There is an ancient story in the New Testament where Jesus takes two fish and five loaves and feeds thousands. I find parenting to be that sort of miracle, whereby we offer what little we have and watch God multiply it again and again. While certain family rhythms and routines have remained constant here this Fall, homeschooling and family living seem uncharted again. The pace of living has quickened and become more individualized. The conversations are deeper and sometimes more vulnerable. Although the hours in a day are the same as ever, they feel shorter somehow at the moment, more precious. Perhaps it is all the talk about changing bodies and SATs and adulthood, but I find myself whispering the words of the Psalmist with fresh humility, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

The short answer to those wondering where I have been the last few months is this: life requires pivots. This new stage of parenting and writing required fresh vision, and although it is business-sabbotauge to be silent for four months, seeing what our home needs and how to best lead our children as young adults meant temporarily putting aside writing here or in the social medias attached to it; it meant saying no to brand partnerships and a few other wonderful opportunities the last few months; it meant reading more books, studying the Scriptures, writing with pen and paper. Instead of trying to compare or cling to our homeschool rhythms and lifestyle in the years passed, I have been watching and listening and praying for wisdom in our small everyday happenings, curious about what our home needs right now.

We are a household coming of age–my children in one way and myself in another. The transformation is palpable, their bodies and minds and relational dynamics stretching into new places. My own growth is less noticeable than theirs, inward and more abstract, but I sense a new person forming, softer and stronger, better anchored in life’s currents.

In more practical homeschool notes, last Fall, we continued with the Classical Conversations curriculum as a guide in our home. While it’s not a perfect fit for us in all ways–which curriculum is?–it suits our home’s needs right now. We did make intentional shifts to create more room for peer-based learning, like opening our home table for study sessions with friends or weekly study groups at a local coffee shop. We added a weekly a la carte Chemistry or Algebra class for the older ones to give them a different classroom experience from their familiar CC Challenge classrooms and for added support. We still prioritze a simple, unhurried family routine, although admittedly, it’s far more challenging as the kids grow older. There are a few weekly lessons for piano, cermics, and basketball, but otherwise, we keep our extras fairly slim and simple. We visited an educational farm to learn about beekeeping and sustainable farming practices. We also took a trip to NASA in Houston to complement Olive and Blythe’s Astromony studies this fall. In the event you are curious about some of what each of the children’s learning has looked like the last few months, here are a few highlights––

For Olive, still in the late years of childhood, I am more intentionally digging in with her, tutoring her Classical Conversations class, allowing more unstructured time for play, giving her more time for independent making and project-style learning rather than limiting her routine to book work (which is tiresome for her dyslexic mind and kinesthetic learning style). She is doing far less copywork and dication than her siblings did at her age, but she is memorizing, writing and illustrating stories, recording heaps of personal voice memos, listening to audiobooks, and is often busy making something.

Blythe turned 13 this fall and is taking more leadership in her own studies and interests this year. Like Burke, she enjoys organizing her time and working independently toward her goals, and I am learning ways to support her through coversations and feedback rather than working through all the details with her. Logic and Latin lessons in Challenge B will grow more complex for her in the Spring, so Mark and I will intentionally work with her as much as possible in those areas. She is also taking an Algebra class through a local a la carte homeschool program, which has been helpful for consitency on my part (wink). Otherwise, she enjoys working through her academic work early and quickly each day so that she has more time for reading, writing letters to friends, illustrating, and a newer interest in ceramics (one of her creations pictured above). Blythe easily reads 2-3 books a week, and several of you have asked if and how I moderate her reading list. Since she is learning to read and write critically through her Challege B course, I allow her to read to her own whim in her free time. I use Common Sense Media to preview the ratings and content of what she chooses and try to intentionally ask her more about the ones she seems to love the most.

