Coming Home

We moved this summer! I gather most of you know that already as I would guess I know just about everyone who reads my blog in real life anyway but I thought I would share the story of how we came to be where we are now so I could have it here as a keepsake.

After selling our previous house in the span of three days we had to make some decisions quickly about our priorities. We spent the last few years entertaining the idea of buying some land and starting a small hobby farm but when the time came there was nothing on the market that was the right fit. The properties were either too expensive, too far gone in the repairs department, or too small for the needs of our family. After seeing what was on offer we had to decide whether we would rent for six months and hope something better turned up or broaden our scope to include properties in the small town we were looking to buy near. Having waited so long to move forward as a family we discerned it best to be open to what else God might have in store for us and we booked a day to view several houses back to back, all within the town of Windsor.

I knew within minutes of walking into the first house on our viewing tour that it was the house for us. There were several nods to Bens New Zealand culture with travel books all throughout the house as well as ferns planted in the front and backyard of the house. Then there was the beautiful antique spinning wheel in front of the brick fireplace and the framed print of Anne of Green Gables that put my heart in my throat. There were several sets of the Anne books in the house as well as the Harry Potter series. The woman who lived there was a spinner as well as a knitter. The property had gorgeous apple trees surrounding the yard as well as lavender and irises and sweet peas. This home, this haven, was everything I wanted my life to be about. Books and hearth and adventure. A place to grow and make and be inspired. There were established trees and woods for our children to roam in. It reached the place inside of me that was so desperate to be established, rooted, contented.

We went on to view other properties that day but nothing compared to the first one. Not even by a long shot so we made plans to put an offer in and we went home and waited. After that it all went fairly smoothly and we began packing. I wouldn’t consider myself a sentimental person so I wasted no time. Our dining room became the box room so that we could still use the rest of the house quite functionally minus the one wall stacked high with boxes.

We moved in mid July and walked to the library to introduce ourselves and get new cards before we unpacked a single box. Then once the house was unpacked we walked to the town pool and registered the kids for a month of swimming lessons and that became our daily routine for the month of August. It was a lifeline for us when everything still felt so unfamiliar and strange.

As we enter into the Autumn months I am relishing the familiarity of the season. Apple picking, pumpkin baking, hand turkey drawing, and lighting candles as the days grow shorter. No matter where we live I know these things in the fiber of my being. So I say yes to a good slow start to the school year as we learn the names of our neighbours and walk into town daily to check the mail and maybe say hi to our friend, Peter, at the library on our way back.

We are finally home and it feels so good.


The Self-Care I Am Worthy Of

I often don’t sit down to write until I feel like I may burst if I don’t sit down and get it all out. When I do that, oftentimes it all pours out of me resulting in an entire blogpost that I have basically been formulating in my head for a month. I will catch myself phrasing and rephrasing things to myself and ocassionally out loud. So here we go.

What do you say when you someone asks you how you’re doing? I used to be quick to get things off my chest, give my list of ups and downs, regaling friends and family with my stories. How does that change when you become a mom? Especially one who is doing this gig full-time and who hasn’t been alone in her head for 13 hours of the day for years and years?

People will ask me how I’m doing and sometimes I will say, “oh we’re fine” or “Ben is …” or “The kids are..” and other times I will say, ” I have no idea.” Because its true. Most of my hours are consumed with the needs of others and that is a wonderful way that God is teaching me to put others before myself. To consider that the world does not revolve around my feelings. Something I am prone to falling into.

I guess part of the reason I write is that I am always in pursuit of this girl I used to know named Katie. Have you seen her? I need time to process. It feels indulgent at times or that its somehow not legit enough to require time alone. The funny thing is that I’m the only one who considers it not worthwhile enough. My husband is practically pushing me out the door to have that time and the kids don’t even look up as I walk out the door. My Facebook keeps telling me that people are checking my blog site and yet here I am …

Questioning whether or not my voice matters at all.

Does what I contribute have value at all?

Why bother at all?

Nearly nine years into motherhood and I am figuring out that if I don’t care for Katie, who will? What can I say? I’m a little slow on the uptake. It’s not my husbands job to make me happy full time. My kids will not be my ultimate fulfillment no matter how much I love them. My home, though grateful I am for it, does not need to be immaculate and show ready at all times, thereby taking up all of my “free time”. Can we just stop and have a laugh for a minute about the concept of “free time”? Good one, Katie.

That’s why this January I decided that I was going to endeavour to do the work of self-care that I have been pushing aside for years.

I can sit and drink coffee, knit for hours, marathon a fun little show on Netflix and practically live in the bath, all in the name of self-care. When I do these things, I feel refreshed and pampered and like myself and its a comfort. But here is the thing, brownies for lunch is not *actual* self-care. Sitting on the couch for the duration of winter and pretending that the outdoors and fresh air doesn’t exist is not self-care.

