the routine of the every day

 

My regular daily routine is pretty, you know, routine.

Attempt to rise before my children.  (Though that Mosely is a hard one to wake up earlier than.)
Read quietly.  Write a little in a journal.  Check emails and get a touch of work done.
Prep breakfast, wake up the remaining sleeping younger kids who do not yet own an alarm clock.
Eat breakfast together.
Begin school at the table.
Teach/help/direct school until lunch.
Fix and eat lunch.
Wrap up the last set of help-needed school assignments.
Settle in for a few hours of work.  (And by a few hours I mean, some regularly interrupted time to sort of accomplish my tasks.)
Take a little break and find myself surprised that it’s already time to get ready for dinner – what?
Make dinner and eat dinner.
Hang out with kids, play games, do whatever.
Gather in the living room to read, write in our family journal and Nature Notes, pray.
Tuck kids in.  Repeat the process for one last round of – oh, wait, I need to tell you this/what’s for breakfast/where’s that one shirt?/do we have to take that hike tomorrow?/what are we doing this weekend? information exchange.

After I put the kids to bed, I begin work – usually writing.

But some nights I just don’t FEEL like it.  I’d rather watch the latest This Is Us or paint that green set of cubbies I’ve been meaning to paint since last spring.  (The yellow paint has been sitting by the door of the library since then.  Has not moved in all those months.)  I’d rather read The Help for the second time or draw out house plans for homes I’ll never live in.

I’d rather go to bed and lie there, not sleeping, because I’m not actually sleepy but I’m not entirely sure what I am.

That’s a genuine picture of the majority of my days.  Filled and sprinkled, of course, with the unexpected trip the doctor or the scheduled eye appointment/dentist appointment/counseling session.  The field trip or visit from friends or soccer practice or meeting or outing with buddies or you name it.

Sometimes in between all that routine something funny or silly or amazing or sad happens.  Sometimes all of those things happen in the duration of one single day – or in one hour.  I do live with five relatively dramatic human beings.  Well, one overly dramatic human being and four regularly dramatic human beings.  But still.  You get the picture.

That’s my life.  It’s pretty regular, in fact.    Sure, sometimes marshmallows appear in the medicine cabinet and often times the laundry might as well be an additional family member and the cat and dog are for certain extra family members.  But it’s basically a normal life.  Or, you know, normal to us, for the most part.

There’s not an awful lot of wiggle room in this schedule.  Not a lot of space to mix it up.  All the things need to keep happening, all the plates need to keep spinning, all the monkeys need to keep dancing.

That’s it.  A Day in the Life.  

What’s your schedule settling and looking like in your current season?

 

 

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The Last Few Days – in Photos

 

It’s Monday of a holiday week but you already know that.

I tried to fight my urge to stay in bed on these cold mornings and wake up early to greet the day and feel a little more in charge of my life – it’s an illusion I keep trying to maintain in a half-hearted capacity.

I have neither the time nor the mental capacity to write a full post this morning but I do have both the time and the mental capacity to share a few photos from the last week or so of life and that feels like enough for today.

There was a work gathering recently that was fun and sweet – I love being able to partner with local businesses and people and do good work here.

 

There was a “hike” – really a slow and meandering walk – around our local state park with delightful friends.

 

 

We attended a theatrical presentation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing with some of my favorite families.  At one scene when Claudio agreed to marry a girl he had never met who was under a veil, Bergen loudly whispered, “That’s risky.”  Yeah, it is son.  Life lessons.

 

 

We spent another afternoon outside at the gorgeous Jones Gap gathering rocks that we all painted the following day with friends.  (Otto keeps dressing himself in shorts and t-shirts as if he is unaware of the current season.)

 

 

I had an afternoon to spend with Otto and Piper recently and Piper was in charge of taking the photo.

 

 

This weekend we had a spontaneous gathering with friends who are both kind and hilarious and I always walk away from their company refreshed.  They taught us how to play Spicy Uno and it was fantastic.  Also – why do so many of my pictures include children sitting on our table?

 

 

Last week’s group gathering was the rock gym.  How fun is that?

 

 

And there you have it, friends.

I hope your holiday week is off to a wonderful start.

 

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Five Finds Friday (should I buy the boots & a little poetry)

 

When the temperatures drop even slightly, my crew and I become hermits.  We want to sleep late, stay under the covers, hibernate.  It’s just so cozy at home.  Give us all the hot chocolate and thick novels and warm blankets.  It’s hard to get up and go anywhere.

But we do force ourselves out of the house from time to time.

This week we had appointments we couldn’t shift (believe me, we wanted to) and school to do and a theatre performance of Much Ado About Nothing to attend.