Burke, age 14, began high school courses with Challenge 1 curriculum this year, and he is thriving! I love seeing his creative and analytical mind come to life, but I’m also so grateful for a weekly seminar with peers where he is learning stronger interpersonal skills, how to listen to others and love them well. This semester he memorized several portions of important American Documents, researched and prepared for his first team policy debate about the death penalty, read several American novels and is learning to think and write more critically about them. He also loves the independence in his academic work to organize his time each week and work at his own pace. Burke has an affection for comedy and wit, and naturally studies the art of language and delivery, whether in writing or speech. He also still loves to illustrate and is learning how to transform his illustrations digitally, which is pretty fun to see!

Liam turned 16 this fall, learned to drive, took his first SAT, and successfully completed (and enjoyed!) his first two dual-credit university courses in Philosophy and History. Do you feel the increased pace? Wink. To help support him more in his interest to apply to universities next summer, he also enrolled in a local Chemistry class and has had a weekly tutor in PreCalculus. This year, he is reading five of Shakespeare’s plays and some of Caesar’s orginal works in Latin. He is memorizing 30 lines from each play and reciting them with dramatic intepretation. As someone who does not particularly love performance arts, this has been stretching for him, but his playfulness with the project has been so fun to see. He also has a kindred group of friends in the throes with him, making all the difference. He and Burke also wrapped up the third seasonal year of their lawn business, and Liam is currently exploring other creative entreprenurnial projects/interests.

As we begin our Spring term here this week, time feels energetic, hopeful, and unknown. We are scripting plans into the calendar, blocking dates or counting days until birthdays or other expectanct happenings. In my heart, they are numbered differently altogether, not by an accumulation of events or happenings or things, but the accumulation of days by which each of us under this roof unfolds and becomes.

“Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.” ––John Ortberg

Sometimes I find myself chasing tasks when what is needed is stillness. This stage of parenting has seemed busier than ever, not because I am constantly moving in the way I did when my children were young, but because as my children are growing into adulthood, I find my heart and mind never rest. The stage is joyful and active in an entirely different way. My teens introduce me to new music and comedians and perspectives. They help with all the housework and increasingly manage more of their own educations. They do their own laundry and run their own tiny businesses. They help make dinners and mow the lawn. But they are not yet adults. They are straddling two worlds, with changing bodies and emotions, with swelling spiritual questions and complex realities, and in the process, my inner person is rarely still. I worry and wonder and plan. I make lists and set reminders and appointments. I try to remain one step ahead of them in all of their transitions.

I am prone to lean into busyness to pacify a restless heart. Sometimes as parents we can find relief in juggling all the things; other times our efforts wear us out, possibly even exasperate us. As a younger mother, I needed physical stillness to rest my feet, to take a nap, to think. In this stage with older children and teens, stillness has become the pathway into God’s presence, toward trust, toward rest, toward joy. The physical stillness reveals my restless heart and invites me to surrender it. Again and again, much like I wrote a few years ago here.

Long road trips require a lot of sitting and stillness. They also require patience. As any parent might attest in answering the curious little person in the back––ten hours is still ten hours. You cannot hurry time. Perhaps it’s why I enjoy road trips so much. They provide a physical reality of what is always true in life: we’ll get there when we get there. The secret, as they say, is to rest and enjoy the ride.

There were so many years where our home lives and learning looked more concrete—seeing, listening, doing. I worried: Am I doing enough, will they have enough? Have we made the right choices in their education? In those years, our school table sprawled with colorful illustrations, imaginative stories, math or language manipulatives. Our sofa housed long hours of read-aloud with Legos or other handwork and hot cocoa or tea. They sound romantic now, but they were hard—my plans often wandering away to take their own form. I was learning patience in one way or another, again and again. But the funny thing is: I miss those days. I am savoring my youngest’s childhood all the more. 

Our days now feel more abstract, conversations piled one upon the other. Minus Olive’s daily practice, our work together is far less colorful and picturesque—who wants to see images of Logic proofs or Latin translations or Algebra equations—but it’s beautiful in its own way and I feel more present somehow, working out these pages with them, making cheesy jokes, seeing glimpses of the incredible humans they are becoming. 

