Gathering My Thoughts

Outside my window:  The leaves are turning. It seems like the colors are duller this year, but there are spots of glorious maples, so I’m soaking those in. It was very chilly this morning. I need gloves and a jacket and a hat to run, but the sky is so gorgeous every day, at both sunrise and sunset. Well worth the shiver when I first step out. The morning glow was so gorgeous yesterday that, despite the instructions to “rest” (which I translate to “walk”) in my training plan, I found myself running so that I could see several of my favorite places as they came awake in the light. Autumn light shows are spectacular in Virginia.


Listening to:  Doctor’s office noises. I’m sitting in the waiting room at the physical therapist while Stephen works his Achilles.


Clothing myself in: Jeans and clogs and a sweater. I even pulled on a long jean jacket this morning. I’ve been so sad to see summer slip away this year, but I do love that jean jacket and it’s nice to have lots of handy, deep pockets again.


Talking with my children about these books:  Nicholas and I listened to Son of Neptune on the way to New Jersey and back and I’m now, officially, a Rick Riordan fan. I so enjoyed the book. Highly recommended narration, too.


In my own reading: it’s been all about the running reading binge lately. I’ll have a list of running books for you this week. I’m sure you can hardly wait;-).


Thinking and thinking: Actually, the brain is quieter these days. I’ve long been wrestling with some decisions and now they’re made. I feel so at ease with the course that lies before me that I’m thinking I decided the right thing. It took me almost 50 years to figure out that, really, I can’t be anything I want to be.



“It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill. Let the thrill go – let it die away – go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow – and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all around them.” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis


Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: I think we have settled into as much of a regular rhythm as I can expect. I still foresee leaving town for Charlottesville at least a couple of times in the next couple of weeks and it seems like there’s always some big thing happening, but the airplane trips are behind us, and so is the drama that is The Homecoming Dance, and a few big soccer games. The days are finding their rhythm. It’s good.


Creating By Hand:  Christmas pajamas. Tune in tomorrow for some news on a sewalong and a very generous giveaway from the Fat Quarter Shop.

Also, much pointe shoe sewing, costume altering, and tutu-embellishing.


Learning lessons In: Embracing new seasons. Life has changed so much in the last two years. Three of my children have moved out. One has married and made me a grandmother. I’m no longer nursing a baby; indeed, my “baby” is quite the little lady now. My body is shifting and changing nearly as quickly as my twelve-year-old’s. We’re both taking up running to meet the new challenges. I find parenting a handful of teenagers requires every last ounce of wisdom I may have acquired over two decades of babies and little ones. And it requires as a big a leap of faith every single day as something as crazy as, oh, I don’t know, openness to life.  There is a little chill in the air as this season settles in. Still, I am called to meet it with arms wide open.

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: It was cold enough this morning to pull on my favorite pair of Elizabeth DeHority socks. I’m praying so hard for her. Every minute is a struggle and she’s fighting valiantly to meet the struggle with love and grace.


Keeping house: I’m all about the domestic. During September, I was gone so much that the homemaking routine was seriously out of balance. Now, I’m back and it’s autumn—the perfect time for some deep-down cleaning. I like to do a big decluttering and deep scrub-it-til-it-shines kind of cleaning before we batten down the hatches and before the population in my home swells with school breaks and holiday visits. The time is now.


Crafting in the kitchen: There were thinly sliced boneless porkchops on sale the other day. Mary Beth wanted Chicken Parmesan. I made Pork Parmesan instead and it is destined to be part of the permanent rotation. “Bread crumbs” were actually crushed rice Chex and Italian seasoning. Everyone liked it (that’s ten of us because Kristin was here, too) and there were serious fights over leftovers for breakfast the next morning.


To be fit and happy: The on-again-off-again 31 day series on life and running will resume tomorrow. Or the next day. I don’t know; life keeps happening. It will be back soon.


Giving thanks: For a man who works so hard and provides so well that I am able to say “not now” to an opportunity I thought I always wanted in order to invest wholeheartedly in the places where God truly calls me.


Loving the moments: Kristin and I have committed to getting outside every Friday. We're going to work our way through a list of trails and nature parks in our county. Oh, and we're planning to let the children come along with us.


Living the Liturgy: Advent ideas. Among my lofty yearlong plans, etched in ink back in January, was an ebook full of the best of Advent ideas. I’d love to deliver that to you, but it would take a miracle at this point because not one word of it is written. I believe in miracles, but it’s far more likely I’ll just share here in less-convenient-for-you fits and spurts.

Tip one: Order your Advent candles right now. You will be very glad you did.

Tip two: This book is amazing. Karoline is working on a review for you, but seriously, AMAZING. You want to have it.




Planning for the week ahead: My first baby girl turns 18 on Thursday. Takes my breath away. She’s got some excellent celebration ideas. We shall begin with lunch out with mom, move on to Pioneer Woman’s whiskey steak for dinner, and then continue the celebration on a mountaintop with some of her dearest friends over the weekend. A girl after my own heart. Truly.