Dear, sweet October is over. October with her nostalgia and smell of leaves. I couldn't make her slow down and wait for me to get used to the bittersweet changes she brought: a baby taking clumsy first steps, a boy who after years without finally has grown a front tooth. No, she didn't wait for me. She brought me another birthday and happiness, but she left so quickly, too.
But October always saves her best for last; she holds out till the end, closing with haunted houses, costumes, and piles of candy.
I want my children to be grateful. I want them to say thanks for all that they have and all that they are.
I know that they will not always be happy, that hard times will come, and a smile just won't fit on their souls. But even in those times, I want them to remember how good they have it. Remember that they are safe. That they are loved. That they have no real needs, only wants.
I think about those mothers in Syria and Somalia and in so many other corners of the world, whose children aren't safe, whose children have needs. And I am grateful that my heart doesn't ache like theirs do, day in and day out.
And I want my children to know that they are so fortunate, that they are so blessed, and that they had nothing to do with those blessings. That it was just the luck of the draw, and their cards came up winning. And to not appreciate this life, to not appreciate all that they have, all that they are, is just plain wrong, deeply wrong.
Sometimes I think that the only person more fortunate than my children is me.I'm grateful for my messy kitchen, and I'm even more grateful for kitchen mess makers.
We aren't week night people. The morning comes too early at our house. Weeknights are for family dinner and reading books, wrestling on the floor, maybe a TV show. But we don't do much socializing. most Mondays through Thursday. We never wander far from home. I try to keep my kids under-scheduled so we can enjoy a little peace, a little stillness, at least as much stillness as a wild man and his easily provoked sister can offer.
But this season there hasn't been enough time for all the things that fall brings. We haven't gone to a pumpkin patch, made our way through a corn maze, or ridden on a single wagon. And so I'm desperately trying to add a little last-minute autumnal magic.
Tonight with a little help from a care package from a sweet friend and a few visitors, we had ourselves an almost party. We carved some pumpkins and ate some pot roast and added an October memory into the mix. Plus, there was pie.
Sometimes it is easy to sit down and find the words that perfectly convey the happiness and the contentment that come with one of those magical days spent with friends and family. Sometimes I feel like I know just how to express that feeling of peace and satisfaction, the feeling that I am/ we are really good a livin' life. I don't have those words today; I just have a happy heart and pictures of kids who were such good sports when we had to change costume plans last minute, pictures of friends posing as Janis and Jerry, pictures of oyster shucking, pictures of my super creepy daughter, and pictures of general merriment, Halloween style.
Well done, Ben and Maggie. Your party was just perfect.
attempting/ meal planning
playing/ peek-a-boo and other games on the floor
wanting/ kilim pillows and brass jewelry
reading/ Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
trying/ to spend less
dreaming/ of how to stay home next year
eating/ roasted beets with goat cheese and all the orange vegetables I can get my hands on
listening/ to Shovels and Rope and laughter from the other room
going/ to Brooklyn
doing/ small projects to make our house our very own
wearing/ black dresses and boots day after day after day
watching/ Call th Midwife and Louis
cleaning/ dried leaves carried in on feet still bare despite the chill in the hair
wishing/ for patience and contentment
finishing/ a weaving I started last February
needing/ a full night sleep
hoping/ to be still in the moment more often
praying/ prayers of thanks my children and my family and the people I love
Last spring I wrote about my reasons for homeschooling. I explained that I was home schooled through middle and high school, but I now find myself in front of a bunch of tenth graders 180 days a year. My first day in high school, I was the teacher. I had no experience as a teacher, no teaching degree, and the majority of my ideas about high school came from Saved by the Bell. That first year was sometimes terrifying, and consistently eyeopening.
I am now in my seventh year of teaching, and I feel like I am knowledgeable enough about both homeschooling and public schooling to recognize both of their merits.
Tom and I want our children to be home schooled, and I stand by my reasons that I home school. However, there are some things our children will miss out on, some wonderful and beneficial things. And while for us, for our family, the pros of homeschooling outweigh the pros of public schooling, I feel like it's important for me to really examine what my children will miss.
I work with so many wonderful, dedicated, creative, and inspiring teachers. These men and women care about our students. They care about their jobs. They care about the future of education in our country. They are, by and large, pretty amazing. Homeschooling my children means I limit my children's ability to interact with these teachers on a consistent basis. I lessen the potential number of adults who can inform and influence and impact my children. I acknowledge that keeping them out of public school puts a greater responsibility on me and Tom to make sure that we expose our children to other adults, with other opinions, other passions, and other perspectives. If we don't, we run the risk of raising children with narrow views, who may never get excited about engineering even though they would have loved it because they never had the right adult in their lives to kindle that flame. I believe that we can take steps to help our children discover hidden passions, explore various ways of learning, question previously formed opinions, but it is not built into the system the way it is with public school. Homeschooling means that my children have less opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with a variety of adults. I hope that by acknowledging this fact, I will be better prepared to help Sena, Gus and Arlo interact with as many grown-ups as possible, and not just my friends and family, who share many of my ideas and views, but other adults, weird, different, even "subversive" adults, as well.
