February, in photos

The shortest month, almost done. So much just life crammed into four short weeks. So many moments of ordinary, and every one special and meaningful. I think that’s amazing.


This little one learning to stand, and take a few steps. Making us laugh with antics, loving when all eyes are on her.


This oldest one readily helping out each and every day.


Many mornings spent at the kitchen table, with kids drawing or painting while I read out loud from our current history selection. This hour+ is NOT on the schedule I made last fall, but that’s my favorite part of deep winter months: the quiet hours of books and creativity that sort of insert themselves in a way that just fits.


Mornings that occasionally look like this. Waking early and getting out for a walk before it all begins has been harder this winter than any other season in 5 years! But I keep trying. Something is better than nothing.


This blurry pic represents a whole-family excursion to scope out a new business location. As soon as we were all buckled in, I suddenly realized we hadn’t done anything all together since Christmas. We went out for dinner and it was special. We love each other.


We read lots of books in the winter. I wish it could be more — does anyone else look over their bookshelves and think, How can we read all of these wonderful stories today?!? But a moment here and a page there. It’s regular and routine and part of our lives, and I’m glad for that.


Reading is also togetherness most of the time.


I love hearing the boys read out loud. They put their best into it (although occasionally not, and I tell them to do it all over without the race-to-the-end effect!) This book is our 2017 winter favorite. “Snow,” by Uri Shulevitz. The kids always begin the story with title and author, because saying “Uri Shulevitz” is the most fun. If you don’t have this book, and you have littles, get it! Fiona had the story memorized immediately, so captivated was she by the simple text and fun illustrations.


February is when spring endeavors begin. William has begun rehearsals twice a week for his role in the upcoming high school musical. And no, he’s not in high school yet. Phew.


This. Every morning (except the occasional day when my routine gets thrown off and I forget!) A salad for Ryan. Probably most people think of him as a free spirit, spontaneous. And he is, somewhat. But not completely. He loves, craves routine. So each morning, this.


This past week, days that reached 60* (!!!), and rain that has melted all but the biggest piles of snow. But the week before, the loveliest snowfall of the entire winter. What I have no pictures of is the kids outside. Every single day, regardless of how on or off track we are, they head outside after lunch. They laugh and play (and fight and resolve), and are friends, even the ten year old boy and three year old girl. I love it.


This baby of mine. I just love her. She naps in a little “nest” on the floor, because I’m a weird hippie or something. We have no crib. Somehow I’ve always gotten through the crib stage without one, even if it’s a bit unconventional for a few months. She’s too old to be left on my bed, of course, but wants to lay down and nurse to sleep at nap time. So we do. I love these baby days. I know, and you know: they go too fast.


One of those mornings I did get out to walk, I sacrificed exercise for fellowship. I’ve been thinking about cultivating friendship with these girls. Rapport. Fiona, especially, really loves me. Somehow it’s easy to not really notice that, or to somehow think she just loves the mom in her life, but not necessarily me. I don’t want to take for granted or assume her affection. She’s a unique person who genuinely loves me as a person.

And so much more not pictured. Thoughts, conversations, piano lessons and meals and laundry piles and chores crossed off. Friends and family we share life with all week long. Choices made that allow for regular remembrance of Who our lives belong to and how we can honor Him.

So Happy Sunday. Thanks for following along with this update of the ordinary. Have a blessed day!

building my house

It feels like yesterday that I wrote this post about laying foundations, the first step in a wise woman’s quest to build her house.

And, pinch me, but I’m already seeing strength rising up where there was a deep muddy chasm only a few years ago. It’s pretty amazing. Little things: I put dirty clothes through the cycles of washer and dryer, and then TA-DA!, it’s folded and on my dresser the next morning. I make dinner, serve it, and then sit on a couch to read a book with Fiona while the kitchen is put back together. I say, “Oh dear, Daddy is coming home right now!”, and the ten minute scurry that ensues actually results in a tidy home — usually while I just continue to cook the dinner or mind the baby.

