366 :: The Last Photo of the Year

Can this be the last photo of 2016?

But wait! I’m not feeling ready to stop this daily photography practice. I have been so encouraged Jenny Stein’s 365 group on flickr, as well as my readers here on the blog — and I’ve learned so much about photography this year. Sharing photos and words most every day has nourished my inner life during this full season of mothering and homeschooling, and I want to keep the momentum going. I haven’t yet settled on a project for 2017, but I’m certainly going to continue in some fashion.

Tell me, what personal creative projects have you committed to for the new year? I’d love to hear your project ideas (photography as well as other pursuits). Thank you so much for your encouragement, family and friends — near and far! And Happy New Year!

Revisions

283_autumn_wreaths

It is Sunday, October 9. We are clustered on the top bunk, looking at our weekly schedule.

We’re five weeks into our school year and it’s time to make some revisions. Amabel says we haven’t spent enough time reading and writing. Are we doing enough math? Why do we spend so much time on history? And what about those science experiments we’ve been talking about? Where will we fit them in?

Amabel is my best critic. Having spent two years in public school learning with a wonderful teacher who held high expectations, she is pretty serious about her learning.

I actually have to remind her, and myself, that lots of “other” things count as learning even if they don’t look like “school.”

dollhouse-garden

flower-bowl-2

hot-peppers

mess

wordsmith

notes

coloring

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281_butter_and_eggs

244 :: At Home, Together

244_Picking_Flowers

We’ve decided to homeschool again this year. (We homeschooled for three years when the girls were younger, and they’ve been in public school for the past two years.) I can barely contain my excitement! Seriously, I have to keep pinching myself.

But I have moments when doubts creep in. There are things school can provide that we cannot. The teachers are so experienced and the children have a whole community surrounding them at school. Our girls have gained confidence at school simply by learning within a bigger group. Will we be “holding them back” by keeping them home?

We have plans, of course, for choir and piano lessons, nature school, friends, extended family, and homeschool groups. So, that is one sort of answer. And when I have doubts, it helps to remind myself of our plans.

But, there is a bigger reason for our homeschool decision. There are things that we can provide that school cannot: family closeness, days outside in wild places, hours reading aloud together, and the space to pursue creative projects. And let us not forget this baby here. We have him. We have this moment in time, this chapter of life, to be together. Our girls have years and years to be in school. But this little boy will grow up and won’t be happy to bounce along on his sister’s back for much longer. So for now we’re at home, together. And I am so grateful.

244_Helping_Sister

244_Riding_Along

174 :: Thresholds

174_Belonging

On the beach tonight, I am watching them.
All four of them in their own worlds — coming together to show a rock, ask a question.
Then parting ways again, each beckoned back into the stillness
and constant motion of the lake.

Everything gets washed away here.
Petoskey stones scattered on the shoreline last summer —
are now under water.
The coral pattern makes them easier to spot when wet.

Thresholds.
Who is it that speaks so eloquently about thresholds?
David Whyte?
A threshold is a place where we stop the conversation
and become something new.

Maybe this is why we are so drawn to the beach?

When we need to step over a threshold:
that edge —
that becoming something new — we come to the big lake.
Here we can look out into the future,
and feel ourselves willing to be changed by it.
Willing to enter into the unknown blue.

174_Toes_in_the_Lake

174_Sand_Castle

174_Together

174_Mama_Love

148 :: Morning in the Greenhouse

148_Morning_Greenhouse

It’s time to transplant the seed babies outside into the garden.  They are not really babies anymore.  At first they grew slowly.  And then, overnight it seemed, they shot up and now we have sunflowers and cucumbers, kale and tomatoes — bursting out of soil blocks.  Our plants need more space to extend their roots.  But I almost don’t want to move them outside because I like hanging out with my babies in the thick greenhouse air.  I love the watering and nurturing.  Watching them grow.

This reminds me of sending my children to school.  I like to be close to them.  I like to hear their voices and watch them explore and create.  I like to nourish them.  I know it is exciting to go out into the wide world and test one’s wings.  But for how long is it healthy to stay together wrapped in the warmth and protection of the greenhouse?

140 :: 365

140_newt_family

The Newt Family celebrated their anniversary with a beef dinner.  The baby’s name is Albert.  Mrs. Newt has a blue purse.  Mr. Newt has a blue tie.

Ellen needs to get lost in her world of play every single day.  Play is nourishment for her.  Amabel too; but Ellen especially.  This is one of the biggest reasons why I still struggle to feel good about sending my girls to school.  More school = less play.

I’m constantly meditating on the balance.

140_newt_family_dinner

132 :: 365

132_laundry

I’m folding laundry and listening to these words spoken by John O’Donohue —

“I think one of the major mistakes we make with time is that we equate it with space — when in actual fact, time is unshaped.  Expectation creates the future.  The imagination that you bring to the dawn will surprise you and bless you with new things.  And sometimes the actual depth of your approach to a thing will be what coaxes the thing to honor that depth and yield more to you.”   (This is from another On Being interview.)

Recently I had a conversation with a friend in which we talked about expectation and imagination — particularly the role of imagination in relationships.  We talked about how sometimes we rely on our imagination to carry us through as we shape a new space or understanding.  With a child.  With a sibling.  With a friend.  Imagination can be a powerful force for beauty and change.

122 :: 365 — Holding the Space

122_jammies_outside

Picking dutch man’s britches in the evening light — wearing her boots, her jammies, and “mama’s cloak.”

Why does she call it a cloak?  I love that she calls it a cloak.

I find myself taking an extra lot of photos of her lately.  Is it my way of meditating on her?  She seems to be wanting something more from me.  Always wanting.  Wanting.

I am trying to hold the space.

Letting her want.

Wanting to give.  But not always to give what she wants.