While some people see quick results, many people have much slower progression because healing takes time (symptom masking is much faster).

So many things have happened for us it’s hard for me to know where to start.  I’m also a little stuck because compliance issues make it harder to talk about things.  I’m going to try to talk about this without actually naming medical conditions. 😉 Because it’s a plant based, natural product, we can’t make any claims even though I’m just telling you what happened to us! If you want to know more specifically, please feel free to message me and we can set up a little email correspondence or a phone chat.

I have success stories for almost every person in my family and they all look a little different.

For David: much less pain in his knee and other places! His feet are improving, too with far fewer scaly patches.  But one of the most surprising differences was one I discovered when he stopped one of the products temporarily.  He’s never been officially diagnosed, but has classic symptoms of a common sleep disorder.  You know, the one where they temporarily stop breathing while sleeping.  No wonder he was always so tired during the day! He resumed the product and I haven’t heard it happen since.

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My energy levels are so much better.  Bella was by far my best pregnancy! So much less nausea and no backache ever (I could hardly walk in the morning with Zara) and I slept all night long until almost 34 weeks when I started waking with contractions and bathroom breaks! It was unbelievable! I finally understood why some women love being pregnant! It felt like I could actually enjoy feeling her inside me and the miracle of growing a baby because I wasn’t so incredibly miserable.  That was such a gift! Plus, for the first time ever I could finally take vitamins while pregnant without getting sick on them! Plexus X Factor contains New Zealand Black Currant which helps you absorb iron.  None of that nasty, make you burp and feel nauseous synthetic iron! My iron levels were great my entire pregnancy! The fact that we had her at all felt like a miracle, too.  I dubbed her my Plexus baby while I was pregnant.  I’ve also been so, so grateful that I was already on the products when I got sick with that most dreaded tick borne illness.  Every so often I still get this weird tingling in my fingers and a certain achey-ness that warns me that I need to stay on top of things and support my body; but for the most part, I’ve had a super quick recovery! But probably my favorite part is that I’m more emotionally stable.  Or the fact that I don’t get so down in the dumps during the winter.  Or the fact that my body actually wakes up in the  morning.  Or the fact that I fall asleep pretty much as soon as my head hits my pillow instead of tossing and turning until 2 in the morning and that I sleep deeply all night.  Well, maybe I just have a lot of favorites. :)

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Adam spent the last eight years of his life dreading spring because of all the pollen and the symptoms that come with it.  He used to spend roughly three weeks on claritin.  Last spring I added a few products for him in March.  Instead of three weeks, he used claritin for five days.  This year, he popped one and that was because he started suspecting he was starting.  In actuality, he caught Bella’s cold and wouldn’t have needed it. :) He’s also had so much less trouble with spelling in school this year.  I’m not sure if that’s correlation or causation but I’m happy either way!

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Liam is probably my favorite story.  If you’re the long time friend, you know how he nearly starved in front of my eyes because he wasn’t tolerating so many foods! He was constantly sick with bronchiolitis and ear infections.  I actually credit that for starting us on our journey toward the crunchy side and more holistic health care!  We started learning so much about gut health back then.  The night and day difference in him as we removed all the offending foods and started pumping him full of nourishing foods and supplements was astonishing! He started gaining weight, didn’t get sick for a year at least, had a huge vocabulary explosion, the itchy breakouts on his skin cleared up, and his attention span lengthened tremendously.  I remember not being able to get through a simple board book with him (he was fifteen months old) and a few weeks later reading nine books in one setting!  It was incredible! Things were going well, but we desperately wished to reintroduce a few things to him.  It seemed we could keep him well, but we could never get his gut healthy enough to let him eat the offending foods without relapse.  Enter Plexus.  A few months later I stopped saying, “you better not eat that,” and we’ve never looked back.  We still don’t eat tons of gluten or guzzle milk at our house just because I know it’s not a super healthy option.  But we’re a far cry from avoiding them and on days like today when the boys consume how many chocolate chip cookies I wonder if we even fall into the gluten conscious category! The only thing I didn’t dare reintroduce was peanut.  You don’t carry an epi pen for eight years and then suddenly just decide you might be well.  Today we saw the doctor to get his peanut levels checked.  It’s the first time we’ve tested in five years.  He’s so anxious about the results because he so badly wants to be free!

