...Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Ruth 1:16 This is the journey of our lives...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

School on break...and teenager angst

 Oh the leaves! Oh the trees! Finding the fun outdoors has been our favorite this year.
 Having 4 seasons, turns out, is the best ever!
 Since our big move we have been getting back to a simpler homeschool style. I've always leaned towards, note booking, lap books and nature journals. However, this year I was panicked when I started planning for my 8/9th grader. Preparing for High School transcripts changes the easy going style I've always embraced. Thankfully, my oldest has an easy time of learning and has handled tests, deadlines and heavier workloads with ease. Not excitement, but at least ease. So although he is carrying a heavier day of online co-ops and high school credits, I'm still able to integrate the things we love into his day. Like nature journaling, art and out loud reading.
 We are currently on break and although my oldest finds joy in sleeping in and getting more time on the computer and late night TV (teens), my younger kiddos are still finding just as much fun outdoors.  And although I question myself on a daily basis and hope I'm doing enough, I am staying the course and encouraging a more natural learning environment for them. A slower pace...
And what happened on break, when we aren't doing school? The kids found something amazing outdoors and ran to get their journals. They spent the day exploring the recently drained irrigation ditch that had been underwater the entire summer . In the mud, they found animal prints and crawfish, seashells and shiny rocks. pictures were drawn, treasures were found and a day was spent learning.
I'm still trying to figure out how to get my teenager motivated...Minecraft is school right?

Monday, December 12, 2016

take time to look back, the future looks brighter

It's cold and dark this morning. 38 degrees, which is warmer than it has been, but dark so it feels like its 5am, when really it's already 7:30. Later mornings are less productive for me but I enjoy the quiet before the chaos so much that I sneak around the house to not let anyone wake up for as long as they'll let me. Quietly drinking coffee by my little space heater that looks like a fireplace, snuggled under a warm blanket, the dog sleeping at my feet. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and I'd wake up early to find my mom or dad doing the same. It was my favorite time to snuggle up and lay quietly while they finished their coffee and reading time. I find that these days, there are so many memories of my childhood that pop up, I wonder if it's because I am recreating all those memories for my children and I'm now the same age my mom was, so my recollection of this part of my childhood is so clear. Raising 2 more children than my parents and all very close in age, makes my job very different than my mothers. I have 2 brothers and we're all 6 years apart, her time with us was more spread out and she was able to really dive into the individual needs of each of us. I hope in doing life so differently I'm also able to dive into each one of my children the way she did. I already know that in many ways, I'm spread much thinner. But I do my best and hopefully, like me at 38 (almost 39), they will be looking back on how hard I tried and appreciate me even in my failures. Just this morning after a terrible night's sleep, I woke up to start my day ready for the challenges I might face. This world is spinning quickly and my children are quickly growing into taller people with opinions and dreams of their own. I'm having these moments where I se myself with my heels dug in, pulling at their shirt tails. And then other moments when I'm so thankful I can just tell them to go take a shower and go to bed and I can sit on the couch an watch them follow through with the directions I've given them and not have to get up once to help them. There's a sense of satisfaction in the ability to sit back and watch the beauty of what we've taught come to fruition in our children. Even in the small ways it feels like accomplishment...and as a stay at home mom, accomplishment is as fleeting as thinking you've ever got caught up on the laundry.

I'm reading a book called Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman and I've joined this group called Wild and Free. They are both designed around a simpler living, a retrograded lifestyle and slightly antiquated in comparison to the fast moving pace of society. This entire year and half since losing my dad has prompted this slower pace. I've always been drawn to a pioneer adventurer lifestyle, creating life where you can live off the land and find adventure in the wilderness. I was raised this way and still crave the freedom I feel when faced with wide open spaces. City living was always a temporary life for me, I found a place there and loved the elements of social business and simple conveniences, but my heart always new that open patches of dirt and rarely traveled paths were waiting for me. And now, after 6 years of wandering in my own dessert of unknowns I feel like I'm home. In a rural setting I know how to live, I know how to fill my time, I know how to homeschool. I have the resources to do the things I know. I was such a country mouse as a child and my dad was such a homebody, before I was 15 I didn't know how to use a city cross walk. I'd ridden my horse all day and crossed miles of ground, and could probably survive in the Arizona dessert for a couple of days, but don't send to me ride a city bus. I've still never done it. So here I am back to where I feel I belong. It looks different than what I thought, but God's plans always seem to differ from mine. (thankfully) The move has settled me, slowed my manic-grief, paced my busy nature and given me a place to make my own.