Parenting in every stage requires our attention.  Not our hovering. Not our control. And sometimes, not even our plans. Our attention, more than the books we read or the curriculum we follow, informs them the most. It changes us. It allows us to see beyond the tantrums and scribbled walls and grumbling mornings, to see them—human, soul, developing person. Grace flows from those humble places. And by some miracle, we can look in the mirror and receive the grace for that person, too.

Some stages and phases will feel more like sweet spots for us than others. But don’t give up on the hard ones. The days or weeks or years that seem to take every part of our mind, will, and emotions—well, quite honestly, they are the ones when you and they grow the most. 

Last week, in the small space between the kitchen stove and the wood countertops, one of my children felt unloved. *He told me I had a soft-spot for the other three children and not for him. My heart cracked open. In that moment, I wanted to blurt out it’s not true, to recount love in concrete terms––held, slept, protected, fed––but they seemed so plain and empty. If love is misunderstood, do those things matter? Instead, I listened.

Through tears, she recounted the list from her head aloud, her inward rehearsals that she was somehow loved less. I wrapped my arms around her, remembering how I once held her within me, her sole source of life. Since birth we have both been learning what it means to be human. I’m sorry, I whispered. I do have a very soft spot for you. Her body began to soften, to receive my embrace.

I slowly asked question after gentle question, trying to find the path to his brokenness. Or maybe it was my brokenness? The heart is such a wayward guide. What was clear is the more these words spilled out, the lighter his face and heart became. Heartache released.

I realize, at times, in my want to fix a situation or a hurtful moment in any of my children, I rush in with words and explanation, with ideas to re-direct their pain. Yet healing is always found in the light, negative thoughts spoken aloud, released. This is easier written than practiced. Sometimes their thoughts brought into light will accuse me. Like the ones I heard in this very moment, I will hear that I am not enough, that I have failed. Maybe you have heard this lie, too? Dearest reader, this is what I know: in the work of shepherding hearts, it takes courage to silence our own insecurities and self-criticisms in order that we might hear theirs. It takes courage to listen without offense, without the need to defend our own hearts. It takes courage to create a safe space for their insecurities, their fears, their offenses. But if willing to do so, we also create space for the truth: that they are so very deeply loved, that they were created with purpose, that they are not bound by the voice in their head. This is the hardest work.

To be clear, as parents, we are not doormats. We are not powerless or without voice or defense. We are leaders of their hearts for only a brief time, showing them in such very small, plain ways how to listen, how to see. Sometimes this will happen with words about their identity––love, beautiful, you, God––and sometimes this will happen with words that instruct––honor, kindness, forgive, patience––and still other times, this will happen with only hugs and eyes that listen.

The obvious fact in homeschooling is also the hidden gift. It is that I live with my children. They see me and I see them, at our very best and our very worst. They may not remember the pages of history or literature or numbers that currently fill our days, but maybe those things are all merely fodder used to reveal one simple truth: we are spirit of God clothed in humanity. We are each imperfect and beloved, broken and rising. Perhaps our heart is not glass at all, shattering and piecing back together. Perhaps our heart is wild and alive, merely shedding skin as it rubs against another, and grows.

*For the privacy of my children, I have intentionally interchanged the pronouns here. The goal is not tell their stories for them, but to share the parts of their narrative that expose my own heart. 


I imagine much of the comparison that happens between mothers begins simply and honestly, a way to observe and emulate other women we admire for one reason or another. We actually need one another in this way. We need other mothers in our lives to share experience or to bounce ideas and inspire us when we find ourselves overwhelmed or in a rut. We need to know that other women have endured sleepless nights or cleared poop from the floor or learned how to love their postpartum bodies. We need to hear various ways other mothers have taught their children kindness and how to share, or how they learn to clean up after themselves or where they go to school. These are the easy comparisons, the ones that remind us we’re not alone in the difficult choices and sometimes crappy parts of motherhood. Literally.