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Zara has had the fewest products because of her age, but she’s also a huge sign of how much gut health factors into our immune system!  She developed hives the first time she ate eggs as a baby.  I kept faithfully giving her a probiotic and several months later she outgrew it.  It was so fascinating to me to see how much more quickly we saw progress when we saw the signs right away instead of lolligagging around for months hoping what we were suspicious of wasn’t true.

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It’s not just food intolerances that get better when you heal your gut! It’s so many things! That’s why when I heard about Plexus two years ago it just made sense.  It made sense with all the things I’d be hearing and learning with Liam’s story.  It made sense with the research I was seeing on blood sugar.  And it really made sense in relation to the gut biome and how it’s connected to our immune system.  I am constantly hearing about yet another link to the gut microbiome and illness!  And!  We just heard on Saturday that Plexus has added a prebiotic to one of the their products.  I am so over the moon excited about that! Prebiotics feed probiotics.  They’ve done clinical studies and seen absolutely fascinating results! The new formula activates lactobacillus by over 300x, bifiobacterium by 290x, akkermansia by 250x, and butyrate by 58% (many people with autoimmune issues are taking butyrate)!

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I was going to keep that short, honest! But I get pretty excited when talking about health.  That science geek side of me that loved nursing school so much still likes to read and talk about weird symptoms! :)  So whether you are just wishing to be the healthiest version of yourself or whether you are struggling with health issues, I’d love to talk! If you have been thinking about trying Plexus …. In honor of the way God has blessed us, I’m giving away samples to the first three people to message me saying they would like to try it.*

*(Only if not working with another ambassador please!)


My Baby Bella

She is ten months old and seriously getting fourth child treatment of not nearly enough pictures and documentation.  Adam was poring over photo books from when he was little the other day and said wistfully, “I wish you would scrapbook again.”  Me, too, buddy, me too.”  I’ve always done it the hands on way, but I’m starting to think that I should turn a blind eye to the closet full of supplies and start over with a  computer program because then I could do a page or two without all the mess.  Any suggestions from your experience?  Perks to buying a program versus doing something online?  I’d love to hear what you like.  Ease of use is a perk, but quality will way outweigh that so talk to me about printing, also.

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So while my camera moments have been elusive, the darlingness has not.  She is just a ball of squishy sweetness with a  bunch of hair on top. :)  She’d be rich if she got a dollar every time someone says, “that HAIR,” when they see her!  She hasn’t lost her baby hair and they just keep growing and growing.  I trimmed them twice to keep them out of her eyes when she was little and finally decided to let them go.  Now they’re once again down to the tip of her nose, but she reFUSes to keep any kind of clip in them for more than two minutes so she’s constantly having to tilt her head way back just so she can see!  It’s hysterical!  The worst of it is, she’s decided she likes to suck on them.  She reaches back, grabs for locks, and pulls them forward to her mouth.  She crawls around sucking on hair whenever she needs comfort.  In fact, she loves hair so much that if she finds one on the floor you can be sure she’ll pick it up and try to eat it.  Cue all the eww face emoticons!

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She was a relatively laid back baby until around eight months old.  One day she woke up and decided she wanted to be part of the world and she had opinions.  Strong ones.  Suddenly her movements were quick and decisive.  Anything that crossed her got close to her line made her scream and throw herself backward instantly! But she’s also the baby who throws her head back, squints her eyes closed and does little baby snorts with the goofiest grin ever! When she sees something she wants while someone is holding her, her legs kick back and forth and back and forth and back and forth as though she’s sure she can get there if she just moves them fast enough.  She’s crawling all over the house on her fingers (because she’s girly I guess and girls don’t put their palms flat on the floor) and practicing getting up on her hands and feet.  She giggles and giggles when you help her practice standing.

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She’s the first of our babies to think food is something to be scorned.  95% of the time she will push away the spoon and grimace and shake if you dare try to put food into her mouth.  The other three loved sweet potatoes. Bella hates them.  I finally threatened to put candles into breastmilk when she gets to her first birthday because who ever heard of cake being a first food?  She must have heard me because that night she happily ate 1/4 can of baby food pears.  Two days later she shivered and shuddered as soon as they made it to her lips.  So no food.  Except sometimes guacamole.  But paper? Like a goat!  Any scraps of paper on the floor are made to be eaten!  I even found a small piece in her diaper one day.  How can you gag and splutter over food and act like you have all kinds of sensory issues, but eat paper and attempt to eat hair?

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She loves passionately …. all her siblings, but especially Liam, being outside, bath time, chewing on her toes, being carried, peek a boo, and toy trucks.  We are so in love with her it’s almost ridiculous. Babies bring so much happiness to the world!

