Thursday, December 31, 2015


 (Photo by Jocelyn Cook)
 (Photo by Jocelyn Cook)

Christmas was...

-a new "Christmas Adam" tradition(the day before "Christmas Eve", get it?)with just our family in the Sea Kettle and an intentional quiet end to advent; a homemade candle-lit meal, meaningful letters written and read to us by Papa, hand-painted tea cups for me from Levi, liturgical books and oratory elements for Brian, an adventure pack for Levi and dress up clothes for Maggie
- cinnamon rolls and singing to celebrate Jesus' birthday on Christmas Eve morning and a candle-lit service with our church family
- A comfort food "Hygge" dinner at my Mom's house with a last minute guest who was missing her family in Pakistan. Gifting some Hygge kits (more on that later!) and our traditional all-family sleepover
- Christmas morning excitement with my family and stockings, presents and excited, well-loved kids
- Christmas lunch and gift exchange with Brian's family and a christmas movie to end the day 
- a bittersweet first Christmas without my father; in-between the good food, family, thoughtful presents, happy children, more than ever before I felt the tangible need for Emmanuel, God with us. Which is hard but okay, really, because that is what it's all about.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

20 years from now

I recently read the book, "Teaching From Rest: The Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakeable Peace" by Sarah MacKenzie and it was wonderful. I am so thankful to have found it right at the beginning of our homeschool journey. It held such good insight, wisdom and practical tips to keep anxiety and unrest at bay. 

One of the simple challenges the author gave was to imagine our children, 20 years from now, being asked about what it was like to be homeschooled.  Next, she asked us to write down the words or phrases that we hoped our children would use to describe their childhood. It didn't take me long to come up with my words: warm, conversational, full of stories and laughter, peace-full, beauty-full, wonder-full, and characterized by grace. 

Brian and I can't control how our kids turn out- what their SAT scores will be, what college they will get into, what job they'll choose, what good/bad choices they will make... but one thing we CAN do is to pray for them daily and create a family environment that encourages goodness, truth, beauty and grace. 

For the foreseeable future, my short list of words will serve as simple reminders to direct how I interact with my kids; how I speak to them, what we'll study, what activities we engage in, how I set up my home, what books we read and how I love and serve my kids day in and day out. Thinking about my parenting/education goals this way has been much more inspiring and positive than giving in to anxieties that can sometimes take over my thoughts and motivations.

I created this image to place at the beginning of my homeschool binder and to hang in my kitchen as a constant reminder of the type of childhood and education I want to give the precious people God placed in my care. This simple exercise made a huge difference in my approach to schooling and parenting this year and I pray our home environment will live up to these chosen ideals. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

these days

These days, I'm ....

- thankful for slower days, the natural cloistering in of winter
- lighting candles, wearing slippers, sipping tea, cuddling under quilts with my family - making the most of the cold weather settling in
- playing my favorite advent albums on repeat: "Prepare Him Room" by Sovereign Grace Music, "Behold the Lamb of God" by Andrew Peterson, "Sounding Joy", by Elizabeth Mitchell, Handel's "Messiah" and the local Christmas radio station thrown in for good measure.
- savoring our daily homeschool morning times, particularly hearing my children happily memorize true and beautiful things
- working on some fun wintery lessons with my students before classes end for winter break
- treasuring Levi's funny, curious, insightful and interesting thoughts 
- listening to Magnolia start to assert herself and communicate her wants, needs, jokes and sweet little sayings. 
- excited about plenty of Christmas festivities planned in the coming days
- painting a commission for a friend and hoping I can finish in time for it to be wrapped up for Christmas
- trying to have "tea" time with the kids as regularly as possible while reading through our current pile of advent/Christmas stories from the library.
- smiling at Brian, as we watch our kids play, talk with and love each other well(most of the time, that is) ;)
- full of excitement in my research and reading of homeschool methods and philosophies; folding laundry and doing dishes to the tune of some amazing, inspirational podcasts
- missing my Dad, at expected and unexpected times and places
- finishing a purposefully slow read through "For the Children's Sake" by MacCaulay and soaking in every word.
- saying some "no's" so that I can say more "yes's" (not easy for me)
- almost done putting together Christmas presents for our family; a little less crafting than usual, but a very fun concept for Brian and I to work on together
- enjoying advent in a more peaceful and purposeful way than ever before

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What's in our Morning Basket: December/Advent Term

(Note: I wrote an introduction and explanation of our Autumn Term morning basket HERE.)

Morning Basket: Advent Term

1. Gather the Jesse Tree ornament, treats and activity from the advent calendar.

2. Read the activity for the day and plan when we will do it (is it something we'll wait to do with Dad? Do we need to get anything for it?)

3. Light a candle ("The Lord is my light and my salvation") and read the day's selection from the Jesse Tree devotional "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" by Ann Voskamp.

4. Prayer: Write down what we are thankful for and prayer requests, then pray for them. 

5. Memory Work: 
-Luke 2:8-12 
-Part of a poem by Christina Rossetti: "What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb, If I were a wisemen I would do my part- Yet what can I give Him, Give Him my heart."
-This month's motto/habit training: "No fussing, no whining, no complaining, respond with gratitude!" 

6. Hymn: Joy to the World!

7. Picture Study/Art History: Rembrant's "The Adoration of the Shepherds" (see below)

8. Benediction: Sing Doxology

9. Read alouds (to be read aloud throughout December):
A Christmas Treasury Illustrated by Christian Birmingham 
The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
The Birds of Bethlehem by Tomie dePaola
The Christmas Pageant by Tomie dePaola
An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola
Merry Christmas Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
The Story of the Three Wise Kings by Tomie dePaola
Little Tree by e.e. cummings
Erik and the Christmas Horse by Hans Peterson
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
The Christmas Story by Carol Heyer

 Studio of Rembrandt ‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’ 1646