Percival is O N E

Percival Robert.

A whole year with you has passed, and again, I am in awe. How can twelve short months, a string of days, bring about so much growth in a baby? And how is it that you’ve only been here for a year — haven’t you always been a part of who we are? It certainly feels like that.

In the last six weeks you’ve figured out walking — from figuring out how to pick your feet up while standing (that was a big moment!) to walking as quickly as your bow-legged stance can handle. And it’s the cutest thing to see you suddenly arrive around the corner, fists up in the air for balance, wobbling at every turn. But I’ll admit, seeing the rolls on your arms and legs melt away with all of that walking made me sad. You’re growing — and growing up.

I loved this year with you, Percival. How many times did I just laugh over your rolls! And how delightful to see every one of your siblings immediately and completely fall in love with you. You still wake up each morning and from every nap to exclamations of your name as everyone pauses to smile in your direction. For many months, your morning routine was to want to be wrapped snug and tight, held with your head snuggled in my neck, while I walked and bounced around my room — and you’d quietly and quickly drift off to sleep. Oh, so sweet, and a moment in each day when it was just you and me. I cherish that.

Happy, smiling, already working so hard to get a laugh from your adoring fans. I think God’s idea of family is so amazing, as I see you confidently take your place in our world, knowing from the very start that you belong here, you are loved here, and all that we have is yours.

In another calendar change, you’ll be 2 — you’ll spend a few more months wrecking Enid’s play before you figure out how to constructively engage. You’ll figure out how to say “Mama” on purpose, and probably a good hearty “no”, too. We’ll freshen up our matchbox collection and maybe you’ll rediscover Jameson’s beloved trains. Whatever it may be, I’ll be here, soaking it up, wishing it could slow down, smiling at the simple fact that you are.

off and running!

Two weeks since the first day of school? How can that be! Surely it’s been months — or at the least, months’ worth of living!

Oh my, how we dove right into the fall: school books, new and old instruments, cooking lessons, birthdays, lunch dates, dinner guests, apple picking, Eisenhower Locks, dance classes, and special church events. Fortunately all to the tune of gorgeous weather, so at least I haven’t had to add “seasonal clothing switch” to the list quite yet!

summer’s end

Before I could properly get my hands around it, summer was gone. Right from the start, it was flying away faster than ever, wildly dashing in a hundred directions, every day leaping from my grasp. And so I settled for making sure there was food and sunscreen and a smiling mama, and did my best to keep up.

And in the busyness, I realize how much life we lived. No, it wasn’t the life of other years, when days stretched long and kiddie pools kept everyone hemmed in and entertained, when young skinny boys didn’t notice mosquitos and forged their way into the woods for hours, when the house paused with the heat of every afternoon for a book and a nap. I had to look that twinge of sadness directly in the face and say Good bye, time for you to head up into the attic of my heart with so many other precious memories.

This summer, with the plates spinning, was the one God was serving up this year, and like my kids faced with the dinner I put on the table (which, generally, is perfectly good eating), I have to decide that I may as well learn to enjoy the flavor of the season because it’s “what’s for dinner,” so to speak. And turns out, the flavor of this new season is wonderful in its own way. It truly is.

Before hurdling along to a full school year, a quick recap:

Flowers at church and flowers at home.

Strawberries with my two big girls.

Visiting Richville many Sundays and getting to lead worship with my two boys on the team.

The first of two visits from my grandparents.

An anniversary get-away to Saratoga Springs.

Summer nights spent playing frisbee (the boys) and playing in the park (the girls and me.)

A wonderful 4th of July with friends.

Ice cream outings.

A trip to Watertown together.

Ten days at Higley Flow, full of swimming and boating and jet skiing and tubing.

Garden gift for a garden party.

A second lovely visit from my grandparents.

A couple of busy weeks culminating in a show and Jameson’s percussion debut.’

A Saturday overflowing with extended family visits.

Beatrice’s tenth birthday party — a wonderfully special evening with friends.

Fiona’s “friend party” and her long-desired Victoria Sandwich.

Two weeks in one of our favorite spots, Trout Lake — where we relaxed, swam every single day no matter the temp, read tons of books, kayaked, paddle boarded, s’mored, fished, celebrated Fiona’s real birthday, and enjoyed an almost non-stop flow of friends and family.

And suddenly, we were home and the page needed to be turned to September. Candles needed to join the morning ritual, books needed to be sorted and pencils sharpened, and we found ourselves diving into a brand new year of school. But that’s a post for another time.

Today’s is simply to look back on three months bursting with beauty, prayer, walking through highs and lows with friends, big events and thousands of moments — rich and wonderful and threaded through with flowers. Because aren’t flowers the best part of summer?

what my school BOOK plans look like, 2021-22 edition

I’m about to send in my IHIPs for this coming school year (iykyk), and am fond of having a record here of what that plan looks like — at least the bare bones of it all!

Jameson will be entering 10th grade. His work load will look like Teaching Textbooks Geometry, Apologia Chemistry, Memoria Press Logic I, Beautiful Feet Ancient History+, computer building and programming, and piano.

