2015 | week 46 + 47

Olive | You are always moving. Bouncing. Running. Talking. Slowly your words are catching up to your deep sense of emotion. You told me this week, "Blythe is really distressing me! Look [pointing to a stool in the play tent]! Is this where…

a typical Sunday morning

I took these images a few weeks ago on a typical Sunday morning at home: the kids piled in my bed playing; my planner and hot coffee in hand; the smell of fresh fruit pancakes wafting through the air. Although this room belongs primarily…

45 | 52

Most of this week you spent time in your friends' homes while Dad and I traveled to Boston for a few days. You each were ecstatic and gladly kissed us and waved goodbye. Although I think any of you would have been happy to travel to Boston…

on pocket money and allowance

Everyone likes having a little cash in their pocket, even if it's not much. There's a freedom of choice attached to pocket money, a subconscious autonomy in how we spend, save, or share it. My husband and I both have an allotted bits of…

week 44 | the Halloween edition

Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker. – Linus,  It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown This year, we wandered the one usual neighborhood street with the cousins, mingling with neighbors, enjoying the mild weather. It reminded…

making simple costumes

My children have actually made their own Halloween costumes every year. Although this sounds noble and intentional, it actually began more for economic reasons. I just couldn't imagine spending their clothing budget on cheaply made costumes,…



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


We're planning to re-design the  kids' rooms this summer in effort to give each a little more privacy within their shared spaces. I've been scouring the online classifieds looking for old bed frames and am completely inspired by the layered linens in the latest #schoolhouseelectric catalogue. Each of them have unanimously requested shelves and light near their beds for books and bedtime reading, and as Olive is showing me, she would like a tiny lamp just like this. 👆🏻 The projects never end, but I love that they're old enough to now contribute to the conversation, to help make their spaces their own. #thecloisteredtable
A storm's been stirring in my heart the last few days, kicking up the same old anxious thoughts and doubt. Sigh. We mothers can be the hardest on ourselves, demanding much of our minds, souls, and bodies in the process. 2016 is teaching me to be gentler with myself, to offer grace and generous words to myself, just as I would to a friend. Today in lieu of our typical afternoon routine here, I turned on a film for the kids and set about putting away winter sweaters and laundering summer dresses and delicates. It's strange but there's something so soothing for the soul about working with my hands, about the gentle and rote rhythm of folding. I opened the windows and turned on some music and let my soul breathe. Sometimes taking care of the home overlaps with taking care of the self.
I always find Olive walking in the garden, sampling leaves and making salads. Perhaps one day, years from now, I'll be visiting her own home, watching her snip leaves from her garden for dinner. I will remember this.
He spent most of today sanding the front porch (which we plan to stain afterward). This old house is definitely a work of patience, and I'm so grateful for his persistence. We'll get to landscaping at some point. 😉 #theslowrenovation
Toward the end of our date night last night, enjoying drinks together in the backyard. I love the smile lines we're growing in life together.
Trying hard to tidy up our eating a bit again and made raw brownies with berries for dessert instead of our usual cake. If you haven't made them before, they're easy, quick, and  delightful when warmed a bit. 
Raw Brownies
Mix 1.5 c of walnuts and a pinch of salt in a food processor until the nuts are fine. Add 1 cup of pitted medjool dates, 1/3 c of cocoa powder, and a splash of real vanilla extract. Process until well blended. Roll into balls or scoop straight into a bowl. Top with shredded, unsweetened coconut and fresh berries. Happy weekend! #thecloisteredtable
The windows are open, and the day is clear and full of song. It feels a bit miraculous after days of rainy mornings. #tgif
These are the days. I'm just so grateful.
I remember quite young learning how not to ask questions in the classroom for fear of being teased or looking stupid. It doesn't really matter how much teachers encourage teens to ask questions, peer responses are powerfully influential. Part of that is my temperament and my longing to be a top-performer, something I'm maturing in as an adult. I honestly didn't ever think I would homeschool but here we are, ending year seven or eight. I can't remember now. Aside from spending more time with my children in these little years, I love that homeschooling has created a safe place for questions. They are learning intuitively to see questions as a tool for growth and for invention. 
Today Burke and Blythe are beginning studies on Galileo. He was regarded as a troublemaker because he questioned the ideas of the ancient Greeks, and eventually wrote this, "I do not believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect had intended us not to use them." ❤️ #cloisteredaway_homeschooling
A muddled, rainy morning. 📚🐛
A very tiny Olive and a very large tree, a Tuesday morning adventure with her cousins and aunt Kristen. 📷: @kristendouglass #wildexplorersclub
It rained most of the morning and the girls played outside in it while I finished work with the each of the boys. They even discovered a bird's nest in one of their rain boots outside on the stoop. Now the rain has stopped and the boys are taking a break to play while Blythe reads The Secret Garden independently and Olive and I sit down to read about birds. I like how home life reflects the seasons, the rhythms cycling in energy just like the weather. #cloisteredaway_homeschooling