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WFMW: Breakfast of Champions

It’s the “breakfast of champions” at our house and hands down the boys’ current favorite.

We learned to make this during our month on Whole 30.  It’s one of the few things that has stayed a regular ever since and I love making it because I love to eat it and because I love hearing them cheer when they find out what we’re having!

Just a warning before you keep reading, it sounds gross.  So you can either choose to walk away now safely or read on at your own risk.

When I first read the recipe I was like, “Do what???? Let easy over egg yolk run onto my spinach? Not on my watch.”  But then I tried it because you can’t know until you do.  And it is so very, very good.  And easy.  I’m always looking for quick and easy in the kitchen. 😉

Layer 1: Fresh baby spinach

Layer 2: Fried sausage patty (or two if you’re trying to keep a boy full until lunchtime)

Layer 3: Easy over egg (or two if you’re trying to keep a boy full until lunchtime … does anyone sense a theme here?)

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If you have to close your eyes the first time you eat it, just close them.  I suspect you’ll open them right back up in happy surprise when that first bite hits your tastebuds.


The Power of “Me, too.”

I sat in surprise yesterday as y’alls comments kept trickling in, both here and on Facebook.  This morning when a few new notifications showed up, I sat and reread some of them and I felt tears forming in my eyes.

Tears always blur your vision a bit, but today, they also made me stop for a few seconds.  In my mind, I could see so many women like shadowy figures bending, walking, picking up babies, making food, kissing boo boos, folding laundry.  Tired sometimes, often wondering how they can reach around, but unspeakably strong in love, commitment, and tenaciousness.  Do you have any idea how beautiful that is?

But maybe what hit me more was the level of honesty and vulnerability that was surfacing.

It’s interesting what shifts inside of us when we have the courage to dig hard enough to be honest with ourselves.  To look and pray and seek and sometimes get help until we find the beliefs that are holding us back from who God really designed us to be.  I could write for a long time about that, but maybe another time.

There’s a different and equally powerful shift that happens when we are vulnerable enough to be honest with each other.

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Honesty creates a feeling of community.  It’s really interesting to me how quickly people know this.  {Adam needed to write an essay on friendship this year and one of the things he talked about most in that essay was the need for honesty.}  But it’s even more interesting how quickly we hide.  I think it was Brene Brown who said that vulnerability is the single most important factor in meaningful relationship; and shame is the thing that most holds us back from being vulnerable.  If you have a minute, you should take a little time to think about that.  And if you don’t have a minute, you should do it anyway. 😉  That phrase rocked my whole life a few weeks ago during our revival meetings when I realized that shame was holding me back from a full relationship with Jesus.

There is so much community that happens when you see people raising their hand and whispering, “Me, too.”

The other thing that happens is the way it leaves us feeling empowered.  Maybe that’s just one and the same and the feeling of community is empowering, but they feel like separate entities to me.  You would think that voicing your own struggle is only going to be discouraging to the next person.  Somehow, it has the opposite effect.  Even though we’re not in the same house and sometimes not even in the same community, knowing you are over there fighting your battle well gives me courage to fight mine.  I feel stronger because I know this isn’t for the faint of heart, but over there and over there and over there, you are doing the same thing, too.

Today I just want to say thank you.  Thank you for being vulnerable.  Thank you for listening to my story and sharing pieces of yours. Thank you for being women who not only are women of courage in your own family; but also women who are strong enough to be vulnerable and build community.

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Doing “Nothing”

The other day as I was reading Ephesians I got hung up on the words “walk in love ….. a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.”

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Is this a way that we can give to Jesus the same way Mary did when she poured out her perfume over Jesus’ feet?  Her gift was lavish, without shame, humble. Is our living sacrifice similar?

It’s easy to think we aren’t sacrificing anything, really.  Right now in Sunday School we’re listening to documentaries of missionaries and christians in communist countries.  Amazing, amazing stories of sacrifice and God’s grace.  We read stories of people who were burned at the stake or drowned because they chose to follow Jesus and we feel as though what we are doing is nothing.

And then we wonder why doing “nothing” is so hard.

To die for Christ is a sacrifice that makes you a hero of the faith.

To live for Christ is an ongoing, minute by minute sacrifice that makes you a christian.

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Doing “nothing” is so hard for me.

About two weeks ago I had one of those feels like a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad kind of days.  Things had been building up for a few days and by Friday I was just barely holding on.

