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. Because 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.