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  You must do the things you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt olive | You feel things deeply, and for being still so small, you often express yourself with equal emotion and zeal. Don't ever wish it away or believe that…

fighting the lull

Around this point in every semester, my children and I tend to hit a lull in our learning together. The enthusiasm of fresh beginnings is waning and other areas of life begin to crowd in, diverting attention and easily sliding us out of…

recent work

Although it can be challenging to find the time, I really enjoy sharing bits of our homeschooling journey with others here and elsewhere to help encourage and inspire them on their own path. I recently wrote a bit about how we memorize poetry…

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You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.  –Matthew 5:14, The Message  olive | You've lost so many teeth the last few months, leaving large gaps in your bright smile. Sometimes when you first wake up and your…

LIFE RE-FOCUSED | an online workshop

I'm quite thrilled to announce I will be hosting a live online workshop, LIFE RE-FOCUSED, next month in partnership with Modern Thrive! A couple of years ago, I read these words from Ann Voskamp, "Simplicity is ultimately a matter of…

on keeping the family home tidy

Perhaps most parents want to know the secret behind keeping tidy homes and teaching children to clean up after themselves. It feels nearly impossible at times, doesn't it? Abandoned blocks on the rug, a random sock on the sofa, books on…



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


When we first began #homeschooling, I regularly tried to project how it would look if we continued. How could a variety of ages and needs be met at the same time? Years later, I still don't have a specific answer. Some days it works like clockwork, and other days seem to crash on us. What I do know is the crashing days happen less as they grow older, so mamas with littles: be encouraged. 
For the moment, one is sketching and labeling the human digestive system. One is illustrating and writing the life cycle of a frog. One is diagramming a sentence from her Oz book. And the youngest is copying and illustrating a sentence from her read-a-loud. I'm going to tiptoe to the other room and try not to jinx it. #cloisteredaway_homeschooling
Keeping a home is hard work, especially when we are busy living in it all the time. My children sigh at these jobs just as much as the next, but I hope in all of their little household tasks they are building a lifelong habit—not of keeping a perfect home, but one in how to take care. We're all a work in progress over here. 😉
Every Sunday morning, I find a quiet spot to think about and plan the upcoming week: what activities we have scheduled, what books we'll read, what writing or art projects might match up, what I want to write about, and so on. I know this sort of time makes some people yawn with boredom, but it helps give me a clearer mind and focus in the busyness of our days. Add warm morning light, hot coffee, and fresh blueberry scones with lemon curd, and this time become a personal retreat. #itsthelittlethings
I've recently realized how much I want the best of every season of life at once: the wisdom of my eighty year old self; the body of my twenty year old self; the whimsy of youth; the grounded-ness of maturity; the simple routines of early motherhood; the quiet independence of later motherhood. The reality is I was never intended to have it all at once. Each season expectantly folds into another. Each one offers a different joy and surprise. The best thing I can do is pause for a moment and give thanks right where I am. Even when that place is a mess. 
Take a deep breath. Do you feel your chest patiently rise and fall? Today you are alive. Gratitude is that simple.
I woke up the kids this morning, and Burke greeted me, "it's hump day!" Haha! We're downhill to the weekend, friends. 🙌  I shared some ideas on le blog for a special Valentine's date night at home because they're truly my favorite kind of date and also a good excuse to eat Spiced Pinot Noir + Goat Cheese turnovers. That's right. Yum. More via the link. And happy humpday! #hatcherymade #thecloisteredtable
Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell others. —Mary Oliver 
I'm reviving an old project on the blog, after finding it buried in my archives. Although the old pictures were somewhat crummy in quality back then, I realized how much I treasured them anyway. They were a gentle reminder of how much growth and change has occurred in all of us on this meandering path of home and education. All to say you can find the January edition of our homeschool in pictures (and books) via the link. Also I hope you all are enjoying some of this delicious winter weather.
The other day, while we were walking, she came beside me and held my hand. After a short while she said, "Mom, I really love you and I hope one day I'm just like you." And then she started talking about something else and ran off, just as if we were talking about the weather. All the while my heart was bursting, and I whispered back, "dearest one, you will be even better." Because it's true. As parents, somewhere deep within us, we know our job is to build foundations for our children to stand on, and eventually, when they are ready, they will grow far beyond our own capacity, far beyond what we can imagine for them. So it is with you, my little songbird.
Sometimes spelling is best practiced on the wall, especially for those with the wiggles. 😉
The kids are bathing now, washing all the day's dirt and outdoor play from their skin. I spent the afternoon in the kitchen testing out a few new recipes and flavors. It's a rare day when I have the kitchen all to myself, without a sidekick or the need to offer instructions. I forget the therapy of working on my own with food—the music, the comforting smells, and my own thoughts. One of the most surprising bits of motherhood was realizing how much time I spend talking with someone else. As an introvert, it's nice when my mouth and ears can rest, when my thoughts can simply follow my hands or float elsewhere altogether.
Some days, I'm overwhelmed by the goodness of being their mother. For all of the time I spend worrying about screwing up as a parent, there's a million redeeming things to say about simply enjoying them right where they are. Children are a gift. And so was today.
Friday always welcomes me with high-fives and hugs, even when all I have left is a heavy sigh in return. The weekend is so good and so is this seasonal cocktail. Recipe is on the blog, if you're interested. And happy weekend, friends! xx #thecloisteredtable
I really love our trees, but I also love how much light comes into our home during the months they are bare. On a different note, we clearly have a book problem in our home and a cleaning day ahead of us—because it's FRIDAY!