Category: Our Family (page 1 of 3)

Summer Break!

Happy late summer to you! For the next few weeks, I’m going to put my feet up and take a break—I hope you don’t mind. I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but here in the Pacific Northwest, these last weeks of summer are like those droplets of water falling from the hose when you water the garden too late in the day: that is, fleeting. They evaporate almost before they hit the sunflower leaves.

The rain is coming for us, and the early nights. So while my girls are still home from school and the ice cream truck is still making its rounds through our neighborhood, I’m going to take some time away from blogging to nap in the hammock. For a little while longer, I’ll banish all thoughts of school supply shopping.

And I’ll stock up on great books to share with you in September. Wherever you are and whatever it looks like, may the rest of your August be full of unexpected delights! I’ll see you when our lone hollyhock is done blooming.

Life in General

For over a week now, our old couch has been sitting in the front yard with a free sign on it. It’s deep purple and we have loved it, but now that two of the girls are nearly full-size, the six of us can no longer squeeze comfortably onto it for a movie night. So, to the curb it’s gone. But nobody seems to want our old couch: day after day it’s waited there in the sun, inviting the attentions of strangers yet being rebuffed.

This fourth of July, though, was the first one that, instead of putting the girls to bed at seven and waking them at ten, we let them all stay up to watch the fireworks. We took an evening walk, came back and ate cherry pie, then sprawled out on our expansive new couch and passed the time until 10:30 by watching episode after episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender.*

And then—doused in bug spray and wrapped in blankets—we squeezed onto the old couch one last time, with Hondo at our feet. From our front yard, we watched the city’s fireworks display punctuate the summer sky.

(I know. You’re wondering, when is she going to get to the books? I will. But not today. Today I want to share with you a little of our life these days.)

When I began this blog, two of our daughters were very young; the other two hadn’t yet arrived. I shared stories and pictures of our family’s life in a way I’ve gradually stopped doing as they’ve grown older. I’m more guarded, I guess, about their privacy, and about the things I share about them online now (let’s just say I’m grateful my parents didn’t have social media accounts when I was a teen). But they are older. It’s bizarre. Those grocery-store prophetesses who warned me that it would go by so fast—they irritated me when the girls were small and aging month-by-month and I was exhausted and enjoying it so much, okay? But they weren’t joking. Now that nobody’s nursing and everyone’s out of diapers and I haven’t carried a human being in my body for over five years, the time really does seem to run through my fingers.

Years ago, Mitch and I entertained the idea of taking each of the girls on a one-on-one trip: I’d take them each somewhere for their thirteenth birthday; he’d take them each somewhere when they turned eighteen. With a big family and a single income, family trips that involve six airline tickets aren’t high on our list of possible ways to spend time, so this would be a way to both explore somewhere new together and to whisk each of them away from the family maelstrom to spend time together one-on-one. So this summer, I’m taking Lydia to Concord, to see Louisa May Alcott’s house, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and various other sites of historical and literary importance. She chose these places; I can’t wait to explore them with her. But of course this means that, egad, the daughter that was four (or thereabouts) when I began this blog is now thirteen.

So, that is one way our family has changed lately. But another big thing is that I’ve begun editing books. For years I worked for Deeply Rooted Magazine, editing articles and working with writers. Then I spent a couple of years sort of spinning my wheels and wondering: what next? God had brought me to a place where it finally sunk in that it was time to step down from Deeply Rooted and focus on homeschooling the girls: okay. Relinquishing that role was hard and I wasn’t exactly happy about it, but I did it. And then a few months later, he brought us to a different place, where it was clearly time to reenroll our girls in school. So, I left that position to homeschool and then didn’t have any kids at home to homeschool. And God said, in the ways he does, wait.

Then he took several seemingly separate strands—a friendship begun while working for Deeply Rooted, an artist whose work I have respected and admired for years, even the sudden free time brought on by the pandemic—and wove them into a sturdy rope. He gave me the time and opportunity to begin editing books on a freelance basis. I enjoy this immensely; I also have moments when I wonder if my brain is liquifying, so overloaded is it with grammar, usage, and software tutorials. Sometimes after a long bout of editing, I go outside for a while and stare at the cottonwood trees.