Self-care does not mean shit I want to do. It means to care for yourself. And last time I checked, we are not only souls inside of bodies. We have bodies. We are our bodies. They are Gods gift to us and we need to be good stewards of them. I have not been a good steward of my health for a long time. Yeah, I’ve been busy making, growing, delivering, nursing, raising, and educating the little people God has given me, its true. But here’s the thing…

I have daughters, but I am *also* a daughter. I am also a child of God. I should be modelling the care of my mind, spirit, AND body to my girls. So here’s what I did.

I booked a doctors appointment for a PAP. A dentists appointment. An eye appointment. A physio appointment. A therapy appointment. I ordered an exercise and diet program. Nothing extreme but enough to radically change my days. I am getting uncomfortable over here, people. I am getting up and moving my body every day even though its not my idea of fun. I am dutifully eating my veggies and proteins and showing my kids that caring for ourselves as adults *is* work and we *are* worthy of the time and level of effort that requires.

To be clear here, I don’t give a hoot about what that number is saying on the scale. It is not a relevant part of this journey for me. It would just be nice to feel good in my clothes and sleep well at night and get out of bed in the morning without my lower back burning. And for my kids? They’ve asked, “why are you doing this, mummy? Why do you want to be strong?” And I tell them with a wink, “It’s so I can carry your Daddy in my arms.”



Slowly Unfolding

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” 

My little fairy is taking her sweet time unfolding and I am grateful that she can have the gift of a slow education that is engaging her mind as well as her heart and hands and whole self. 

I won’t lie and say that it is easy all the time but I know that it’s right, despite how squirmy it makes me, so.. she sits in my lap and we work through the math. We snuggle on the couch and she fights for each word. If you have a child like this.. You are okay. They are okay. It will be okay. Life is not only for the academics. I know my sweet girl is going to have a rich and beautiful life because she is a maker. She is a beauty gatherer, always collecting things and drawing stories that she wants me to write the words out for her. 

She is doing just fine. The question that I have to keep answering is, Do I have the courage to journey slowly? It’s not an easy one to answer either because it requires trust that all will be well. It requires both diligence and patience and knowing when to leave the whole thing in Gods hands and bake brownies together instead.

To The Mom

To the mom I met at the library today with the six week old and the rough and tumble two year old who told me with tears in her eyes that she is just trying to figure it all out, 

To the mom trying to be mom and dad and doing it all on her own, whether she wants to or not,

To the mom feeling ashamed for pregnant “again” at her age with so many littles already,

To the mom who feels like she is just drowning in the dailyness of it all whether she has one child or seven,

I see you. I honor you for all that you are doing for others whether they appreciate it or not. You are good and worthy of love and care. Your sacrifices though mostly unseen are laying the groundwork for the kind of love and humility that are being sewn into your little ones. 

Each and every tear you have shed out of loneliness, desperation, exasperation or exhaustion counts for something. They matter to the heart of the Father who loves you unconditionally, even if you feel like a bad mom some days.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

You can do this. You *are* doing this. I think you’re a rockstar. If I could, I would bake you each a cake and let you eat it in delicious silence while I supervise all our kids in the backyard. You are a goddess. You are a damn superhero. You are choosing the better part and it will not be taken from you. 

Be Here Now

This is not the summer that I thought we would have. 

Our last few summers have been pre-planned with dates for a vacation and a cottage stay booked, swimming lessons, near-daily trips to the beach and meals thought out ahead of time and well-balanced. 

This summer has not been that. 

This has been the summer of sleeping in, boxed cereal, backyard kiddy pool, too much tv, ice cream for dinner and naps all around. It’s been staying up late, hanging out at home in our pjs and not many plans.

Our house went up on the market in March and it is still sitting there. It has forced us into probably the least eventful and quietest summer we’ve had for years. And you know what? 

I am so, so glad. 

It has meant more sleep for me than I have had in probably 8 years. I’ve read a stack of books as tall as my three year old. I’ve been forced into letting go and giving in to what is instead of wishing for what isn’t yet. 

God is teaching me so much about being in this very moment instead of dreaming about tomorrow when the kids are older, life calms down, we have more time, we have more money, we have stuff that no one has covered in their bodily fluids. 

Discontent is a damn cancer and it will quite happily spread through our homes if we don’t cut it off at the knees. A spirit of discontent is the single most stubborn and ugly of chronic illnesses. 

I need to Be Here Now. 

Be here now and grateful as hell that my crew is still so totally delighted with a blow up pool and freezies. Tickled pink with family movie nights and pizza. Thankful that the kids still go to bed so early so I can spend time hanging out with my husband and hearing about his day. Too busy counting all the good and wonderful blessings that God has showered me with these last five years in this house instead of moaning about our mismatch furniture or the trip to New Zealand we can’t yet afford to make even though we are desperate for it. 

I know this is so cliche but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present. How will we open it and find joy and beauty in the now?

A Day In The ParkĀ 

My husband recently blessed me with an entire afternoon to myself. Looking at it as a mini-retreat helped me to narrow down how I wanted to spend those hours.

I decided to park in the downtown area and do as much walking as possible. This was the best decision I could have made. Less time in the car meant less driving in traffic and more time to clear my head. 