 

 

funny

 

Here’s what is NOT funny.  Paul Blart.  Okay, sure.  This movie was out a while ago and it certainly doesn’t even look as if it has any intentions of being considered classic or incredibly meaningful.  But the big kids thought it looked funny so we figured it would be worth a go.

It was not worth a go.

The plot was – wait, what plot?

It was so bad it actually was funny, so maybe there was that.

 

fashionable

 

I know I know – another entry about boots.

I’ve been hoarding my birthday money since July.

I’m thinking these boots might be how my birthday money is destined to be spent.

 

 

I have never heard of this brand – Oliberte.  Has anyone heard of this brand?

It’s not an American company and I like the info they have on their website about why and how and where they make these boots.  It feels a little risky but I think I’m ready to make the leap.

Somebody just say the word – tell me it’s okay – and I’ll click the next button to pay for the boots already waiting in my virtual cart.

 

flavorful

 

I have two loaves of Apple Cinnamon Bread in the freezer now, a little early holiday baking.

 

 

faithful

 

I know his poetry can be sort of weird and that lots of people nether care for nor understand e.e. cummings.

Sometimes I neither understand nor care for certain of his poems myself.

But sometimes I love them.  Even the bits I don’t totally get.

I love this poem and I love our nearby state park of Jones Gap and I love that I feel better about pretty much everything everywhere when I am outside.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

— e.e. cummings

 

 

feels

 

Why do they all have to get so grown up?

 

 

 

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what does repentance look like?

 

I use to think about it a lot.

Repentance.

That one word.  And all of its connotations.

About what it looked like and what it talked like and what it sounded like.

I don’t think about it so much any longer.

For a whole host of reasons.

But the biggest (and the best) reason is this.

I don’t need to think about it.

A friend reminded me of something, spoke it in a way that my heart could understand.

And his words resonated.  They stayed.

I love particulars.  Plans.  Lists.  How To.  A formula and an agenda and a purpose.  Give me all of those.  A blue print.  The rules.

Signs and symptoms.  What to look for and how it tastes.

But this friend, he said – “You don’t need a list of what to look for.  When repentance is genuine, you’ll know it.  It’ll be obvious.”

His words didn’t settle right away.

But now I think they have.

Repentance is not a read these instructions sort of occasion.  It’s not a list of do this, say that.

And you cannot fake it.

Not really.

And it goes both ways.

When I know I need to repent – I’ll know what to do and how to do it.

I’ve seen this played out in big and small ways – like today, with my children, after I responded to them in an unpleasant manner.  I knew what needed to be done.  And I knew how to do it.

Likewise, I believe,

when repentance walks into my life, I’ll recognize its face.

 

 

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she prays for us.

 

She sought us out Sunday morning before the service started.

Hugged us with genuine affection and greeted each one of my children by name.

She was excited – legitimately excited – to see our faces.

She told us Tuesday.  Tuesday was the day she prayed for us each – by name.

Who knew that would matter so much?

And that it would, of course, remind me of my mother.

My mother, who also had a written down list of people for whom she prayed.  My mother, who drove to her job as a nurse at an assisted living facility and prayed down that list as she drove.  Name by name of real people whom she loved.

That’s a treasure, right?

To be named.  To be prayed for.  To be loved.

 

 

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Wonder: A Book Review

 

“Thank you God for good books to read,” London prayed in our before bed family routine.

And the good book she was talking about on this particular evening was the book called Wonder.

 

 

Actually, the specific book was a sequel – or companion book really – to Wonder called Auggie & Me.

We started with Wonder – maybe a month or so ago.  It’s a novel that’s been out for more than five years I think but now that there’s about to be a movie released based on the story, it’s reappearing on the front shelves of book stores.  I sort of hate that I am only now hearing about the book so I have to read a version with the sticker proclaiming “about to be a major motion picture”.  (It’s a little funny we’re still calling movies “major motion pictures”.)  Anyway, don’t let the fact that it’s about to be a major motion picture keep you from reading this novel.  Don’t let its current popularity turn you away from its pages.

I could not possibly do justice to the work of art that is Wonder – and also Auggie & Me – through this simple review.

Books are just words – right?  They’re just stories and ideas and collections of bits and pieces.

But you don’t know much if you don’t know story matters.  If you haven’t seen the power of story, you haven’t seen much.  Words add up and words change people.  

Wonder is the sort of book that changes you.  I honestly don’t want to tell you much of anything about this book – except to tell you to read it.

