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Hope is the thing with feathers that perches on the soul, And sings the song without the words and never stops at all ~Emily Dickinson
Hope With Feathers Crew

  1. Kristen

  2. Josh

  3. Halle

  4. Maia

  5. Jones

  6. Lael

Now imagination… grows by what it gets; and childhood, the age of faith, is the time for its nourishment.The children should have joy of living in farlands, in other persons, other times… in their storybooks. -Charlotte Mason

Our belief, or lack of belief, in the child’s human heart will completely determine the way we teach that child.- Mary Pride

By wisdom a house is built and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures -Proverbs 24:3-5

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Current Read Alouds
  • Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution
    Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution
    by Natalie S. Bober
  • Eloise Wilkin's Poems to Read to the Very Young (Lap Library)
    Eloise Wilkin's Poems to Read to the Very Young (Lap Library)
    by Eloise Wilkin
  • Paddle-to-the-Sea (Sandpiper Books)
    Paddle-to-the-Sea (Sandpiper Books)
    by Holling C. Holling
  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
    by Betty MacDonald
  • Regina Silsby's Secret War
    Regina Silsby's Secret War
    by Thomas J. Brodeur
  • On the Night You Were Born
    On the Night You Were Born
    by Nancy Tillman
  • Roxaboxen
    Roxaboxen
    by Alice Mclerran
  • The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
    The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
    by Emily Dickinson
  • Just So Stories
    Just So Stories
    by Rudyard Kipling
Inspiration for Mamas
  • For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
    For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
    by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
  • A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning
    A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning
    by Karen Andreola
  • The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart of Eternity
    The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart of Eternity
    by Sally Clarkson
  • The Hidden Art of Homemaking
    The Hidden Art of Homemaking
    by Edith Schaeffer
  • L'Abri
    L'Abri
    by Edith Schaeffer
  • Gift from the Sea: 50th Anniversary Edition
    Gift from the Sea: 50th Anniversary Edition
    by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming
    The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming
    by Henri J.M. Nouwen
  • Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free
    Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free
    by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
  • Is That Really You, God?: Hearing the Voice of God
    Is That Really You, God?: Hearing the Voice of God
    by Loren Cunningham, Janice Rogers
  • ESV Study Bible
    ESV Study Bible
    by Crossway Bibles
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    Monday
    Apr012013

    Homemade Chipotle Ranch Dressing

    For some time around here, I’ve been implementing new modes of eating- healthier ones! The past 18 months has been rough on me physically and emotionally and I had let some bad habits creep in, and after 2 miscarriages inside of 12 months, everything in my body felt “off.”  My solution in the new year has been to be intentional about my intake of gluten, dairy, sugar and soy and to reboot my metabolism in the process.

    My lunches have to be quick, and so salads seem to fit the bill nicely. I try to have meat (chicken, tuna, grass-fed beef) ready to go in the fridge- I’m usually still helping the kids with school work as I cook and if I don’t have this step ready, I’m tempted to reach for what is easy, and not my ideal. I’ve had to get creative in creating salad combinations I actually want to eat day after day! One way I spice things up is to make my own dressings. A ginger asian dressing over greens, bell peppers and chicken; tuna nicoise and my current favorite, taco salad. Its simple- dark, leafy greens, avacado, tomato and some organic corn chips. It needs some zest and I had a hankering for a ranch flavor so I whipped one up.

    The beauty of making your own ranch (or any style) dressing, is that its fast, fresh, cheap, usually only requires ingredients you have on hand and is missing gross additions like sugar, monosodium glutamate and preservatives. Here’s how I whip mine up:

    Combine:

    About 1/4 organic mayonaise 1 Tbsp black pepper and the juice from 1/2 lemon into a small bowl. I tend to like a lot of pepper and sometimes a pinch of salt too- so don’t hold back if you do too!

    Next, add in 1 minced clove of garlic and 1 Tbsp of cilantro or parsley. Again, I go crazy and dig a lot of cilantro. 

     

    If its a little thick, you can add some milk to thin it to your preferred texture. I used unsweetened coconut milk and I think you could use soy or almond too if that’s your preference. Then I used about 1 tsp. of chile’ powder for some mexicana kick. YUM. You could leave this part out if you just want a typcial ranch. You could also add in some minced celery if you want more of a cool, mild flavor. 

    Its also delicious as a dip for veggies and chips. Enjoy!

