just one hour

Sometimes I am paralyzed by the thought of doing something.  I fret about all the work it might take to get there or the mess it might make that I already don’t feel like cleaning up.  It’s funny how such thoughts are such an energy drain.  Granted, getting myself and six kids ready and out the door more often than not causes breaches in my patience.  A batch of new play dough or a sewing project with a child inevitably creates piles of clutter and a crumbly mess on the floor.

But doing is always worth it no matter how hard it is to overcome the inertia of not.


found fort





almost done








Doing, acting creates more energy than all the fretting sucks up.

Just one hour can hold a whole day’s worth of connection, beauty, fun, wonder, and creative rejuvenation.

It’s one of those lessons I have to learn over and over and over.

(photos by both Brenna and I)

the first day of school

I wasn’t planning on starting school until Barry went back to work next week, but yesterday at breakfast he announced, “Tomorrow is the first day of school!”  How could I argue?

floor school

Really, I had intended on doing school over the summer and then taking a break when Eva came, but I COULD NOT make myself do it.  It was too hot, I was too tired, I was too pregnant, Hunter was too 2… But valuable lessons were learned.  The 2 year old learned to dress himself and use the potty (most of the time).  The kids figured out how to not be bored when Mom wasn’t giving them things to do– you know, things like that.  I’ve decided that our summer of doing nothing was a summer well spent.

And now I feel ready to do school.  One advantage of not doing it all summer, but having been prepared to, is that I’m all ready!  There was no scramble when the first day of school was moved up a week.

We’re using Sonlight for the 2nd or 3rd year now.  It is literature and history based– which is right up our alley.  My kids read and read and read– especially anything about dragons and magical lands.  I like having some structure and rhyme and reason to the things I read with them and ask them to read for school.  I get a box of books and an instructors guide that shows me how to get through all those books in 36 weeks.  Then I read to the kids, they read on their own, and we talk about it all.  It is expensive and I probably could figure out things to read on my own, but for this season in my life Sonlight has been a godsend.

This year Brenna chose to study Core G.  She’s also doing Apologia General Science.  At her Monday school she’s doing Spanish, Art, Science, International Towne, and Language Arts.  She’s got quite a full load– and has been really excited about it.  She’s doing everything on her own with little interference by me.  All I do is read over the journal entries she writes about everything she reads.  Oh– and I’m the piano teacher.

Jonah and Logan are doing Core C.  They’re doing Apologia for science as well.  We’re finishing up birds from last year, then we’ll see if they want to do Astronomy or Swimming Creatures.  As far as math goes we’re using Math-U-See for everyone.

One goal I have is to be consistent in teaching my kids to play the piano.  That has always been so hard for me, but I play the piano so well it is really a shame that my kids don’t.  And since we really can’t afford to pay someone else to teach them all piano lessons I NEED to do it.  So I will.  I did today!  That’s a start, right?

littles wiggle

Ian is working on reading his Bob Books, dressing up as a super hero with Hunter, and talking to Eva.  Hunter is learning to poop in the potty and not to climb on top of other people all the time.


Today went really well, but I did have a husband fluttering around in the background, policing toddlers, making lunch, washing canning jars.

We crowned our first day of school with our annual token attempt at self-sufficiency.

peeled and shiny

We canned peaches.

peeling peaches

the slimy job

putting it all in jars


We did 12 quarts (It probably would be more accurate if I said Barry did 12 quarts with a little help from the rest of us).  Certainly not a year supply, but we know how to do it and the kids love the real work (and eating the peaches we can’t fit into jars).

First day of school– blissful.

daring jumping spider

After I got out of the shower this morning I heard Jonah exclaiming “I caught it! I caught it!”  He did tell me a few times yesterday that there was a big, cool spider by his window, but I didn’t think much about it.  He caught it this morning and he and Logan did all they could to learn who exactly their bedroom visitor was.  This is what I found on the table when I sat down for breakfast:

daring jumping spider

They used their field guide searching skills and discovered they had a Daring Jumping Spider.  Jonah made him a habitat in a jar.  Logan drew a picture.  All the boys went out in the rain in search of small insects to feed him.

I love it when stuff like this happens with absolutely no input (or interference) from me.  I hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet and I could count it as a good school day.

time to breathe

Today was a day I’m thankful I don’t send my kids to school everyday.  (The oldest 3 just go on Mondays.)  The school year is winding down, so there were class parties that needed treats prepared for, teacher gifts to remember, and the regular making of lunches, nagging to get shoes on, and feeding and clothing the littlest boys in order to get in the car and to school on time.  I am not a person that thrives on busy-ness and, quite frankly, getting 5 kids ready to get in the car is not my favorite thing to do.  Believe it or not, these little people all have minds of their own, and as much as I’d like them to immediately follow my every command when we’re trying to get out the door and somewhere ON TIME, they don’t.  By the time I had got them to school I was tired out for the day– but I had one appointment after another ahead of me.

And so Hunter and Ian and I were go, go, go until the big kids got home.  Then it was driving to karate, picking up from karate, Dad working late, wrestling matches in the family room gone awry (with at least 3 kids screaming like they were dying at one time), trying to figure out something for dinner, and feeling unsettled by the whirlwind of papers and toys and pillows and blankets strewn about the house.

I thought– there are people that do this every day– that have every minute scheduled, rushing from school to lesson to appointment to hectic meal where there is no real time together because those brief moments are spent hurriedly trying to get things done so you can all move on to the next thing.  And then I was overcome with gratitude for this path that I’m on where, for more days than not, we can go at our own pace, be intimately familiar with each other,  and the kids can draw and draw and draw and read and read and read.  I thought of these pictures of Hunter


who can spend all the time he wants intensely making his 2 year old “space men” and “lightnings”, who every minute has big brothers who draw with him and for him

paper and tape is all you need

and with their big brother magic (and some paper and tape) turn him into a “lightning space man”.

I’m thankful for all the unscheduled time to just be, to be real, to be really together.

I’m thankful for time to breathe.