Bella has had stranger anxiety for three months, but a few weeks ago she developed a serious case of separation anxiety and I couldn’t even get out of her sight.  If I did manage to get out of the room unnoticed and she heard my voice, she erupted into loud wails because she realized I’m not within touching distance.

It was one of those days.  The kind where babies poop through their clothes and people spill all the things.  When I finally got Zara dressed around 10:30 I spent a little extra time with her hair and chose a cute little dress because bad days call for investing happiness.  She wanted to try going potty insisting she could do it by herself.  Trying to be patient (is it actually patience if you have to try?) 😉 I let her and the back of her skirt promptly dropped into the toilet.

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I love, love, love the way I get to watch my children grow, learn, and play all day long.  One of the biggest benefits to homeschooling is that you get to be with your children all the time.

One of the hardest things about homeschooling is that you are with your children all.the.time.  Yes, I just said the same thing two ways.  It feels as though my kids need me all the time.  At least one of them.  Sometimes three of them at once.  That particular day I was done.  Just completely done.  I picked up Bella, went upstairs and sat in my unmade bed and screamed at God (in a whisper of course so the kids couldn’t hear me). Help me! Please, you have to help me! I just want to run away.  I can’t do this stalling my tires in the mud thing anymore.”

I was barely two sentences in before Liam appeared in the doorway with a Math question.  How?  Just how.

I sent David a text and told him if I wasn’t home that evening I’d run away.  He wrote back and said, “That’s fine.  Just let me know where you’re going so I can join you.” :)

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In the end, God didn’t endow my day with supernatural power.  Instead He quieted my heart with truth.  I started realizing how much I still fall into the trap of finding my identity in what I do. When my days turn into something akin to quagmire, I feel like I’m not enough.  Not enough wife.  Not enough mom.  Not enough person.

But it isn’t so much what we accomplish as moms that glorifies God.  It’s the fact that we are there.  Face it.  Most of what we do gets undone 2.5 seconds later.  I comb Zara’s hair. She rolls around on the floor and you’d never know I touched it.  You do dishes and someone is hungry.  You can’t tell if I swept the floor last night or five days ago because it perpetually has food and dirt on it.

We give up sleep, showers, bodies that work the way they did pre-baby, personal space, and the ability to eat a plate of food without interruption.  It doesn’t get much more invasive than that.

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Motherhood is hard, not because it requires so much skill, but because it requires laying down so much of your own personhood.  The very thing that makes it hard is the same thing that makes it a glorious, living, sweet smelling sacrifice to God.  It honors Him when we get up again, sweep the floor again, cook the seven millionth egg (seeeeeeeeeeriously, how can kids eat so much food?!), explain that algebra equation again, and scarf down food in 37 seconds so we can hold a crying baby.  It isn’t about the clean floor but about our attempt to create a haven for people.  It’s not about the food, but about the act of feeding hungry bellies consistently.  It’s not about potty training (or continuing to miss the mark), but about encouraging and coming alongside and believing in.  It’s not about getting school done early for the day (or goodness knows on days like that particular Friday even getting it done before dinner), but about learning.  And sometimes the learning has as much to do with character and life lessons for moms and kids that stall the academic exercises.  It’s not about the accomplished task, but the doing it that matters to God.

Love and cheers to all you mamas who are getting ready to head into another week that, in all likelihood, includes sticky floors, stained laundry hiding in the dryer, late dinners, and kids with love tanks that need perpetual filling. At the end of each day, and maybe a hundred or so times throughout it, I hope God sends you little reminders that you are enough.


We’re Home!

  1. It’s such an odd thing to say when really, we’ve been home for four months.  But it feels as though it should be officially announced here. I think partially I just want to remember it a little bit.

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The details are all getting a bit hazy for me except the day we moved.  I look back and remember almost nothing except a blur of crying baby and rocking, rocking, rocking in between walking, walking, walking from July on.  I have no idea how things got packed.  I know that my mom came up a day or two about a month before we moved.  I know that Amanda came and held Bella for me a lot.  I know that three sweet friends from Hagerstown came the Tuesday before we moved and packed up my entire kitchen while I finished packing our closets.  I know that we were planning to move on Thursday, October 20.  I remember sorting and purging.  I distinctly remember the funny feeling of knowing exactly where most things would go and so I would fill a box, sometimes from different rooms, and label which room it should go to.  But I hardly remember actually filling boxes.  That’s an odd thing considering there were about two hundred boxes.  And mostly I know that we were completely covered in prayer.