I guess I’ll tell you this much — The story centers around a boy named August who has been homeschooled all of his life because he was receiving multiple surgeries to try to correct facial anomalies with which he was born.  He’s entering fifth grade and traditional school for the first time.  It’s a book divided into the voices of different characters in the story, including August and his sister and August’s classmates.

It’s beautifully written.  The voices of each characters are clear and well-defined and multifaceted.

There’s a slight bit of potty humor I suppose – fifth grade boys, you know – but it’s all part of the story and was fine to me.

I also love the fact that it was partially inspired by a song I used to love by Natalie Merchant, a musician I listened to ad nauseam back in college and those surrounding years.

I read the entire book out loud to the kids and am half way through reading Auggie & Me out loud now.  There were times I had to stop reading because I was laughing.  And there were times, like tonight’s chapter from Julian’s point of view, that I could barely read because I was crying.

There’s so much good in both of these books.  But I’d say, simply put, the best good – the most important piece of the puzzle – my favorite takeaway, is empathy.  Empathy.  Thinking through someone else’s perspective.  Walking in their shoes.  Understanding the whys and the hows of their brain and their actions and their heart.  And it’s not just middle school boys and girls who could improve their lives and their outlooks with a generous dose of empathy – it’s moms and dads and human beings too.

The book is a work of art.  It’s clever and funny and not pandering or whiny.  It’s important.  I think it’s a book that matters.

The ideas and the stories in the novel have come up in conversation more than once when the kids and I talk abut certain situations or feelings or emotions.

I liked it so much I bought a copy in hardback.  (I generally borrow all the books from the library.  Yes, despite the fines.)

 

 

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Five Finds Friday (Harry Potter kitties & biscuits & tween fashion)

 

I like that the weather has finally turned cooler.  I don’t like that it’s dark by 6 pm.

I like that my teenagers are fun and interesting humans.  I don’t like that we are closer to graduation age than we are to starting kindergarten age.

I like that the weekend is upon us.  I don’t like that my to do list from last week carried right on over to this week.

 

 

funny

 

It’s a Harry Potter world at our house.   Dumbledore and Gryffindor and Mrs. Weasley are all names I am attempting to become more familiar with, just so I can have a shared language with my people.  (I even tried to get media passes to Universal Studios as a surprise Christmas gift for the big kids in particular.  Sadly – it was a no-go.  And paying the high cost of daily admission is a no-go currently too.)

Did you know that Williams-Sonoma has Harry Potter themed aprons and spatulas?  They do.

Items pop up at our house frequently decked out in Harry Potter-esque attire.

This week it was a folder with kittens on it, turned into a folder of kittens drawn as Harry Potter characters.

 

 

 

 

fashionable

 

If you’re local (or if you’re visiting friends or ME) I’m sure to direct you to shops and business in Travelers Rest.  It’s what I do.  But I also do it because I really like what’s happening there.

In a sweet storefront on Main Street is Goose Feathers.  Last weekend we stopped in and I could have purchased a half dozen or more items there.  They carry those messy bun beanies I mentioned last week.  (I didn’t buy one yet.)  And beautiful home decorations.  Plus flowy shirts, fun jewelry, cute shoes and a selection of adorable clothing for girls Piper Finn’s age.

I think she looks adorable in these leggings and this dress from there.

 

 

flavorful

 

It was a simple and quick recipe shared on Instagram.

 

 

I even went to the store and purchased self-rising flour just for this recipe.

On a Sunday brunch morning Otto and I whipped these up with our eyes practically closed.  Next to no effort and a quick cook time and suddenly we had big square delicious biscuits to accompany our roasted potatoes and fried eggs.  Slathered with strawberry jam, every one of us wanted two.

 

 

 

faithful

 

I don’t read all of Ann Voskamp’s blog posts because, well – they’re long.  But I almost always love them all when I do read them.

In this post she writes about “boring” men who don’t make extravagant and grand gestures when they propose or when they profess their love for their wife or their people.  “Boring” men who don’t use social media to make a fuss but show up early mornings and late nights and in a hundred other real life places.

I loved the post.  About faithfulness and genuine affection and daily acts of service.

I want to raise boys to become men like that.  I want to raise daughters who value men like that.

You should read it too.

 

feels

 

Probably ten years ago we met him.  Nate.  Our kids called him Nake when they were younger.

He was a college student then.  But he’s always been special to our family.

We’ve basically been members of his fan club since then.  He’s been around a long time – taking Mosley on adventures.  I cried at his wedding.

Last night he and his wife and their two young children came over for dinner and it was simple, just a short evening, but it was surreal and lovely to watch the life he and Laura have created and shaped.  To see them care for their children with calm love and certain affection.  To be a team and partners and friends and mama and daddy.

