infinity scarf.

This was going to be a very hip, Pinterest-y post about my first crocheted infinity scarf. But real life is funnier.

me: Hey Amie, want to do a fashion show and let me take pictures of you?

Amie: Ok sure!

me: You have to wear what I say.

Amie: No way. I want to wear my flower girl dress and sparkle shoes.

me: No, I want you to wear your blue dress and tights and boots and your new scarf.

Amie: No. That won’t look good.

me: Yes it will. I know about fashion too you know.

Amie: Not as much as I do

Silence.

me: Will you do it for a piece of chocolate?

Amie: How many pieces?

me: Three

Amie: Ok, I’ll do it.

Judah: Will you accept a dinosaur fashion show for chocolate?

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monday gratitude.

33. Rainbow Rowell’s novels
34. the smell of a freshly opened English Breakfast teabag
35. road trip to Ikea with Shari
36. fall colors outside my window
37. a day that’s warm enough for open windows
38. our elders and deacons and pastors officially voted in yesterday
39. the load it takes off David’s shoulders to have help
40. staying on top of the laundry
41. fire pits
42. planning a book and tea club
43. Dinner: A Love Story (this would make a great Christmas gift)
44. Boundaries
45. a new crochet project
46. not traveling for Thanksgiving
47. mapping out my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner
48. all of our adoption expenses are raised!
49. we’re one week closer to meeting our baby

the challenge in hindsight.

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I’m sorry things have been quiet on the blog lately. I loved the October writing challenge, but I’ve also very glad for a break from writing every day. Now I feel rested and have some ideas for the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a some thoughts on my experience with 31 Days of Purposeful Simplicity.

1. I’ll never forget my writing process for the series, because in September I experienced a terrible bout of insomnia. I’ve struggled with sleep at different times of my life, but this was unlike anything I’d known. Ambien did nothing for me. I’d pop awake at 1 or 2 in the morning and be filled with dread at the long, lonely hours stretching ahead of me until everyone else woke up.

You’d think an introvert would enjoy that, but stack up a few sleepless nights up and you feel like a crazy person. But somehow, in those hours, I wrote. I wrote half the blog series during those nights. That and watched Pitch Perfect way too many times. Thankfully things are much better now, thanks to an adjustment in my anxiety medication.

2. I was surprised by how much I loved writing all month. I just kind of got swept away in my topic and lived in my head way too much, but I even enjoyed that. I thought several times, I wish I could do this every day. But I can’t, and I realized it firsthand. Things suffered around the house and I sort of lived in a perpetually distracted mode with my family. They were gracious, but it was good to come back to myself at the end of it. One day I’ll really write.

3. I tried my hardest to keep blog posts short and pithy and clever, in the style of other blogs I read. But I just couldn’t. Short blog posts aren’t really me. That’s okay though, because I learned that those who have trouble writing short blogs are probably better suited to writing a book. Writing a book! That’s a fun thought.

4. I needed the words I wrote. I can’t tell you how much junk God brought up in my heart as I shared the things I’ve learned. It’s as if He was gently reminding me, The learning never stops, Julie. You write these things as one who’s still in process. I’m so glad He did it, because it’s always, always worth it to face the hurt and sin in my heart. Repentance and healing happened, and November truly feels more peaceful as a result.

5. Finally, my very, very favorite part of the challenge was talking with you about the series all month. Thank you to those of you who brought it up in emails, texts, conversation. You all help me learn by processing what you’re learning and you encourage me to keep on going. This blog wouldn’t be what it is without you. I love this little community.

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To read this series of blog posts, click here.

tuesday gratitude.

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Today I’m so very, very grateful for our adoption fundraiser this weekend. I’m grateful to those of you who came, who helped: who made great food and drinks and supplies, to my brother Kenny who brought in the band, to those who set up and took down sound equipment, who hung out and talked and laughed and wrote us cards and encouraged us endlessly.

I’m grateful for the laughter of a whole bunch of kids jumping on the trampoline and climbing in the playhouse and running around the yard sneaking more treats. I’m grateful to Volcanoes in the Kitchen for driving from Charleston and playing awesome music for an hour and a half straight and for giving us half the proceeds of their merchandise sales.

I’m grateful for neighbors who stopped by and who graciously put up with all the cars and noise on our street. I’m grateful for those who donated on Sunday night and those who have sent money. I’m grateful for the flood of tears sitting at the dining table afterward and counting out donations.

There are no words to express just how thankful we are.

We raised $10,300 for our adoption expenses.

Thank you.

monday gratitude.

20. my kids played for 2 hours with their friends after CC this afternoon
21. John is ordained and was officially installed as associate pastor yesterday
22. my in-laws are now members of our church!
23. seeing healing and joy on the face of a friend who was broken and despairing a year ago
24. money to buy groceries
25. the relief of dinners planned out for the week
26. a meeting with a group of women I love in a home I love tonight
27. Bleak House tv series
28. ideas for positive ways to discipline from Boundaries With Kids
29. the comfort of having my husband home after a weekend away
30. our new habit of going to bed early and waking up early
31. an email in my inbox saying books are waiting for me at the library
32. money given toward our adoption

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10 things i don’t do.

Happy Friday!