It is good to be reminded of life’s grandeur after tending to its minutiae.

Most of the editing I’ve done so far has been for Square Halo Books, and I love the books they publish so much I worry sometimes that my enthusiasm sounds insincere. But I mean it: in a world of giant publishers and dodgy practices, here’s this small publisher releasing books into the wild that are glimmering, golden, that give one hope! I love their books, every one. (Especially these ones.)

I have also been writing for some new projects that I cannot wait to share with you when the time is right. Not yet. But soon. Until then, I have some new reviews queued up for next week, and I think they’ll reward you for waiting.

*Avatar = the best show out there. Mitch and I have watched it several times, and we’re just now introducing it to the girls. And the magic just doesn’t wear off: the picture of repentance and grace it portrays! I can’t get enough of it.

The Plot Thickens

Have you ever walked a puppy through your neighborhood? It’s like being pregnant in a grocery store—people who never looked twice at you suddenly stop and make conversation. Neighbors you’ve passed on the sidewalk for years ask, “May I pet him?” and you say yes, of course, because they are already petting him. There are poop bags and chewed shoes and “good grief, what should we do with him now?” but there is also that tractor beam effect on strangers and the perpetual excuse to stop and chat.

After a year and change of the pandemic, I’ll take any excuse to stop and chat.

Because that’s it: that’s why I stopped posting a few weeks ago. We got ourselves a blue heeler puppy and named him Hondo, and while there were other pots on the stove (including but not limited to a sizeable construction project in our yard), that was the one hogging three of the burners. He is delightful and a whole lot of mischievous fun. I’ll be back as soon as I can figure out how to photograph books without his “assistance,” and I’m excited to be back: I have, oh, dozens of books to share with you, all of them delightful.

But since I don’t have a full review for you today, I leave you with some bonus odds and ends:

If you can find yourself a copy of The Battle for Castle Cockatrice, by Gerald Durrell (yes, that Gerald Durrell), grab it! It’s a gem of a book, one that made us all giggle many times as we read. It was one of the best books we’ve read aloud together in a long time.

Hannah Anderson’s Turning of Days is lovely. Just lovely.

I recently read this new edition of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness with a handful of friends, and wow—that’s the way to meet this book for the first time. Karen Swallow Prior’s introduction and guidance through this difficult book was fantastic!

I am a little amazed at how James Herriott’s Treasury for Children continues to enthrall our entire family after over a decade of reading and re-reading his stories. If you’ve never read it, please: do.

“Two Truths & a Lie About Motherhood After the Little Years”

Yesterday morning, our youngest came out of her bedroom looking equal parts thrilled and apprehensive, and announced, “I think I have a loose tooth!”

I felt the tooth. It was so. Now, she’s been sporting a gap-toothed smile for nearly a year already, on account of knocking one of her front teeth loose on a bike handlebar last summer, but this was new. This was a Milestone for all of us.

My youngest child is losing her baby teeth.

And so it seemed apt that Risen Motherhood shared my article “Two Truths & a Lie About Motherhood After the Little Years” this week. What comes next? When her children don’t exactly need her all the time, what’s a mom to do?

I’ve heard moms talk about this moment—this “all the kids finally out of diapers” moment—like it’s a finish line, as though we ran hard and the race is over. High fives all around! I’ve heard rumors about getting my life back, about resuming paused hobbies, about reconnecting with my true self, the one who apparently spent the last decade buried beneath maternity tops and nursing pillows. But I wonder if it isn’t the other way around. I wonder if my true self was not the one showing through in those years of sleep deprivation.

You can read the full article here.

Merry Christmas!

I am so grateful to all of you who read this blog and pray that God would bless your celebrations, whatever they look like this year. We’re celebrating at home (for the first time ever!), with a feast and whole lot of FaceTiming with family.

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement over the past year! I plan to take the next two weeks off but will be back mid-January with my annual “Best Books of the Year” list. And there are some good ones on this time, holy cow.

Merry Christmas to you all!