Gathering My Thoughts after a Long While

It's been a very long time since I've gathered my thoughts into one space here. About a week ago, I was too tired to run during soccer practice and too tired, even, to read. Just as I pulled into the parking lot, a friend texted and asked if we could catch up. I wasn't too tired talk. Among the many things we talked about in that hour or so, we happened upon my unintended writing sabbatical. And one of the things she reminded me was that I write to make sense of things for myself. That's very true. So, she continued, it's probably time to start writing again.

Here goes.

Outside my window:  Right now, it is dark outside my window. I'm in bed in "my" room in Charlottesville, where my father and stepmother live. The shutters are open and the windows are wide to let in the breeze. It was an absolutely perfect Virginia spring day. Everything but the the crepe myrtles are in bloom in this town, it seems. They'll be along later when they don't have to compete with the dogwoods and Bradford pears, and crabapples, and tulip trees. Every day, the world outside grows a little more green. I don't remember ever being quite so glad to see the spring as I am this year. 

Listening to:  The whir of the ceiling fan. The faint sound of Adventures in Odyssey coming from the little girls' room.  Incidentally, I love Odyssey. I feel like those characters are family; they've been along on so many road trips with us.

Clothing myself in: Today, I wore capris and t-shirt. But I had a chance to fancy up with lace and skirt tonight. We went with Patrick to a dinner celebrating the soccer team's NCAA National Championship title. He came away with quite a ring...


Talking with my children about these books:  The girls are all aflutter at the new Penderwicks book. In order to maintain some semblance of peace, we settled Karoline into re-reading the first one, and Katie re-reading the second while they waited for Mary Beth to binge on the fourth and then pass it along. Are you a Penderwicks fan? Such great stories!

In my own reading: I've been reading a lot these days, books on audio and books in hand. I've several to share. Recently, I finished The Rosie Project. it was a delightful, funny story of a professor with Asperger's syndrome who falls in love with a most unlikely "wife candidate." It was a sweet, touching, and also fascinating look at Asperger's through a very different lens.

Thinking and thinking: Oh, wow. I really wish I could turn off my brain sometimes. There have been days lately that I'm weary of living inside my own head. Mike went to a leadership workshop last week that focused on Myers-Briggs types. He learned his own and learned a good deal about typing in general. All very fascinating. I've long known my type (INFJ), but never really done much with it. I had never tried to type my husband or my children to see how we all fit together. Last week, I learned that I am vastly outnumbered by Thinking Extraverts. A house full of noisy commanders who leave it to me to feel all the things. And I do. Oh, how I do. For all of us. Ahem. 

 I'm also reading: The Highly Sensitive Person. Because I am one, and they are not (bless their hearts). Are you highly sensitive?

Pondering: Elizabeth DeHority died on Holy Thursday. That was more than two weeks ago. I keep reaching for my phone to text her. I keep expecting to see an email in my inbox. Before the Tuesday before she died, I don't think I've gone more than a day in the last six-and-a-half years without hearing from her. The silence is striking. Ann and Ginny both wrote lovely tributes.  I didn't. I can't find the words. I did start a new knitting project, though. 

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: I think we are maintaining as much of a regular rhythm as I can expect. I'm driving back and forth to Charlottesville every couple of weeks for one thing or another. Patrick will have surgery in early May and will need to stay here all summer for physical therapy and conditioning. I cannot begin to adequately capture how grateful I am that he chose to go to school here, in this town. I love to be here. And I have a home here. For a kid who moved around a whole lot, "home" is something not to be taken for granted. 

Creating By Hand:  Ugh. I'm sewing dance costumes and not loving it much at all. it's not real sewing--it's rigging to make costumes fit well enough to fool the audience. Oliver + S just announced a super cute new pattern. I plan to make at least four of these. I really miss sewing and I  recognize how important using that part of my brain and my hands in that manner is to me. Making time...

Learning lessons In: Grief. And fear. April is always hard in the fear department. This April has been brutal.

Encouraging learning in: Carefully reading the assignment, doing exactly what one is asked to do, and completing it cheerfully and on time. As homeschoolers, one of the biggest benefits is the ability to tailor a lesson, a course, or an entire childhood education. If the lesson as written goes on and on with endless repetition well beyond what is necessary for mastery, we just cut it short. If the method doesn’t work, we switch to something else.  Creativity is encouraged wildly. Rarely is a kid sent off on his own to muddle through vague directions. We’re right there to keep things on course. And if they were away all weekend at a soccer tournament and the bus broke down on the way home and it’s early on Monday and they’re tired, I cut them all kinds of slack. What I’m learning though, is that they need to learn how to work that other system—the institutional system—before they leave home. They need to understand how to follow directions and that sometimes we do stupid assignments because that’s what it takes to get through the class. Unless I teach them how it all works, they’re in for quite a shock.  I’m not sure how to balance the reality that they need those institutional skills with my own philosophy that everything must have meaning and the best education is a creative one, carefully tailored towards a child’s strengths. Daily, there is a striving for balance between two worlds.

Begging prayers: For rest. Please Lord, peaceful rest. 

Living the Liturgy: I love the Easter season. I love to occasionally to something special and out of the ordinary and then just nonchalantly explain it to my children by saying, "Oh, of course, it's still Easter." Mike has been traveling a brutal lot. Sarah and I got up early one morning when we knew he was taking the first flight home. They had a breakfast tea party. Because, you know, it's still Easter.

Keeping house: I've been spending a lot of time in my other home--the one in Charlottesville where my father and stepmother live. It's a beautiful house that is beautifully decorated. There is no clutter. Every time I come down, one of my children will remark that they love a house with no clutter. But then we get home, and they're all about their clutter. I will not wish away these days for an empty nest. I will keep shoveling clutter in this season of clutterstorms, though.

Crafting in the kitchen: Today begins Heather's Whole Food Kitchen Workshop. Perfect Timing. What I love (among other things) about Heather's workshop is that it's not didactic; there's no cramming one way of eating down one's throat. Heather acknowledges that each of us has to find her own way to nourish. What works for me, might not work for you. I've really seen that in my house the last couple weeks. My husband is rocking a low carb diet. He's hit that place where weight is dropping very steadily. I'm eating the same way. Up two pounds. ;-). [Note: this is not an ad for the workshop, Just passing along friendly information. I'm not being compensated for my wholehearted endorsement.]

Speaking of ads, there are no more here. I heard you. I am very, very grateful for the people who sponsored this blog and I hope that you benefited from knowing about them. But for now, we'll just have quiet. I can do quiet very nicely. Of that, I am sure. 

To be fit and happy: The trails are truly calling. Everything is coming alive outside and I'm happily trotting along again--some walking (long distances) and some running (not long distances at all). I've been reunited with my Fitbit, charged the battery, and began anew today. Gretchen Rubin's new book, Better Than Before, has reminded me how monitoring my habits really works for me. Track my steps: move a lot more. Keep a food diary: eat more mindfully. Tell you all about a sewing project with needle & thREAD: sew more and read more. Accountability is a very good thing. Springtime is a great time for a habit refresh! And that book? Highly, highly recommended. Life-changing, I do believe. 

Giving thanks: For my stepmother. Charlottesville has long been home to me. Her house is my soft place to land. I'm grateful for the comfort I find there. 

Loving the moments: Kristin and I have been brainstorming some super fun project ideas. Stay tuned for a homeschool workshop and an advent journal and maybe something special for new mamas. Not a day goes by that I'm not completely and totally awestruck by how much I love that girl. She might be midlife's best surprise.

Planning for the week ahead: The bluebells are blooming. That's all the plan I've got.