We don’t all get to grow old or live long lives.  (I think often of all my own sweet mom has missed out on witnessing and it hurts my heart still.  Just this week, standing in a restaurant, talking with a dear friend about missing our parents after they pass and we shared a quick round of tears and it’s always true – growing old is a privilege.)  So living long enough to see people like Nate and Laura mature from college students to married people to a family living their lives well, in abundance and in joy, swells up my heart in a heavy and a good way.

I loved looking at picture books with their daughter and the fact that she knows my name is a gift.

 

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life. in the right now.

 

This is life right now.

The house I currently live in puts on a pretty show – right?

 

 

I mean – just look at her.  From a distance.

There’s so much good about it – the allusion of rural only minutes from our town.  Wonderful neighbors.  High ceilings.  Wide door frames so I can swap furniture with relative ease from room to room.

And there’s also the other.  Mold that seems as unbeatable as sin.  The smell of musty old-ness that just seeps into every drawer and closet (of which there are only two) and floorboard in the house in South Carolina’s rainy season.  (Which is basically what our autumn and winter are here.)  Century old dirt that my kids shake down on our heads as they walk/run/jump/leap/roll upstairs.   A bathroom light that can’t be turned on and an endless assortment of random odd old house problems.

It’s not just the house either, of course.  It’s us.  It’s me.

I purchased reading glasses last week.  I’m ridiculously annoyed that they seem to actually help when I hold up the print of regular sized books these days.  What is happening to me?

I have one king-sized set of sheets for my king-sized bed.  They have received a rather large tear in them.  Every time I think about purchasing new sheets I think of other ways I would rather spend my $50 to $75 and I again lament that sheets are not something I can fake or make on my own in some low cost manner.

My kids are cute and funny but they stay up late now and they have been leaving candy wrappers all over the house and they make a lot of messes.

 

 

I love my dog but this aforementioned rainy season makes him gross.

An editing job I have been working on way too slowly hit a snag this week when I lost all of my saved edits as I was wrapping up the book.  Bummer.  Bummer.  Bummer.

On the other hand, our fridge and our pantry are well supplied and as London reminded me – nothing makes you feel quite so safe and cared for and prepared against the odds as food on the shelves and options in the pantry.

I was able to get in a three mile run/walk with a charming friend and the conversation was as good as (better than) the exercise.  (It’s alarming how you can once upon a time run a half marathon and then once upon a time struggle to complete a steady mile.)

It’s soup weather and I do loves me some soup all day every day.

It’s been fun to assign my high school daughter the classics – Count of Monte Cristo and Great Expectations.  Some of my favorites from back when I taught full classrooms of high school students.

 

 

Also – our daily family journal reminded me that one year ago this week I purchased and began Travelers Rest Here!  It’s been a fantastic year of growth and movement for that business I went out on a limb for and I have loved steering the ship there.

Life looks like all of these things right now – the mold and the classic novels.  The business fun and the lost book edits.

And it looks like these faces here and moving and breathing in the same space with them.

I’m not complaining.

 

 

 

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A Great Big List of Games

 

It’s underneath the tree every Christmas.

A new game.

Sometimes we open it on Christmas Eve to play, sometimes it gets played Christmas afternoon and sometimes it waits a couple of days to make the rounds.

But it’s long been a tradition – the new game for Christmas.

If your family likes to search out a new game for the holidays, I thought I’d take some of the guess work out of the search for you.

Some of the games listed I have written reviews for over the years and you can click on those to read more.  Some of the games I’m just telling you are fun and you’ll have to take my word for it.

I’d love to hear your game suggestions in the comments.  (The kids have requested Exploding Kittens this year but I can’t recall much about that game.  We still don’t own Trivial Pursuit so I’ve been leaning toward that one.)

Here you goOur Family’s Favorite Games.

Pass the Pigs.  You can buy the party set with multiple pigs and I think it’s worth it to avoid the sharing of the pigs in little hands.  I love this game – it’s equal parts silly and challenging and a bit of a gamble.  I also appreciate the fact that it is highly portable for restaurants and waiting and it can be played in five minutes or twenty.

Yam Slam.  This one has been a favorite for years.  It’s a lot like Yahtzee, but less complicated.

Telestrations.  Think the game telephone, but with art.  Endlessly hysterical to my family.  And fun for grown ups and kids.  (Yes, it frequently results in potty humor, but it doesn’t have to.)

Tenzi.  I love this one for lots of reasons – it’s easy to bring on road trips.  (Although it’s too loud for restaurant waiting, unless you’re eating in a barn and then – go for it.)  With two sets of Tenzi you can play up to ten players and that’s fun for large gatherings.  It’s simple and engaging for all ages and reading abilities – because there is no reading.  The instructions are fast so you get to playing right away.  (Long directions make me feel crazy.)