Perhaps comparison between us takes a downturn when in our estimation of others, we begin criticizing ourselves, nitpicking our own choices, style, and circumstances to fit in with another’s. We visit a friend’s house or scroll through our social feeds and feel it: we are not measuring up. We’re not organized enough, thoughtful enough, traveling enough, creating enough, thin enough, experienced enough, successful enough, strong enough. Our children aren’t dressed well enough or experiencing enough or playing enough or reading enough. Our homes are not clean enough or decorated enough or organized enough or environmentally-friendly enough. The list goes on and these thoughts, muddling our perspectives and vision, can be a slippery slope into doubt, shame, and even depression.

As mothers we need honest community, even if at times it is only one other person. We need someone with whom we can openly share our not enoughs, and one whom we trust will speak truth and courage to our darkest thoughts. Although I always write honestly here and do sometimes share bits of these personal hardships, these spaces are not the primary places I share the underbelly of our life. That said, know there is an underbelly. I wrestle with doubt and anxious thoughts. I regularly question my ability to actually do all I want to do. I sometimes find myself wishing for those illusive descriptors more and better. You are not alone. I encourage you, the next time you’re feeling ill-fitted for the task at hand or less than pleased with how your body fits in clothes, pause and begin listing gratitudes aloud, even if it begins with the simplest gift of being able to take a breath.

For those of you who need ideas or courage in finding community in motherhood, I wrote about that here.  For those of you who tend to guard your underbelly and struggle with perfectionism in motherhood, I wrote about that here.

This post is a part of the collaborative “Real Talks” series. To read more thoughts on comparison in motherhood:

Alexandra from Ave Styles | Rebecca from A Daily Something | Erin from Design for Mankind | Amy from Parker Etc. | Catherine from The Life Styled | Kat + Em from The Refined Woman | Hillary from Our Style Stories


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 enough at any of it. Overwhelmed, I laid there staring at the lines of street lamp light crossing our bedroom walls, my husband sleeping deeply beside me. Why do I have such a hard time doing the same? Why do I run myself through an analysis, looking for fault and unfinished work instead of simply celebrating all that has been accomplished? Why is it so hard for me to do my best and let go?

I quietly slipped out from my sheets and began to write. I wrote to release the tightness in my chest. I wrote to find the woman buried in my thoughts and soul, the one who I am always comparing myself to and yet never measuring up with somehow. I needed to meet her. I began with these two lines.

I am deeply perfectionistic. I say this not with pride but with a tinged face of embarrassment, a confession that I’m hoping to release a bit more even if simply by writing it out.

Perfectionism. Damn. This was about perfectionism. I’ve always known I’m a perfectionist. Always. I have handfuls of childhood stories in how I learned to walk or ride a bike, form my letters or even save/spend money.  Honestly, I’ve always thought of this part of myself without much weight, much like handedness or style preference. If the topic ever came up in a conversation, I might have even felt a sense of pride. Yet when I wrote those first two lines, I noticed something deeper for the first time: embarrassment and an inferred shame about this part of myself. Somewhere deep within me I know perfection is illusory and unrealistic. Embarrassment arises by my striving for it anyway.  Shame reminds me I’m never measuring up.

I wrote for an hour that morning, describing the woman  in my head among other things. I wrote her out as honestly as possible, every standard that I hold myself to in parenting, marriage, writing, self-image, wellness, and so on. At times, I laughed at myself, recognizing the absurdity of my expectations. At times, I cried, recognizing the burden of my ideals. With every line, every word something in me began to release. Sometimes writing out my thoughts can be the most tangible way to recognize the lies, the expectations, the disappointments, the standards.

Motherhood touches every part of us, even the parts we didn’t know yet existed.  I’ve often heard people say having children is like having your soul/heart forever walking outside of your body. While often used as a sentimental line used to demonstrate the amount of love we carry for our children, I will also note it is true about our insecurities, too. Motherhood releases a deep capacity for love. It also reveals our deepest fears and failures. Motherhood and marriage have been the most vulnerable journeys for me. They require me to bare my heart again and again in the best possible way, even when its ugly. And sometimes, it is ugly.