I’d way rather remember holding Bella anyway, so thank goodness that’s not the brain cells that fudged.

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Wednesday morning David left a few minutes before 5 to take an open trailer with lawn and garden supplies and outdoor items to Virginia.  He dropped it off, drove back to Harrisonburg, picked up a box trailer and headed back to Maryland.  I’d asked Grandma Donna to come help me that day because frankly, I just needed a mom.  She was the perfect person!  She helped me scrub a few last minutes places, read stories to Zara, rocked Bella, and ran to the bulk food store with the kids in tow to pick up a sub order for our lunch.  It was a calm morning and I was feeling oddly as though I was getting done early.  I called David and said, “hey, what do you think? If we get done early would you want to just drive down tonight?”  We talked about it for a bit and figured it we somehow miraculously got loaded by six we’d do it.  But not later than that because of his early morning and life with babies is kind of exhausting without losing half a night of sleep because of driving.

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He got home around 3 and the loading began.  It was unbelievably hot for the end of October! The guys were sweating up a storm.  Miss Sheryl showed up with an igloo of iced tea.  We were wearing flip flops or running barefoot.  There were people everywhere.  Loading boxes.  Holding babies.  Helping me wash off walls as the rooms got emptied….

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About seven or eight David said, “I’m driving down tonight.” The trailer was so loaded he didn’t want to deal with daytime traffic, especially on the 81.  Let me tell you, stuff kicked in high gear.  We weren’t even completely loaded.  I hadn’t packed up the frig stuff because we supposedly weren’t leaving until morning.  My carefully packed for overnight suitcases got stuffed into the trailer, people started helping me clean out my neglected frig, and other people collected stuff from the shower because suddenly hitting the road took preeminence over cleaning up our stinky bodies.

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People helped bathe the girls and I sent all the kombucha and coke from the frig to our vehicles.  Nice combination, don’t you think?

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At nine, the people who stuck with us until the very end, circled up in the yard and prayed for our safety.  I felt a little shaky inside.  I was exhausted and my adrenalin rush wasn’t present but not quite as big as David’s.  His was pretty contagious though! I don’t mind driving, but I’m a terrible night driver because I get so sleepy.  I was a little worried about how the girls would travel, especially Bella, and I was definitely worried about the loaded trailer.  And then, we were off.  Adam opted to travel with me and cranked up Adventures in Odyssey which was a great sleep deterrent.

We hit heavy traffic that slowed but didn’t stop us on the 81 and then passed through torrential rain for about ten minutes on the 66.  And after that, it was smooth sailing.

home

I can’t even describe what it felt like to pull into our driveway a little before one or to wake up the next morning knowing we didn’t have to tackle the drive.  It’s been the most amazing thing, this coming home.  I’ve never moved back into a house before and I know it helped so much with us feeling at home right away.  The house and yard took a beating because of us not being here to maintain it for so long.  It was terribly disappointing to leave a house that looked like new and come home to a house that needed so, so much care and repair, but it was home.  I had the strangest feeling the next day as they unloaded furniture and set it up in the living room …. like, did those four and a half years really happen or didn’t they?!

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We have loved being back.  And apparently, Bella loved Virginia, too.  For whatever reason, less stress for Mommy??? possible mold in the house in Maryland??? she drew a line in the sand the day we moved.  Every day for a week she became less and less fussy.  By Monday she was lying down taking naps and sleeping 10-11 hours at night.  When she was awake, she played happily.  She literally turned into a dream baby!

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Moving back hasn’t been without it’s adjustments.   That’s always and always a part of change.  But over and again we’ve felt confirmation that this is what God wanted for us.  I feel so grateful for the opportunity to once again be surrounded by so many things that make me feel happy.  Friends.  Family.  Church.  Beauty.  Connection.  Resources.  And so much more.  I am not soaking in the blessings, but not without pause.  How can I enjoy fully, yet not selfishly?  I want to embrace this beautiful gift God has given while still living with intention, generosity, and especially with this level of gratitude.  Because the truth is, this is a gift from Him! Not something I deserve or for more to demand.  I never dreamed I’d feel guilty for having such a nice life.

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“You desire truth in my heart, and in its secret places you will give me wisdom. Make me to hear joy and gladness! Create in me a clean heart and a steady spirit. Restore the joy of salvation and hold me with your generous spirit.” Psalm 51 paraphrase mine.