Rummikub.  It’s a game for four players and it’s a numbers game – which is why I find it surprising that I like it so much.

Timeline.  Yes, this is probably an educational game.  But I still really like it and so do the kids.  It’s also easy to bring on trips – ours stays in the car.  There are several versions (history, music, sports etc) and you can combine them if that’s your style.

Blokus.  This game is also for only four players and I think the directions are complicated but after having it explained and played for me a few times, I’m addicted to this one.  The kids are always eager to play this one too.

The Game of Keigley.  Sure – you can’t get this EXACT game at your house, but you can make your own version.  It’s SO worth the effort and we pull this one out waaaay too often.  In fact, last year we made miniature versions of this game for some of our friends’ families.  (It was a fun little gift – we bought small cute cards at Hobby Lobby and wrote out versions specific to that family.)

Pit.  It’s a card game where you are trading commodities to equal a full set.  It’s ludicrously loud and we all love it more than we should.

There.

That should give you a starting place to make a few Christmas decisions.  And, hey, Public Service Announcement of the self-serving variety, if you order any of these games through Amazon, use my link (right sidebar up at the top) and I get a teensy kick back from Amazon.  But teensy plus teensy over time equals small and small plus small over time equals helpful.

Happy Gaming, y’all.

 

 

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alone. married. single. not single.

 

It’s such a pervasive lie that it almost always sounds and feels like the truth.

It is promoted by society and culture, movies, songs, novels and well-meaning friends.

This lie that the culture keeps feeding us,

keeps shoveling down our throats through our screens and our movies and our words,

is that

to be fulfilled, to be a success, to be happy,

you must have a significant other.

A boyfriend. A girlfriend. A husband. A wife.

The idea is — you cannot be complete without romantic love.

Get a person!
Don’t be alone.
Happiness is not happiness until it is shared.
Soulmates.
Better half.
Til death do us part.

 

 

It’s tricky to write about love or marriage or singleness or what have you because we all come to the table with our own story, our own baggage.  We’ve got the history of the people who raised us and the history of the people whose relationships we have either admired or wanted to swing hard against.  We’ve got these ideals and expectations in our hearts and in our minds – some well thought out and some deep within our subconscious.

And it’s an idea I am just beginning to learn how to wrestle.

Why is it viewed so negatively – this idea of being alone?

Because I’m certainly not alone, of course.  I’m not all alone, despite the fact that I am without a spouse.

In fact, I am so rarely physically alone that it is downright noteworthy when I find myself thus.  People comment on it if I leave the house in such a state.  While this is still mostly always true today, it was even more so entirely true just a few years ago.  My kids are growing up and the clingy neediness of a toddler or a newborn has long since passed.

Why are we afraid of being alone?

Why do we secretly feel sorry for our single friends and pray that they will meet a life long mate?

I’m certainly not trying to declare one state as better than the other here.  Marriage vs Singleness.  But I think as a culture we do declare one state to be superior – particularly in the Christian culture, we assume that marriage is better than non marriage.

It’s complicated – right?  

I liked being married.  I liked gigantic parts and aspects of that season of my life.  (Some parts and portions I liked less.  Marriage is no steady love boat, people.)  And, although I would have most certainly stayed married my entire life had the choice been mine alone, I do not hate being unmarried currently.  Yes, there are sections and bits of being alone that really stink.  And there are bits and sections of being alone that are pretty fantastic. Both.  Isn’t that the most accurate view of our whole romantic situations anyway, if we’re honest?  Being married is hard.  Being single is hard.  Life is hard.  Being married is wonderful.  Being single is wonderful.  Life is wonderful.  Both.

I’d written out these thoughts here months ago.  Flipping them around in my mind – feeling all the ways about it all all the time.

Yesterday I read the following quote by Elisabeth Elliot (for whom my Mosely is named after, Mosely Elliot) and I thought that yes, she understands me.  Yes, she has this juxtaposition exactly accurate.  (And I appreciate the fact that she is a woman who understands, having been both married and single after her spouse passed away.)

Single life may be only a stage of a life’s journey, but even a stage is a gift.
God may replace it with another gift, but the receiver accepts His gifts with thanksgiving.
This gift for this day.
The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived—not always looked forward to as though the “real” living were around the next corner.
It is today for which we are responsible.
God still owns tomorrow.

Elisabeth Elliot

It’s the perfect quote for me to finally be able to push publish on these ramblings.

My real life is right now.

Yours is too.

 

 

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