Friday was a perfect day- no work, no holiday, lay in bed and play with your kids sort of day. The kind of day where everything you manage to get done feels like an undeserved accomplishment. The kind of day when your kids are once again best friends with each other.
It was a day for spray painting and stick painting and blowing bubbles. Everything tasted a little better. It was just right.
There are a few things I know I inherited from my mother: my freckles, the bridge of my nose, my fertility, my inability to spell words. There are some things I think/ hope/ like to pretend I inherited from my mother: her generosity, her sense of style/ artistic inclination, her loyalty. But there are a few things I didn't get and I feel a little robbed: her amazing energy and her complete competence*. The woman can work circles around me, and she never needs a break. I swear I never saw the woman sit except for to eat dinner from birth till I was about 14.
And she can do anything. She somehow always knows just how to get stuff done. She can sew and lay tile, reupholster, landscape. She assembles furniture in record time. I wish I had some of that in me.
This is mostly just to say thanks to my mama who is helping me refinish beds and organize the basement, does loads of my laundry while I'm at work and manages to love up on her grandbabies somethin' fierce all the while.
*Also, I wish I had her hourglass figure. The woman has birthed a lot of kids (I wasn't kidding about that fertility thing) and still is rocking it.
I don't know how to talk about my weekend without bragging. I don't know how to express how much I love and appreciate and completely enjoy the people in my life without being downright boastful.
This weekend had gifted art and midnight construction projects, best friends from Brooklyn and baby ducks, jet skis and breakfast feasts. I was surrounded by my children and my family and my friends and so much love.
I said good-bye to 28, a year that brought me Arlo, our first house, and a minivan, and said hello to the last year of my twenties. I have to say I was sad about this birthday because I feel a little suspicious that 29 can't possibly top 28. 28 was so good to me; how can this year compete? 29, show me what ya got.
Rachel makes people feel good, good about themselves, good about each other, and good about life.Rachel makes a place feel good, makes its nooks and corners feel special, makes its rooms inviting, fills its walls with color and its halls with warm sound.Life can be rough -- babies want boobs all night, kids want to yell at each other and knock over houseplants, neighbors want to call the police on you when your sister-in-law parks her car in the road so that its back tire is in front of their house.Rachel handles life with grace, she speaks with ease and poise, she laughs loud and frequently and isn't afraid of anything.If you could manufacturer a machine that does everything Rachel does, it would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars -- not just because of the qualities that make her valuable as a mother and wife, but (and, honestly, much more importantly) because it would be a machine exhibiting intelligent behavior indistinguishable from that of a human being. You would make a fortune.
I've been spending time thinking about what I want for my children,
in particular what I want them to be, what I hope for them.
Above all else, I want my children to be kind--
kind to others, kind to each other, and kind to themselves.
I want my children to be the ones who notice the lonely, the sad, the scared. And I want my children to be the ones to show them kindness, to let them know that they are important and that they are loved. I want them to be kind to the old ones, the young ones, the scarred ones, the broken ones, the forgotten ones, the ignored ones. I want them to show love and compassion, to bring warmth and joy.
I want my children to be kind to one another. When Gus goes to try to cheer Sena up when she is upset after being punished, and when Sena offers to memorize more Bible verses so Gus will have enough AWANA dollars to buy his prize, I know that they are on the right track, even if sometimes they stumble. I want them to look out for one another, to remember each other, to compliment each other, to hug each other. I want them to always know that they have each other to come to and that their sibling will be there to love them completely and totally.
And I want them to be kind to themselves. I want them to love themselves and appreciate who they are.
I want them treat themselves well, and for them to know that they deserve good things and good people.
They are on the right path, these three people of mine. I hope they never lose their way.
The amount of time I spend thinking about my house is absolutely embarrassing, possibly shameful. Since buying a house, I have a completely different relationship with my living space and my things, and also with my mom, or at least the way that I understand her.
As a kid I couldn't understand how she could spend so long trying to decide which fan to buy. I didn't see that the cream walls were actually green. I couldn't imagined why she said her favorite store was the hardware store.
But since we bought this old cottage, I want to make it ours, a reflection of what we value and who we are as a family. I want it to tell our story, and so all the sudden every light fixture, every door handle, seems important.
It's meant that I've maybe spend a little too long pondering who I am and who I want to be, pondering what type of family we are, and what type of family I want us to be.
I'm hoping for eclectic and imperfect, warm and comfortable, inviting and unexpected. I want people to want to explore, to sit on the chairs, to pull out books, and to grab a drink. I want the space to be beautiful and exciting, filled with life and experiences and patina and so much love.
For more of my home obsessing you can check these out, or not. Totally up to you.