We’ve been renovating the three bathrooms here, at one point leaving the 10 (9 potty-trained) inhabitants here with one shared bathroom to use — yikes! That situation has now been resolved and we’re now only waiting to paint the walls and replace the fixtures. I’m sure I’ll share pictures of these spaces at some point when we’re no longer cluttered with lingering boxes and objects. For now, here’s the inspiration board I put together for these spaces: muted, minimal whites inspired by natural stones and sand — just the sort of space to silence the noise and dirt of the day.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we sold our home. What I didn’t mention is we are moving in with my sister (Kristen), brother-in-law (Tim), and their two children, Shepherd and Brighten. Let’s refer to it as a cohabitation experiment. In the past, we’ve had young singles live with us, but this will be a first for combining entire families. Stick around — things may get really interesting here. (Wink.)
To prepare for the move, the four adults have been busy rearranging, tearing out, building, and preparing spaces. Currently, Kristen and I are recreating what will be the play + school room for our combined six children. We began this last week with a fresh coat of white paint and a chalkboard wall. Here’s a few things inspiring our design. Happy Monday!
I know. I know. It was all going so well here this spring, writing each week, weaving tales and posting pictures about our life. And then, BAM, nothing. For too long. I promise I will be coming back in a more consistent way again soon. For the last month, we’ve been completing a few [time-consuming] transitions: painting walls, restoring vintage chairs (more Mark on that one), shifting rooms around to have a new housemate (which meant dissolving and reimagining our school space– see the disaster in the top left), and of course, all the lesson planning for our school year. Shwew! I’ll be sharing more about our own homeschool planning process soon. For now, you can follow our day-to-day on Instagram : @cloisteredaway (quickly becoming my micro-blog).
Olive’s crying right now. For the second time, I’ve returned her to her bed for rest, a quiet both of us need. I’ve seen this phase out of daytime sleep on the horizon for a while; she is three after all. Although the boys had long given up naps at her age, they quickly adapted to quieting themselves during rest time, happy to spend 1-2 hours in their beds studying the images in books they couldn’t yet read and wielding their own tales through pictures. Blythe took a little longer, but now also has learned to enjoy this peaceful part of our early to mid-afternoon. Olive, my busy toddler (is that even an adequate description?) has been harder, naturally. At this point, I can tell this “rest” feels withholding and prohibitive to her; I offer her reassurance of our need of rest and solicit her trust. Although my words often fall dead, she usually concedes, slowing down enough to either fall asleep or find her slower rhythm. We’re working on it.
When the older kids were younger (toddlers and preschoolers) it was easy to prioritize this restorative part of the day; plus we always had a baby around forcing us to slow down for naps. But as they’ve gotten older and days and school-work seem more demanding, I’ve noticed myself letting this quiet slip away, burned up in the bright, needy day. Of course the five of us spend a lot of time together and for the most part enjoy our together-ness, but we require rest from each other, space for ourselves individually, to go inside ourselves without having to answer to the other or worry about sharing space or things. Ok. My kids would never articulate this, but I notice on days we don’t separate, more bickering and whining ensues, and I’m more irritable too. Honestly, as much as I want for my children to understand words, numbers, and various forms of beauty and nature, I want them to learn to enter quiet, to practice muffling the noise — people, work, media– demanding us. To hear themselves. To hear God. What does this look like? For our family right now, it means at least an hour a day: 30 minutes of reading quietly, 30 minutes of quiet activity (Legos, painting, drawing, puzzles, writing, being outdoors, etc.). The only guidelines: you cannot interrupt another. To some of you this may seem ridiculous or strict, but the goal is to teach them the value of quiet, something I’m still learning myself, to give space to the thoughts, creations, sounds often lost to day. And so I also practice quieting my soul right alongside them, leaving my TO DOs (and various medias) in order to find rest.
How do you and/or your family find quiet and rest?
As we’re now rolling into the end of February, I’m wishing more than ever that I could channel superpower to freeze time. I suppose that’s the privilege you earn for having to relate to your alien father through a crystal on your nightstand. For me, these last days of pregnancy have been characterized less by my erratic emotions (although I’m sure they still occur) and more by my now marshmallow-man-shaped body waddling our creaky wood floors like a crazed woman binging on cleaning and organizational sprees. I think “they” refer to this as nesting. So, since I don’t have powers to the likings of Evie or Mary Poppins, my time for writing as of late (in case you hadn’t noticed) has devolved into mere moments of reflection caught during one of my five to six nighttime potty breaks or while cleaning cabinets, alphabetizing CDs, organizing closets, . . . etc., without one word transferred to paper or screen. Alas — something has got to give. For the time, anyway, everyone and most everything has a place in our home, including our soon-to-arrive Olive. Below I included a few pictures that some of you have requested of two of the more fun-to-see aforementioned projects, Olive’s room and Blythe’s new big-girl room, which also happens to be the guest room if any of you fancy a sleep-over. (Don’t worry — we’ll temporarily move Blythe and her hobbit-sized bed out for the stay.)