Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Life together.

Homeschooling presents the challenge and joy of the kids having an enormous amount of time together as siblings. It presents the challenges of kids needing space from each other and having a hard time getting it, of a mama juggling school age needs and preschool age and below needs simultaneously, nearly all of the time. It is, without a doubt, challenging. However, there is a joy side to it that just can't be ignored and is, in fact, one of my very favorite aspects of the homeschool life. 

As I write this, Sam has created a space in his room for he and Amelia and Jubilee to use during rest time today. He has books and bean bags in one area for reading, a "craft section" with a box of craft supplies in another section, and a basket of stuffed animals waiting to be played with in another "section". All on his own he did this and then went to the girls room and invited them to come and they giggled with delight. I mean, thrill my heart! 

All of this time together and margins in our days means that the relationships between them that are naturally easy, become even closer. And the relationships that do not come easy (there is one dynamic so far that has been hard from the get go) have the time to work things out, find ways that make the interaction smoother, learn to have more grace with each other. Each true kindness that I see from that big brother to his little sister (and they are happening more and more) warms my heart in a big way. It's progress of the very best kind. 

So, as I sit here listening to the quiet buzz in Sam's room, my heart is one of thankfulness. This road is not always easy or harmonious, but watching these relationships grow and deepen is a real privilege, and one I pray for wisdom and patience as I help them navigate what it means to live life together. 

All for now, Jen

Saturday, April 18, 2015

To our Amelia, on your 8th birthday!

Dear Amelia (Mena, Moozer, Mimi, Yaya),

Happy Birthday, you sweet thing! Living life with you is such a joy, and at *8* these are the things that make you so...YOU!

* You love and are energized by PEOPLE! When they wrote the description of extrovert, I think they were looking at a picture of you:) Per usual, you have quickly made friends here and relish in the new and exciting experiences that come with moving. Your love runs wide, Amelia Hunt. 

* You are into cartwheels, dragons and all things mythical, drawing, crafting ( hand sewing with help, but otherwise creating things out of boxes, yarn, etc.), reading picture books to Jubilee (Bill Peet and Dr. Suess are current favorites), and riding your bike! You still love to play stuffed animals with Sam, mostly sock monkeys, and to play outside with dinos, swinging, finding bugs, etc.

* You are so open, loving, affectionate, honest, brave, messy and fun. I love your spirit and look so forward to watching where your creativity and love of life and people takes you! 

We love you Amelia, more than words can say!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

To our Sammy, on your 8th birthday.

Dear Sam (Sammy Sam, Sambo, Sammers, Bub, Bubs),

 Happy Birthday sweet boy. Eight years old... I just can't believe it! But then, you do seem very *8* lately.  Hopefully when you are older and reading this it will help you remember what you were like at this super fun age...

 * You have always loved, and still very much do, all things nature. Just today you said, "Mom, we're having so much fun outside. And if we're having fun outside, that means I'm a happy kid!" You are loving our big yard to explore in and all of the turtles, caterpillars, June bugs, rolly pollies, squirrels, birds, and even an opossum you have gotten to see here! 

* You are a reading machine! Your current favorites are the Who Is/ Who Was series, the I Survived series, Hardy Boys, Beverly Cleary books, and non fiction books about nature, history, animals, or people. The library is a favorite spot. 

* You love sports! Currently your top love is cross country, then soccer, then basketball. We love to watch you play, Sam, soooo much. You give 100 % every practice and meet/game and it makes us so very proud! 

* You are so loyal, kind, and thoughtful... loving so deeply those who you let in. I feel so lucky to be your confidant these days...I will always treasure hearing you say, "Mom, can you come talk for a few minutes?" Oh yes, yes I can sweet boy. If I could capture your trust and desire to "tell all" to mama, oh I would!! 

I think this is going to be such a fabulous year, Sam. I can't wait to live it along side of you!! 
All my love,

Oh, and P.S. You LOVE Newsies right now. And, I mean, come on! How cute are you in your new Newsies outfit? We are going to see the Broadway Newsies show in a few weeks--yippie! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Quite a bash was number *8* !

It was a marathon day that started with a sweet cousin gift opening time, then a family cheering section at Sam's first soccer game of the season, then big kid time with Auntie Shanyn and Uncle Tim at the nature center while the rest of us zoomed around getting ready for the party! It was a sock monkey theme, lots of family and new friends (I took no pictures of the grown ups- boo!), outdoor games and fun had by all. Then we had hot dog roasting with the fam, and all fell into bed. Thankful for such wonderful family, friends and neighbors to celebrate with and for all of their help with the party!  I am one mama who readily admits that it takes a village to throw a birthday party...at least when I'm in charge of it:) Sure missed all of the fam who couldn't be here and our dear SLC friends. Happy Birthday to our amazing, sweet, fun Sam and Amelia!!

Birthday letters to follow!! Jen

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Comparison. It seriously steals the joy.

Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." 
And just think, he didn't have blogs, or Facebook, or Instagram to contend with! I mean, whatever you are into, you can find thousands of pictures of people who seemingly are doing life in the way you long to. For me, it's usually pictures of Waldorf or Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, or homesteads, or mamas with many children who not only dress themselves in a hip way, but ALL of their children, or mamas writing/speaking/ inspiring AND loving their families well. Of course, we know in our heads that NO one has it all together, and there is pain found in every human story...but slowly the discontent slips in, the feeling that somehow we are not enough. That, my friend, is when you need a break from social media (for me, FB and IG). It's why I am currently on a fast from both. It's not my friends who make me feel this way-- friends I lived or have lived life with, anyway. Because I know their stories and realities and have rejoiced with them and grieved with them. It's the women who I have never met or don't know their every day, whose life snapshots are inspiring and yet so distracting. Because it takes my focus off of my real life, those who are all around me, ready to be loved and to love me. 

Today, I just had this overwhelming feeling of contentment that kept washing over me. On the country roads driving home from a farm store we visited. Listening to the kids chatter in the van. Looking up at the stars as we unloaded flowers to plant tonight.  Finishing a read aloud that affected all of us deeply. Delighting in teeny little toes sticking out of the bubble bath water. I think those feelings of contentment popping up and sweeping over me more often, are a direct result of me being more present in my owl reality. There is beauty all around. I mean right this second. I'm afraid we are missing it, this generation of ours.Our necks are strained from looking down at our phones, from looking at the beauty in the lives of others instead of the beauty in our own.

I don't like to be bossy, but if your heart aches when you look at social media, would you consider joining me? Like a wise friend told me, it doesn't have to be forever. But there is so much life to be truly lived, that it might just need to be for me.
May our hearts be ever growing in gratitude, and not aching with discontent, 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The sweetest moments...

Such a fun weekend with my big brother, Robin and Lucy here with us! There was a crazy Easter egg hunt with eggs being dropped from a helicopter(!) at the church down the road, books read, a hunt for their baskets this morning, church where we were welcomed by new and old friends, Easter lunch and dinner hosted by our gracious neighbors, and lots of play!! Oh, and I finally made hot cross buns on Good Friday!
But, even with all the fun of having them here with us on a holiday, the sweetest moments for me are these...the ones where I just catch our littles living life with their Auntie and Uncle and cousin.
Jubilee, tired after a big day with only a little nap, needing a little love.
And Ollie, loving to watch his Auntie Robin spin a wooden top on the kitchen floor.
Thank you guys for loving our family so well! What a gift spending time with our family is. Mwah!