Since the first day of this year, my heart has continued to unfold. I have never felt so undone, so seen. I won’t discuss all of it here, because I’m not sure this is the place for that, although I imagine bits will trickle through my writing in various ways anyhow. But I can say this: I’m am seeing–I mean really seeing–parts of my heart for the first time, and it’s so good. It’s hard. But it’s good. The kids and I are talking about our own interactions in a new way. We’re having more conversations about shame, about hurt feelings, about conflict. I want them to have tools as they grow into adult years. I know I’ve mentioned it umpteen times here and on Instagram, to friends and family alike. Go and get yourself a copy of Rising Strong.  I began reading it not far into the new year, and it is wrecking me in the best possible way. It should have been on my parenting list, although I would retitle it as a parenting book, “how to deal with you sh$t, so your kids know how to deal with theirs.”

At the end of last year I read Big Magic, a nicely dove-tailed book to Rising Strong, concerning fear and the creative process. But Elizabeth Gilbert notes this, words I have returned to again and again the last few months:

I think perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear. I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, “I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.”

Perfectionism is a particularly evil lure for women, who, I believe, hold themselves to an even higher standard of performance than do men. Holding back their ideas, holding back their contributions, holding back their leadership and their talents. Too many women still seem to believe that they are not allowed to put themselves forward at all, until both they and their work are perfect and beyond criticism.

The truth is perfectionism–whether in my mothering or home or marriage or work–distances me from others. It secretly whispers that I am never measuring up. It keeps me tucked away from other people’s stories and experience, from realizing I’m not alone. Through sharing experience with one another, through writing out or discussing (or in the hardest times, crying) about these fears or burdensome areas where we don’t measure up, we leave a place for truth. We leave room for light and connection and encouragement with one another. Ultimately, vulnerability with people we trust, even the most uncomfortable bits, leaves space for healing.

favorite_parenting_books-2 favorite_parenting_books

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 asked me about my favorite parenting books, so I thought I might share a few here for those of you interested in the books that have helped shape the strategy and heart in our parenting thus far. Truly, my mother and other dear friends have been my favorite resources, although I know not everyone has parents they can trust for advice, or friendships nearby with whom to share a drink and swap parenting joys and woes. On a brief side-note, if you are in the latter group, please don’t be  discouraged. I have found myself in similar places after moves or in new transitions or simply due to the fullness of our family life, and there is a sweetness, too that comes with seasons alone with your children. You might find a few ideas for meeting friends in what I wrote here last year.

Parenting books are wonderful for hearing ideas and strategies outside of my immediate circles, especially when I have felt in a rut of routine or simply defeated. Let’s agree now: no book is entirely perfect or will match one family or child exactly. But I’ve learned if I’m willing to listen and observe my own children and habits and not assume I have to know everything or get it right all the time, it’s easier for me to hear just the right lessons anywhere. Also, prayer matters. Taking time to bless my children (and husband), to ask God for wisdom in how to lead them, is a bold act of humility; it also shapes my own heart. I digress again. As we grow nearer to the teen years, I’m looking again at these books and turning to a few new ones. Of course, I’d love to hear any of your own favorites (and so would other readers), so feel free to share in the comments.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson | I want to read this again as an older parent. This book covers a broad range of topics and is written in a way that explores and exposes research than gives didactic steps for parents to practice. It’s smart and narrative-drive, and the writers have clearly titled and sub-titled each chapter for quick reference or if you’re simply interested in reading a part. The book is intriguing for exploring some of the common social beliefs/stereotypes about children and teens.

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne | I mentioned this book here, so you might have known it would appear on this page, too. It is a “less is more” book on parenting and is clear, gentle, and well-written. I should also note that although it addresses the clutter of toys and routine, it’s truly a deeper philosophy, one that if begun in little ways while children are small will be a gift in upcoming years, too.

Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk | This book is written from a Christian perspective about loving and empowering your children with self-control over punishment-driven tactics. It is narrative-driven, brief, and easy to follow. Although the ideas are his own, Silk often references Parenting with Love and Logic, another reference I’ve heard other parents rave about over the years, although I have never read it.

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The Seven Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation  by Becky Bailey | I read this when Olive was a toddler, when I found myself exhausted of strategies to nurture her emotional self while setting boundaries that worked for my other children. This book is clear and highly practical, and always address the parent’s heart/thoughts first before addressing the children. The seven basic skills are clearly outlined with sub-titles (for skimming or reference as you need it). I wish I could put one in the hand of most adults, who it seems could benefit from learning these skills as much as children.

Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey | This book has little to do with parenting and much to do with understanding people. We all know our partners and children are different than us, and yet it’s still difficult to resist making them like us. This book, based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), has been so helpful over the year for noticing the nuances of temperament. I don’t limit myself or family member to their boxes, as some might fear, but rather use it as a tool to see, “you’re not doing this to frustrate me, you truly experience the world in a way that doesn’t value or see this.” It leads to all sorts of interesting conversations.


Solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe. ―Susan Cain, Quiet

It feels redundant to mention the messy and loud work of motherhood, let alone with the homeschool. Whether by the practical work of our hands or the soulful work of the heart, it is simultaneously the most beautiful and depleting work, requiring  every bit of our reserves, regardless of educational choices or occupations outside of the home. Parenthood will turn our hearts inside-out in the best of ways, and while it is inherently about our children, parenthood is also a journey of self. I encourage you, dearest readers, do pay attention to this less obvious part too.

On a recent weekend, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen on my own, listening to music and working with my hands. At the end of the evening as the kids were bathing and sliding into bedtime routine, I recognized an internal energy that typically isn’t there at this point in the day. I’m more likely in these hours to fall asleep during read-a-loud or slip into my own sheets just after the kids. Our children had played or worked outside all day, taking full advantage of our unseasonable warm weather. The overflow of energy, I realized, came from quiet, from spending a few hours working with my hands, listening to music, and simply allowing my thoughts to drift without the need to talk or explain a process. I had simply worked.

Knowing how much solitude or quiet activity fuels me as an introvert, the choice to live and learn with my four children all the time may seem funny to others. For years I have wrestled with guilt about this personal need. Taking time for the self can often feel secondary and selfish in the wake of all that can be (or should be) done for our children, and we mothers can be hard on ourselves in the process. After reading Quiet several years ago, I realized this need of mine is as much a gift to my children as any other. I can only say it this way:

The point of solitude is not merely to be filled but to be filled often enough to overflow into something or someone else.

Motherhood is not a life of solitude (even though a mother with a newborn or young toddlers might feel differently). It is a conscious practice of living out-loud, of talking through actions and patterns of thought in order to teach our children. This is a tree. This is a book. This is a bed. This is food. We teach them how to handle anger and happiness, how to talk through hurt feelings and where to look up answers to practical questions. This is anger. This joy. This is laughter. This is hurt. Here is how we speak, how we use our bodies to share our emotion. Here is how we ask for help. We show them the paradoxes and contexts for living. This is a stranger. This is a new friend. Here is how and when you greet them.  We teach practical skills in self-care. Here is a toilet. Here is a bath. Here is a toothbrush. We also teach them about boundaries, about the connection between self and others. This is yours. This is mine. This is sharing. This is fun. This is tired. This is a tantrum. This is the need for rest.  Homeschooling simply adds the layer of academics. The same lessons spiral over and over in a new context. Here is frustration. Here is joy. Here is perseverance. Here is respect for others. Here is a need for rest.