I was just browsing blogs and found this list, and thought it was genius. So obviously I tend to blog about the things I do, but I in no way do it all. Here’s a few of the things I don’t do right now:

1. buy organic food

2. exercise three times a week

3. run more than 2 miles

4. change my kids’ sheets regularly

5. a good job with any administrative task

6. separate whites from darks or wash on anything other than “cold” cycle

7. throw birthday parties for my kids

8. drink enough water

9. come up with imaginative extra homeschooling projects or crafts

10. currently make snack trays

This is liberating! Now it’s your turn. What don’t you do?

home school.

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Can you believe it’s November?

We’re closing in our our fall semester of school and I’m feeling a little anxious to get through the school work we need to before my first semester report is due in the beginning of December. This is my first year of reporting for homeschooling. In the state of South Carolina starting in first grade, we’re required to be registered with a homeschooling accountability organization. We have to complete 180 days of school in a year. And I have to keep records of the work we complete.

At the beginning of this year that felt a little overwhelming, coupled with the fact that I’m homeschooling two grades this year. A month or so in I realized I needed to make a big shift in my expectations for what my week would look like. I was trying to sustain my normal pace of meeting with friends and activities with the kids and squeeze school in where I could.

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Now I’ve readjusted our weekly schedule. I’ve realized that if I’m going to make homeschooling work, I have to view it as my job. It is my job. So I’ve backed way off of weekly activities so that the kids and I are home for the stretches of time it takes to get school work done. In the end it still doesn’t take very many hours as long as they are focused, intentional hours.

The long and short of it is, it’s not always easy, but I love homeschooling this year. I love it more than last year. Yes, it’s my job, but it’s a good job.

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Judah has a guidance counselor with our accountability organization, SCAIHS, and I was able to meet with her this summer and tell her some of our struggles from last year, some of Judah’s strengths and weaknesses. She was amazingly helpful in coming up with a curriculum that better suits his learning style. Interactive, hands-on, drawing from his interests.

Judah enjoys school so much more this year. Yes we have our moments, but I can see his confidence growing daily. He started reading a chapter book last month which was a huge breakthrough for him since reading has not come quickly. He now gets to do an online math game after we finish our math lesson which is a big motivator for him. He has a pretty incredible memory for details and is soaking up U.S. geography like a sponge.

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Amelie loves kindergarten and would do it all day I think. She’s starting to read and enjoys writing. I can tell she’s picking up so much just being in the room while I’m working with Judah.

My biggest challenge is giving them each focused time throughout the morning, especially with Judah since Amie struggles a little more to play by herself. I’ve learned to do several subjects with the two of them together and will write more about that later, but I’m still trying to figure out how to not be distracted when we’re working one-on-one.

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Mostly right now I just feel grateful. I love this season at home with my kids, learning with them and watching them master new skills. I love the little community God’s given us, friends to take field trips with and meet with weekly at our co-op. I love the flexibility our family has right now to be together on David’s day off and to head to Asheville for a couple of days if we want.

There are days I want to pull my hair out, but what parent doesn’t have those days? I want to accept that parenting is hard no matter what, but it’s also full of gifts. Right now I’m enjoying the gift of school at home.

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monday gratitude.

Right now I’m in a season of waiting. It’s not like anything I’ve ever felt before. I think about our baby throughout the day (and sometimes night) and my emotions are a jumble of wondering, happiness, fear, excitement, sadness, and delight. God gives peace, moment by moment, but still I wonder. How long? What twists and turns will this adventure take?

I’ve come to realize that a whole lot of life is waiting, in some way or other. And when I look back on the waiting seasons, I think I’d have to say my biggest regret is what I missed out on along the way because I was so focused on just having what I wanted.

And so I’m starting a Monday gratitude list, which is really just another way of saying that I’m trying to pay attention. I want to look around me and see what God’s given me today, to see what He’s doing in and around me today. This morning I read about Abraham in Romans 4, that “he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.” I like that. I can’t control much about life right now, but I can give glory to God. Today. So that’s what I’m going to do.

1. cold air and slushy-snowy-rain on Saturday
2. waking up early and braving the weather with Anna for a cozy breakfast at Drip
3. how happy Fiestaware dishes make me
4. my kids’ sheer delight in trick-or-treating with their friends
5. Amie: “Mom, will you keep an eye on Dad tonight so he doesn’t eat all my candy?”
6. homemade apple pie
7. our friend Jim is one year sober
8. God can change a life in the blink of an eye
9. taking communion with my son
10. the way crocheting calms my mind
11. making something pretty and useful with my hands
12. the liveliness and chaos and challenge of Monday mornings at Classical Conversations
13. playing Yahtzee with my dad
14. Lila, which I still can’t stop thinking about
15. the cup of piping hot tea beside me
16. Quiddity podcasts
17. warm socks
18. laughing with my kids
19. this aching-happy thrill of waiting for our baby

asheville.

My brother Kenny, his wife Shari, and their boys, Owen and Oliver, invited us to go with them to a friend’s cabin in Asheville for a couple days this week. It was a much-needed getaway for all of us. We enjoyed the quiet, cool mountain air and the breathtaking shades of fall leaves, eating really great food, and exploring a bit. Mostly we just enjoyed being together.

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