The past 2 months have been a struggle for me.
I have been trying to find a rhythm and thus far, my rhythm is still a ways off.
I have been trying to eliminate some of the things in my life that felt like they were weighing me down--and trying to focus on the things that matter most.
Some of the things weighing me down were tangible--like the clutter in closets and drawers, in Aaron's studio, in the laundry room, and in the garage.
I have tackled one space at a time.
It feels like it is taking forever, but I have to admit, I am pleased with the results.
There are a lot of people in this not so big house, and we have to be really practical about fitting us, and all our stuff in here.
Turns out, we need way less stuff than we have.
And the less stuff we have, the less we have to pick up and put away, and wash and fold, dust and wipe, and find room for.
Less of that stuff means more time for living.
All this has meant a lot less time for blogging.
And that has been hard for me.
I love to blog.
In the past, when Aaron would ask to play a game of cards (crazy fun card game, by the way) I would want to finish up a blog post first.
He was second, my blog was first.
This has been changing and it is good.
But, also, I am not afraid to admit, hard.
At the end of the day, I crave me time.
But when I chose we time instead of me time, (how cheesy does that sound!) I am happier.
For example, if the kids and I get the beds made and do a 15 minute sweep of the house right after breakfast and before we start school, then the day is instantly off to a better start.
This means that I can't laze around with my cup of coffee and peruse a few blogs after breakfast.
I like to do that.
But a smoother start to our morning, and therefore day, has proved to be better than that time spent with my coffee and reading blogs.
Also, I'm making an effort to put things away, right away, every time.
It's the only way those closets and drawers aren't going to become overwhelming again.
It also means that I have to teach my kids that this is the way we do things around here and actually make them do it, instead of grumbling about all the work they make for me, and then doing it myself.
Over and over again.
It means calling them back inside when they've left art supplies strewn across the floor of the school room and saying, "you have to put them away before you go out to play."
It means training them.
It means work at the front end.
But I have high hopes that someday they'll require less of me reminding them.
(maybe when they're married?)
We have more hours to spend reading all the amazing books on our reading list.
Every time we read, James says to me, "Mommy, I love it when you read stories to us."
Right now we're reading The Tempest (from this book), A Tree in the Trail, Leif the Lucky, Joan of Arc, Little House in the Big Woods for Lilly, Stuart Little for William, and James and I are starting Robin Hood.
It's a lot of reading.
But they all love it.
Just like they love art.
And nature study.
When we can make it outside for the afternoon, to paint and draw, to swing on a rope swing, in our backyard or somewhere else, to collect wild flowers and hunt for owls, then we are doing the kind of schooling that we all long for.
The kind of schooling that is the very reason I home school.
And the kind of schooling that wasn't happening nearly enough because I was getting weighed down by so much of the stuff in my life.
And some days, like the day in these pictures here, we do it and it is amazing.
And I feel so good.
I feel inspired.
I feel on top of the world.
I feel like I am doing the very thing I was meant to do.
Days like today.
Days when I feel defeated.
When I have finally caught up on the gigantic pile of laundry--the take 6 people camping pile of laundry--and decide it would be a good day to wash the sheets.
And then the kids have a water fight and there are beach towels to wash, and then there is poop on the shower curtain (yes, poop! what the heck!) and suddenly, my empty laundry basket is spilling out onto the floor of the laundry room again.
When we rake the backyard of avocado leaves, and sweep the driveway, and hose camping sand from the patio and put all the backyard toys away, and an hour later, those same toys are strewn about everywhere, along with dishes from lunch, and some candy wrappers, and it all looks like nothing was ever cleaned up.
When we're doing math, and Lilly interrupts, and climbs on William's chair, and he yells at her to get down, and I yell at her to sit still, and James is trying repeatedly to get my attention, and Davy woke up too soon from his nap.
When we miss yet another family dinner time because of baseball practice and the kids are eating hot dogs and getting into the tub when they should be getting into bed.
Yes, sometimes, I feel like this is all a big waste of time.
What am I even doing?
"Lilly never eats the bun, " I tell Aaron while I'm feeding Davy his dinner. "Just cut up the hot dog for her."
"But I wanted it like Wiiiiiiiiilliam," she cries when he sets her plate in front of her.
"Here," I snap, "have William's other half. He's full."
She takes the plate, promptly pulls the hot dog out of the bun, and begins to eat.
I look at Aaron and say, "sometimes I feel like my life is an exercise in futility."
And you know what?
Parts of this life are just that.
The sweeping up of crumbs, the washing and folding of laundry, the cooking of dinners and the washing of dishes, are always going to be there and are always going to be done again.
But the other things, the reading of good books, the time spent making art on our comfy quilt, the playing of cards with my man, the training, the discipling, the loving them as best as I can, and the real living of life together, those parts are not futile.
They knew it already.
And they said they were sorry.
It wasn't their fault really, but they said sorry anyway.
Because they love me.
Then later, when I cried again, and told them I was sorry for being impatient and not treating them with kindness, they said they forgave me.
Because they love me.
I could walk away from that feeling defeated.
I could tell myself that I messed up again--that I had to apologize for being a jerk of a mom.
But I am not defeated.
I am thankful.
I am thankful that my children keep me humble.
I am thankful that they are daily examples to me of grace.
I am thankful that tomorrow is a new day.
I am thankful for six hundred and fifty-fourth chances.
The hymn we are memorizing this month is, Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?
The second verse feels just perfect for me right now:
"Are you walking daily by the Saviour's side,
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucifed,
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?"
I am thankful that I don't have to do this on my own power, because then I would be defeated for sure.
Instead, I need to rest each moment in the Crucified.
(for an awesome blue grass version of this hymn, go here)
We all, at times, feel defeated.
Maybe in our marriage, our job, friendships, at school, with our weight, our habits, or in so many other parts of our life.
It's not just mothering that leaves us feeling that way.
And, so, as I walk these days, I cling to this verse:
"In this world you will have troubles, but take heart! For I have overcome the world." John 16: 33.
Take heart, my friends.
We are not defeated.
*All these pictures are from a couple of weeks ago, when we spent the afternoon at one of our favorite spots, Gum Grove park.
The wild mustard was all in bloom and I felt like I was walking down a road in heaven as we walked the path lined with it.
We saw our owl friend and found one of his feathers.
We found a new rope swing and tried it out.
It's much higher and faster than the old one, and William scared himself silly on his first ride, but he was laughing when he finally came to a stop.
We laid out the quilt and drew pictures of the owl feather and the wild flowers we picked.
We listened to a symphony of bird calls and watched hawks and hummingbirds circle over our heads.
It was the perfect kind of day.
And I am forever grateful for the memories made on days like this.
School days 2012