By honestly sharing my own boundaries and limitations, I am likewise teaching my children to recognize their own. I am also teaching them it is okay to say remove myself from people or activities I love in a healthy way. Here are a few ways that I’ve learned to find quiet during my homeschool days and in motherhood in general over the years:

rest time | Take an hour in the afternoon for rest time. This is a time of quiet, where littles can nap and non-napping children can listen to audiobooks or play independently. Quiet is the emphasis for our home during this hour, and the rule is you must choose an activity that won’t disrupt someone else. This last bit gets easier as they grow older, although sharply protecting this time is more difficult. During this time, I typically take care of online work. On the best days, I just grab a book and a cozy spot on my bed.

go outside | Anytime I’m feeling overwhelmed by the noise in my head or environment, I step outside. When my children were young, I would load them in a stroller or wrap them to my body somehow for a journey to the park. Now as my children are a little older, we may take our work outdoors or I may just go and sit in a sunny spot in the backyard for a few minutes. Sometimes emotion and thought need to be free of the physical home.

take a time-out for yourself | Time-out has such a negative connotation, as it feels equated with toddler tantrums or other misbehavior. I realized during those early mother years, that sometimes I was the one who needed a time-out. Some moments I felt overwhelmed, frustrated, or like I might lose patience, I learned it was better to take a ten minute break for myself before addressing them. I might put the baby in the crib or the toddler in a high-chair with a snack or on their bed with a book. I might send pre-schoolers outside for a bit to swing or play. I still do this, no longer because of tantrums, but because some days the work at hand does feel overwhelming. It’s always good for me to find a quiet spot in the home or yard, take a few slow, deep breaths. These moments feel almost trite, but they work wonders for finding perspective.

offer screen time | Let me pause here and say there’s no shame in using a screen for help. Most modern parents are aware it’s best for children to learn with our hands and by human interaction. And yes, make that type of experience the bulk of your day together, but remember to show compassion to yourself, too. Are you dressed or needing a shower? Are you feeling emotionally anxious or stressed? Have you spent more time playing the sibling referee or working through toddler tantrums than normal? Take 30 minutes. When my children were little, they had a daily 30-60 minutes of screen time. They watched (and loved ) the BBC’s Planet Earth, which we still own and watch, and several documentaries on Netflix. They also watched PBS shows or Leap Frog Letter Factory or Math to the Moon.

send the kids outside | As my children have grown older, I often send them outside. I may give them a specific task or the simple imperative to play and enjoy fresh air. As our studies grow more complex and difficult, they need the balance, too.

Also: Rest Time in Our Home

wren_elizabeth-1-2There is a moment during childbirth where you no longer care what is happening in a room, who is staring or what they might think of the gaping parts of your body. Your attention is solely directed at the baby within you, and the process by which your body releases him or her into the world. Birth is miraculous, no doubt, but not because it is sprinkled with fairy dust or is easily accomplished. It is sweat and blood and pain tossed with purpose and breath and intense amounts of love. In the most vulnerable ways, childbirth appropriately initiates women into the strong, vulnerable role as mother.

Although six years removed from my own experience, I’m still learning a million lessons from those hours of childbirth, the hours of waiting, of breathing through fear and doubt and pain. Life–the real sort, the one where we are honest and cast aside pretense and edits–is a hard and beautiful mixture. It is a place in which the warmest light and softest kisses of hope touch the barest limbs, the grittiest disappointments and unknowns, if we allow it.

I don’t know most of you and don’t presume to know the context of your life struggles, the physical or abstract pain of the heart which often labor with their own sort of birth pangs. Some of you reach out with emails and vulnerably share bits of your own story, and a few of you I will graciously cross paths with in person. But for the most part, we are relative strangers sharing and reading snippets of an otherwise complex life journey. Where ever you are today, this week, in this season, I want to remind you of this: breathe, take courage, and always hope. Miracles are coming.


This is my sweet new niece, Wren Elizabeth, born just over three weeks ago, and now napping on my bed. I have a new nephew, Brayden Michael, who I have yet to meet, and a second nephew who will be born halfway around the world so very soon. Each new life is always a reminder to me of miracle, of the patient gift of life given in such a raw and vulnerable manner. Grace to us all.

Enjoy your weekend, and remember, the ecru giveaway ends tonight at midnight! xo