Living in transition is a hard place to settle in, since our move from New River 6 years ago, was hard. The place we called home was never our own. We rented in North Carolina, we moved after only 6 months, we lived with my parents, we rented my brother's home for five years. It sounds like a disaster, doesn't it? It could have been, but it wasn't. God found me there too. Kicking and screaming, he found me. He had to take some things first, our comfortable little ranch, our money, our extended family, my husband's anger and frustration and then our religion and the HE gave us Himself. It was the most beautifully painful transition I've ever known. And in it He gave us, our fifth child, a beautiful baby girl, 6 months living on the beaches of North Carolina with some of our best friends, 6 months of sweet time with my parents, time I will always cherish with my dad. A home on the corner of a busy city street where just 5 to 10 minutes away lived every home schooling family I could ever love and want to spend 5 years growing our children with. See, God didn't answer my prayers the way I wanted. He did better. I just kicked and screamed and cried about it a lot. Because I was too small to see the big picture.

In my smallness, I found out God is who he says He is, not who I said He was.

I found out God is who He says He is, not what other people say He is.

I found out God loves me.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

This mountain just makes me happy to wake up in the mornings.

The art of making pies has been passed down from my mamma. We love to do it and frankly, I think we do a pretty good job of it. But my favorite part is not the actual eating it, although that's quite a pay off, it's the art of making it with people I love.
 Seeing these little hands shape the edges of the pie crust,
 Rolling the dough so it's not too thick and not too thin,
 Blending each ingredient so the crust is just right, dry and not wet and gooey,
 And giggling. Mostly, we like the laughter that fills the kitchen...and oh the smells of cinnamon!
Each and every year, we come together and bake and create together.

I wish life could be pie making day, every day. Or pie eating day....hmm maybe both days on a loop.
Either way, I had to document this special tradition that is part of who we are.

And what has created the "foodie" in me.

Apparently I'm what you'd call a foodie. Mostly sweets, but I can also appreciate the meat and potatoes of a meal. My sister in law, who is also a foodie, told me once she loved movies and books about food. I didn't realize this was a thing, but in fact its like the best thing. Ever. Last year about this time, I was desperate for some mindless entertainment, mind numbing distraction from the grief and loss of losing my best friend and my dad. Baking became this thing I did with my hands and reading anything deep or meaningful was totally out of the question. So, I found books that were written about food. Not only cookbooks written by interesting people, but fictional characters who owned bakeries and solved mysteries while enjoying chocolate ganache frosted cupcakes. And as ridiculous as this sounds when I say it out loud, the more I want to re-read the Christmas novels I read last year! Apparently I'm not the only one, there are a million and 1 Christmas bakery books to choose from. But Christmas in Good Hope by Cindy Kirk was one of my favorites!

The light parade down main street tonight.

TV and Movies just for the holidays and Food!

Gilmore Girls
Julie and Julia
When Harry Met Sally (I'll have what she's having) ;)
Fried Green Tomatoes

Friday, December 9, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

The perfect weekend all around. Family friends and food with the backdrop of Fall gently settling over the river...

Hello old Friend, it's good to feel you again.

It's always the holidays that make me want to start blogging again. I start reminiscing about years past and Christmases that I'd like to revisit. No other time in life makes us think of the past like Christmas. I think it's because its probably the only month of the year that I actually do everything almost the same. My decorations and ornaments are brought out, looking old and crumbly from years past, the smell of a fresh cut tree, twinkly lights and smells of cinnamon and pumpkin pies. Feeling full all the time and the music. Christmas music can take me to times and places I've spent the holidays with the first few words of a familiar song. It doesn't matter how many times I've heard the familiar tune, my mind drifts to the very moment I was when I heard it last. I watch all the same movies each and every year and I even eat the same things with mostly the same people. Christmas is like a rewind button playing over and over, a constant state of  dejavu. Not in the weird way you dream something over and over and can't wake up. But in this delightfully predictable way that feels like your home. Something you can count on, like mom's stuffing, and making your kids leap for joy with a new toy. I normally don't like a lot of the same. I change my mind a lot. But a few rules apply, I don't change my mind about, my husband, my children, my family and Christmas. Everything else is game.

This is our first Christmas in our new house. It's colder, grayer, bigger, and better in so many ways. The changes in our families are paramount. Things I always thought I could count on have fallen away, new faces are being introduced and old ones have left. Some days it takes me a minute to even recognize this life and what its become and still becoming. But this month, December 2016, still feels like my old friend has arrived. Daniel and I have welcomed Christmas like the old friend we knew needed to show up. Holding dear the traditions we've carried on and began anew. Amongst the turmoil and craziness of life today, it's a welcome respite. Just looking back on this blog of Christmases past, it brings comfort like a blanket right out of the dryer. Which now means something to me since we've moved to the mountains!