The Faith of our Fathers

Outside it was only late afternoon, but already dark in the mid-December sky.  Tremendous amounts of snow silenced our our neighborhood, downy banks lining the streets. And as the sky cleared, bitter cold set in. This snow would stay a while.

My dad bundled us up, zipping us into snowsuits and tieing our boots to ensure our feet would stay toasty through the long walk he had planned. Out we ventured into the dark. Stars lit our way, aided by the occasional streetlamp. Through the snow we trudged, crunching along the street. Dad led the way, two girls and a dog shuffling along behind him.

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The Mindset of Solo-Parenting

My husband often travels for his job, and his work is such that when he travels, he is mostly unavailable to me. He tries–God bless him he tries! He knows how tough it can be and how much I just need to hear his voice sometimes. But the demands of his job are high, his schedules are brutal, and the pressure is intense. Mess up, slack off, crumble under pressure and you are done in his line of work. So, when he goes off on a trip, it’s crunch time. Often he comes home to tight deadlines and high expectations, which means the pressures of a job generally follow him home, into his office, and it can be several days before he comes up for air.

And so lately I find myself at home, more or less solo-parenting my children for various stretches of time. Funny how I never really ever thought about this part.

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Our First Homeschool Year

I pictured a cute little table, with small chairs, and a colorful rug underfoot. The walls were lined with shelves filled with wonderful books, vibrant pieces of art, and bins of sensory toys made from organic wood. In the corner we would have pillows on the floor for reading and a few lamps to provide a soft glow. Large windows would welcome the outdoors in, and we would probably have a fairy garden with live plants sitting next to our stack of read-alouds from the library. (Never overdue, of course.) The air would smell like crayons and glue, and spring to life with the sounds of classical music intermixed with childish laughter. And we would be happy. We would dive into wonderful learning adventures together, all from the harmony and comfort of our special homeschool room.

A quaint space, a perfect family, a love of learning. Such a pretty picture. Such a calculated plan.

I didn’t plan on moving eight weeks into our first homeschool year, boxes becoming our worktable. I didn’t plan on unloading shelves of books into storage and turning our family room into a school setting in the basement of a home that wasn’t ours. I didn’t plan on trying to keep two active children as quiet as possible so as not to disturb my husband, who worked in the bedroom above us.

But we were given a space.

And I didn’t see the baby. I didn’t plan on near-debilitating morning sickness or depression that left me lifeless. I didn’t plan on a husband traveling for weeks at a time. But it all happened.

We moved from a big city to a small town. And we fell in love with it. The dark country skies led us to a whole semester studying the wonders of our solar system. And our local library had telescopes we could check out for free. We learned to make maple syrup and build a fire. We stumbled into a welcoming community of homeschoolers at the YMCA and looked forward to our gym class each week.  We ended up just a few miles from my parents, who opened their lives to us from the day we got here.

I didn’t plan on tackling some pretty significant issues in our life at 34 weeks of pregnancy, and having to shelve some school to cope. I resorted to just doing the minimum. But the lack of pressure gave me time to heal, making me a better mother and a better wife.

And now, we are a stronger family.

I didn’t plan on driving 30 minutes in the dark, in the bitter cold of a Wisconsin winter to the hospital to give birth to a sweet baby boy who would join our school days and make them even more meaningful.

Our lives so very often do not follow our plans. They do not bend to meet our needs or fulfill our desires. More often I find that my plans, dreams, and desires change shape. Change importance. Morph into a better, more fluid, more becoming picture of the life I am proud to call my own.

A life in which I am always learning.


This moment is a quiet one. One where my little people are occupied and the baby is snoring on my chest and my thoughts slip into focus. Those savory thoughts I file away, deep in the back of my mind to come back to when I have the time to fully explore them. Ideas float in and out as if gliding on the summer breeze. Ideas I long to work out with the written word.

But his little sighs remind me that I have a new baby. My time is precious. And actually, I’m savoring this. Sitting here, rocking this tiny body. Peace and delight in the moment.

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I left the office shaken up. They had pronounced him healthy, growing, thriving. She even said a cheery “No concerns.” Both doctor and nurse commented on how well behaved my other children had been at this check up. They smiled and laughed as my kids answered their causal questions, hearing how smart, respectful, and observant they were. It was obvious they thought highly of my little tribe. It was all going well until I declined a medical procedure. One that was totally optional and medically unnecessary.  “No thanks. We’ll skip that today.” I said politely. The mood shifted and the conversation creaked to a halt. A faded, badly printed waiver was waved at me along with a pen. Sign this and they’d have me on my way.

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