William is starting 8th grade. He will do Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra, Answers in Genesis Physical Science, Beautiful Feet Ancient History+, computer programming, and guitar.

Beatrice will be in 5th! Crazy. She’ll do Teaching Textbooks Math 5, Beautiful Feet Ancient History++, Spectrum Language Arts, handwriting, and piano.

Fiona is going into 3rd grade. She’ll do Bob Jones Math 3, Beautiful Feet Ancient History++, Spectrum Language Arts, Getty-Dubay Italics C, Child’s Garden of Verses copywork, and piano.

Cecily is officially beginning! I’m going to try The Good and the Beautiful for language, although I bought the pre-K bundle. I am just not a fan at the speed with which kindergarteners these days are fed language. She will also do Bob Jones Math K, some Explode the Code, and Beautiful Feet Ancient History++. She is so excited!

Enid has her own little collection of mazes and flip books and colorforms that she doesn’t know about. She will be in heaven!

The little plus signs after Beautiful Feet? I’m excited about doing much of my own thing, once again, with our history/literature/writing and even science unit study. (The girls will have their science included in Ancient History as we learn about climates, animals, geometry and physics in pyramid building, preservation in mummies, etc.) I’m going to lean heavily into BF’s structure and reading list, which follows a 2-prong intermediate and high school approach, and tie us all together with one-room-schoolhouse read-alouds and projects. Figuring out how to manage the various levels is feeling more and more like juggling fine china, but finding a way forward that balances independent and intense work with the warmth of family gathering moments is my goal!

pleasant places

When I was 14 or 15, or maybe 16 (what a blur), Andrew Eastmond recorded an album that was on repeat for an entire summer, and made a regular reappearance for many years after. Beautiful songs that were more than just songs — lines of scripture that did exactly what the Word is meant to do: bring life. I’m laughing at the memory of extension cords strung together so that we could listen to music while weeding gardens or painting front porches. Clumsy technology, but it worked, and so did that Living Word. It divided, like a sword, my emotions and motives. It lit up shadows, exposing garbage and imparting the grace to toss it out. It renewed my mind, washing away false ideas and leaving behind the strength of truth. And it became Rock I stand on, am defined by, decades later.

And all to beautiful melodies that I’ll never forget. Music is such a powerful way to memorize scripture.

The one that stands out, that has hemmed me in so beautifully through so many moments of my life, is from Psalm 16.

“O Lord You are — you’re my portion and my life
You’re my inheritance and cup.
You maintain my lot,
And the lines have fallen to me
In pleasant places, oh my God.”

When I was 14, 15, 16 — the oldest daughter of 8 (at the time), called upon to serve every day. A young disciple making decisions to follow Jesus, regardless of what others chose to do.

When I was 18 and trying to discern which way to go, which path to follow.

When I was single, in my 20s, following a step at a time on a unique journey.

When I was in labor with my first baby, trusting that life is a gift from the Lord and He would walk with me through every step of this endeavor.

When seasons of pressure and difficulty came, and it was tempting to wish for their lot rather than mine.

Over and over, when things went differently than I’d imagined or anticipated, instead of wondering why, there was this bedrock in my soul: “You maintain my lot, and the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.” And not only is He governing the days of my life, creating something unique and beautiful through my surrender to Him, but — how wondrous is this! — He is my portion!!

God Himself. My portion. My life.

And now I am raising another generation, lives formed and created by God, just as I believe mine to be. Called to love Him and serve Him, whatever path that may lead them on. But not just someday — now. I can look at each of them and confidently say, “The lines that have fallen to you today are good, and Jesus is here to be found.”

Oh Jesus, You are and always will be enough.
“You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”


joy in repenting

Following Jesus is choosing a life of repentance. Truly, it is one and the same.

But what does that look like? Maybe you immediately assume that is an ongoing sense of pietistic self-abhorrence. Or, in plain language, walking through life feeling bad about yourself and mumbling, “I’m sorry; forgive me,” under your breath at every turn.

Oh, it’s so much deeper than that. And so much better.

It looks much more like this:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding.;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,

and He shall direct your paths.”

The way our hearts are wired, and the way His Spirit leads — well, those are in direct opposition. And as we simply trust in Him, and acknowledge Him with each step, we are in so doing “repenting” and following. Repent, really, means to turn and walk the other way. The impulses of anxiety, pride, envy, selfishness, anger, jealousy, hatred, malice — those things are repented of, moment by moment, when we continually choose to acknowledge Him instead. A continual turning of our hearts toward Jesus means, of course, turning away from the impulses that seek to rule us.

“What is Your thought on this, Lord?”
“How does Your truth change the way my soul responds right now, Lord?”
“What are the words You are speaking that I can echo?”
“What is important to You in this moment of overwhelm?”

“…because I trust You, Lord.”

Suddenly a life of repentance sounds much less like self-flagellation and much more like turning your face toward the sun on a perfect summer day. It sounds like joy.