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on perfectionism, vulnerability, and motherhood

On the first day of this year, I woke up long before the sunrise, seized with anxiety. The same thoughts were spinning circles through me again, doubting my abilities as a mother and educator, doubting my work here, doubting whether I'm good…
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for the weekend | favorite books on parenting

Weekends are always the best time for personal reading. On Saturdays, I tend to stay in my PJs longer and often meander back into my bed with coffee and a book, a small gratitude with having older children. A couple of people have recently…
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the slow unfolding work of home and heart

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We moved into our cozy 1920s home two years ago this month, although it hardly feels two years of work have passed. When we purchased the property, the house was neglected and unsavory, stained from leaky faucets and uncleaned dirt. Indoors,…
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our homeschool in pictures | february

“Why else do any of this if not to become who we want to be?” ― Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See __________________________ planting potatoes, the first of our spring garden handmade valentines journaling about expectation; working…
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for the weekend | a family day hike

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Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity. ― John Muir, Our National Parks We live in Central Texas, far from foothills…
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homemade mayonnaise three ways

Although I've mentioned literary influences in the kitchen a few times in this space, I've been most influenced by my younger [and more talented] sister, Kristen. She has a natural intuition about food that I've learned by watching her…

WELCOME

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Cloistered Away is a lifestyle blog, focused on simple, purposeful family living, written by Bethany Douglass.

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After yesterday's tornados and 24 hours of torrential downpours, the kids had so many questions about weather. So today we pulled out the books and paints.
We're watching the rain fall from the roof and gather outside our home. Rain storms always feel so richly spiritual to me, a reminder of presence, of what Hosea wrote about God: "he will come to you like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth." Today, I'm receiving.
It is another grey and rainy May morning here, and we are all beginning to grow stir-crazy from the accumulated weeks of sickness and changing weather. I took Blythe for a breathing treatment yesterday and am hopeful our family will be clearing the clouds and well again soon. On a different note, I'm sharing another post on self-care and nurturing the whole self today, this time on evening rituals and the importance of sleep to our wholeness. The image is of course unrelated—mostly a sweet nod to peonies, my favorite flower. Link in the profile.
This weekend Olive told me, "Mom, my hands are feeling crafty. They are just meant to make things—and I love making people happy by making things for them!" I beamed in the cheesy way moms do when children understand some bit of who they are, and then we baked a new brownie recipe together and shared them with friends.
We are taking care of ordinary tasks today and sampling a simpler summer routine for school work. I've been thinking on these words I read earlier from Laura Ingalls Wilder, "We who live in quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those keeping up with the crowd." I like the idea that the quiet, ordinary work at home invites me into deeper thought and purpose—an encouragement while I fold yet another load of laundry.
Sometimes when the air is sticky and warm, throwing together random chopped veggies in one bowl balances me. The chopped thick-cut bacon is bonus. #thecloisteredtable
We nestled on our friends' back porch last night, sipping drinks, celebrating friendship, and watching the fog slowly roll in. The kids were littered about the grass, playing. These are the days.
Fifteen years ago today we sat at a small table near the sea drinking our first morning coffees together, the words "better or worse" still hanging on our tongues. In fifteen years, we've had to digest them more than once—the best and hardest—and yet together they have worn our souls like leather, wrinkled and soft in just the right spots. I wouldn't swap it for anything. With him, I'm home. #thecloisteredtable
It's a rare rainy and cool May morning here. We're listening to Bon Iver and tidying up random blankets and dishes littered about from sickness. Purification is diffusing the air and later today I plan to fill our vases with flowers—because flowers make all the difference when you're stuck indoors. 🌾
We're in our third week of sickness here, and since being away this weekend, I've noticed each of us feeling a bit lost, fumbling around for familiar rhythm. Last night, I sautéed onions and garlic and cilantro together with bone broth and black beans for soup. The aroma and cadence of the kitchen gently nudged me back into our family rituals, and suddenly today eating leftovers, I find that I'm home. #thecloisteredtable
Sometimes as a mother and homeschooler I can lose perspective and context for the work I do. The rote patterns can feel a bit like walking through clouds, one step in front of the other without clarity of where exactly the steps lead. This weekend, I gathered with 400 other women in southern Cali for the #wildandfreeconf. I shared a bit about our family rhythms and life around the table there and listened to so many encouraging stories from other homes, too—some shared publicly from the stage, others shared in private conversations. I unplugged to be present, to focus clearly and listen. For me, it was a weekend to live just above the clouds for a bit, to remember the power of my place as mother, as educator, as woman. Children are a gift.
Over the last six months the word 'bored' has crept more steadily into my children's vernacular, one of the more frustrating terms for me as a parent. I'm sharing some ways I've learned to listen and re-direct them, to help them recognize boredom not as something to pacify, but rather an invitation to re-creation and ingenuity. #ontheblog