Today, I noticed it after lunch. I picked up a book and the baby and said, “Finish lunch, clean up, get each other dressed, and go out to play. I’m going to go lay Cecily down for a nap.”

I sat in the armchair in my bedroom and snuggled the baby, while snippets of laughter and song and conversation — always so much conversation! — wafted through the closed door from kitchen. She fell asleep, I laid her down. Walking down the hallway, I paused. I heard William singing happily, “God’s not dead, No!,” while his sisters laughed and tried to sing along. Swish, swish, the sound of snow pants, and then quiet. A few minutes later, I saw the foursome parade through the snow, smiling and running.

(They are the most joyful children. I am struck by that almost daily, challenged by it.)

I finished showering and dressing, and came out to the kitchen. It’s not quite perfect — four pairs of shoes helter-skelter, wherever the wearer happened to kick them off, down the center of the kitchen. But it’s pretty close. Amazingly close.

Just a little moment, but fruit. They are growing in work and ability, in love and care for one another, and I sometimes get to just sit, watch, and marvel.

I matched those little shoes with a smile.

just life: two

Two is:

the number of pretty Eastern Bluebirds that perch on my birdhouse occasionally. Each time I see them, my breath catches at the delicate wonder of them. Perfect hues.

the number of flower-crowned princesses I found playing.

how many dolls are carefully arranged on bed each morning.

the chubby thighs, legs, feet on this doll.

the boys and the girls gathered by fire. School mornings are slow when the fire is warm!

the number of little girls playing on the floor while Mama rested on the couch during last week’s virus.

Two.

christmas time is here

The first week and a half of the much-anticipated Christmas season is already past. A month that is full of “musts”, and yet simultaneously is a blank slate each year, waiting for me, the Mama, to plot a course led by the Holy Spirit for this year. What will be the big rocks for this particular year? What are our hearts especially needing? What opportunities are arising that we are uniquely fitted to engage?

How can I help these little hearts see Jesus?

And so I try to listen to that small whisper, and we dance and celebrate and bake and read and play (and crash and repent) our way through these special days. We bring boughs and lights and most-special ornaments and figures into our rooms, and our everyday home becomes a place of beauty and celebration — and I remember how God Himself comes into the everyday place of my heart and makes it beautiful and heavenly, something altogether amazing.

So far, our month has included decorating, getting a tree, snuggles with Daddy, working on embroidery projects and other things, playing in fresh snow, Christmas concerts, outings, playing piano at a nursing home, and just enjoying candles and “special.”

ode to november

Some really don’t like November. It looks old and worn and cold and bare, I suppose, to some.

But I really really love November. It’s when the skies turn gray, the corn fields are golden stubble, and stark trees wave dark lacy branches. The palette turns soft and subtle. After a month of riotous color, quiet begins to slip in.

And I do love me some quiet.

Before we launch into this new month of celebration, a reflection on November and the fog, snow, super-moons, and beauty I managed to notice these past 30 days:

november 5

Oh, autumn. How I love thee.

This year, in no particular order, some of the moments to remember:


No words.


Finishing her second book


Nightgowns and little rocking chairs, favorite books and blonde ponytails.


The cutest profile ever made


Sudden warm days with favorite people


My favorite little-girl freckles on a sweet face that is getting older every day


A few days with special family


Running in long shadows of a fall evening.


Making wishes.


Two Papas to love


Discovering windows, watching the snow


The year’s first snowflakes


Dress up, always dress up


Our annual trek with these wonderful kiddos


This munchkin is more lovable every day


Making me laugh


One amazing sunrise…


After another.


Winter foods appearing


Gathering close in the dark evenings.


Making memories.

Memories of the special things, but most of all, memories of the everyday. That’s my favorite thing about fall: the memories I have tucked away of school on a blanket, altogether; of days falling into a rhythm of books and work and play; of lighting candles on the table each night just because it’s dark and we like cozy; of life together.

It’s so far from perfect — I am so far from perfect!! — but it is so rich.