I spent the first hour, at least, just reading in our new central library and standing on the rooftop looking out over the harbour. I was struck anew by the blessing it is to live in a coastal city. I found a little gem of a book on Saint Therese of Lisieux and let my heart be reminded that when I am over-stretched and over-spent, what I really need is an infusion of Divine love. To be reminded of who’s I am and why I live the way I do. 

This led to a leisurely stroll through our city’s public gardens where I literally stopped to smell the roses. It is perhaps the thing I miss most about doing anything without children. Lingering. The slower pace of walking, taking in the sights, the smells, the sound of the birds and the wind in the trees. Deciding on a whim whether to go left or right without feeling pushed or pulled in all directions, or stopping to sit and just breathe it all in. 

Imagine my surprise then when I found all but maybe a handful of people staring into their phones instead of appreciating the beauty that surrounded us. I am just as guilty of being on my phone at times as the next person but I couldn’t believe the number of people that didn’t look up from their phones once. Someone actually walked right into me because they had their eyes on a screen. That was enough to keep me from my phone for the rest of the day.

 I don’t want to miss the gifts God is trying to give me. I don’t want to miss His voice trying to break through the noise of my daily life. I know it’s there. I have heard it. Felt it. 

I remember spending many of my single days much like I spent this. Afternoons spent this way were a regular, normal, no-big-deal occurrence but now? All a gift. My time is not my own in the same way anymore. I am armpits deep in parenting and trying to keep some sense of myself, Katie, the person. The one that God made, loved, called and shouldn’t be left behind now that I am a wife and mother. 
I am a child of God. Why is that so hard to remember? I think it’s because as primary caregiver and educator of my children, it’s easy to let myself believe that it is all on me. 

For this, I have Jesus. He calls me to come away even for a few short hours to be reminded of His goodness and provision and love. When I know who I am, I look at my husband and children differently. I know who and who’s they are and it makes me a better wife and mom. When I know who God is, I can rest in His love. I can be sure that He is at work in my life and in our home, helping us to become more like Him. 

This is strength for the journey. 

Three Years In

If anyone had told me three and a half years ago that I would become a homeschooling parent, I would have laughed in their face. I am not a primary school teacher type of woman. I don’t fawn over sticky faces, get my kicks from finger paint everywhere and joy from watching sweet little faces sound out their words phonetically. I am so not her. 

I am much more of the routine ditching, day trip, coffee shop, wine and laughs with my girlfriends into the middle of the night, knitting while doing everything type. I am just *slightly* free-spirited and rebellious by nature. And that’s probably putting it lightly. This didn’t change when I gave my life to Jesus as a teenager. If anything, I felt like all of my nature, personality and tendencies finally made sense to me. 

Regardless of how I ended up here (that is a story for another day), here we are. I did things this year I never could have imagined possible and I gained a new appreciation both for the things you can do because you said you would and for knowing your limits as a human being. 

God has given me tremendous grace and freedom within my call to homeschool our children and as a result of that, I fully trust him with the results of what we are trying to do here. I am not an A-type personality. I don’t have checklists for each and every lesson and moment of our days. That’s not who I am. My Meyers Briggs test reveals that I am an INFP. I am a majorly extroverted introvert but I still need time alone to recharge. I am terrible with the fine print and nitty gritty details but man, I love me a big picture. I love to look forward ten and twenty years and imagine who our children will become, in part because of the choices we are making.

It has taken me these last few years of putting in the work and slowly seeing the fruit being produced to say that what we are doing is building something seriously rad.

It has taken me all of this time to realize that everything I thought would be my downfall as a homeschooler is what actually makes me great at it. The ability to be flexible and roll with it when you’re oldest is working on math at the table and you’re on the couch teaching your six year old to read when the three year old announces either that they’ve wet their pants or need a bum wipe should be a marketable skill.

 I’m fairly certain that I cried through the better part of this past winter, each night when my sainted husband came home but what matters here is that we did it. I did it. With as much love and patience as I could muster and made it through to the other side. I have now taught children to read on the couch, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in the car, in the backyard and while their siblings were basically throwing a parade right in front of our eyes in distraction. 

This has reminded me and also taught our children that learning happens everywhere. It is not exclusive to those sitting in desks in a classroom or those with a paper degree. We are not only learning if we do it in one specific way or if it is being taught by someone with a degree, though I have mad love for those teachers who basically have magical properties and can wrangle thirty children at once.

We are never done learning. I never went to university and I always felt like that made me less intelligent among my peers. I thought that meant I hadn’t learned as an adult but let me tell you, God has blown the doors wide open in that department for me. That good historical fiction based on a real person I just read, a good film, beautiful music, the many times I stepped foot into foreign countries… Spoiler alert, all learning. The forgiveness I have given and received as well as the choice to be loving and letting myself be loved when I didn’t think I deserved it? All learning. 

If there is any wisdom I can impart to my children it would be this..

There is a God and you are not Him. You don’t know everything. There is always something new to learn if you can humble yourself and take a posture of openness to what is being given to you. 

Here I thought I would be teaching my children and boy, are they schooling me. What a gift.these last three years have all been gift.