    Wednesday
    Mar202013

    The Day I Lied to My Son {On Squeezing Ideals into Reality}

    Over a month before his big 7th birthday and my son was already counting down the days on the calendar- jumping, big eyes wide with anticipation- antzy to his very core. “How many more days, Daddy? Can we wake up and spend the whole day as ‘the boys’? Can we go to the museum? Can we go to ice cream?” My husband is Mister Even Steven- steady under pressure, always- but I could see his face take on a strain as he asnswered that he wasn’t sure what the day would hold, but he knew it would be wonderful.

    As Jones ran out of the room daydreaming, Josh turned to me with a straight face to let me know an unavoidable business trip was going to keep him away until the day after our little guy’s birthday. Heartbreak.

    I wish I could say my intitial response was one of understanding, that I embraced my man and saw the ache it created in him. I wish I had acted wisely right out of the gate and been calm, loving…wifely. You can probably guess I didn’t go that route. My anger started bubbling right up to the surface, quick. Words flew like darts at this man I love. I questioned how he could let this happen, how we had become so wrapped up in New York that work trumped little boy birthdays… Was this what our family was headed towards more of? I got some good jabs in about priorities as tears began to flow and I huffed away, already embarrassed by my behavior. I just wanted out. Just get me out of this city, out of the busy, out of the traffic and this hectic pace that is eating away at my family.

    Ideas of escape become my cozy friends when I feel I just can’t keep going, when my ideals don’t seem to fit into nice little boxes of birthday parties and family dinners and peaceful devotions and organic everything. I always want to run. No thought to where I might go, but just escape. Just ease. Just not something to work through. I’m thankful I have a husband who sticks with me through all my rough places, steady, seeking unity, seeking me. When I shuffled back toward him to ask for forgiveness, he welcomed me. He is a man of grace, far beyond what I deserve.

    It seems there is a benefit to actually talking about things- Two heads really are better than one. We got creative. Out of the ashes, we crafted a plan that included a white lie and a little re-jiggering of the calendar. We decided to just wait and celebrate Jones’ birthday the day after, but because we tend to go big with birthdays around here, and to avoid crushing his tender dreams of a birthday spent with dad, we wouldn’t tell him ….The 11th would just become 10th. Ba dum bum. We joked that all of society’s fears of homeschoolers brainwashing their children were realized in our home as I lied about the date on the calendar for a solid week. I phoned grandparents and asked them to bump the date for breakfast shout outs and Birthday Song singing skype calls. I bribed the older girls with candy for helping to keep our secret. Only one of them called me out on being deceptive, which I considered a win.

    I did spend a teeny bit of time feeling guilty before I realized how awesome this all was. The day went off without a hitch, we were together celebrating as a family, Jones spent his day just as he envisioned with his daddy, out on the town and feeling beyond loved on and I supported Josh in the process.

    I snapped the picture above of Jones on his actual birthday and now its one of my favorites. He had just asked me how many hours until Daddy would arrive home and how many hours until he would be seven before walking me through his plans for the next day- he was so happy and so oblivious to the fact that he was already standing tall in seven year old skin. This picture was for me- my own momento of the day my boy started to stretch into being big.

    I’m certainly not advocating that anyone lie to their children. I’m not even sure if its something I’m proud of or just really thankful that I got away with, but here’s the thing: I realized there will be many times that I will have to squeeze my ideals into reality, into my limitations. And every single time, I will be faced with the choice to do so with grace or in a huff, with creative saavy or growing bitterness.

    We all have our own calendars to stretch and tender hearts to preserve. Somehow, someway, wherever we live, whatever the context of our families, each of us will be forced to adjust. We adjust mealtimes, schools, cities where we live, friends we link arms with-we bend our lives in ways that can make us dizzy so that it can all squeeze. We might not have it just as we please or envisioned, but we make it fit- like a birthday the day after, we work with what we have before us.

    We can't escape this work if we seek to truly find our way. There have always and will always be spaces that bend to create the moments that truly matter, to craft the kinds of homes we want our children to be anchored in and that we ourselves want to return to each evening and put to bed each night.

    So, what do you adjust to make life ‘work’ around your place? What do you give up or change to find a fit with your crew? What have you let go of or stretched until its felt worn out?

    Tuesday
    Mar122013

    Having a Ball- Cinderella on Broadway

    Oh how I love a good fairytale! The girls and I had the chance to attend Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Broadway last week and had a ball! (Pun absolutely intended). I wasn’t really sure what to expect, since I’m mostly familiar with Disney’s animated version- and I always wonder what kind of effects will be brought to life on stage!

    The show opened with a battle scene that was incredible and drew my girls in right away. It was certainly appealing to little boys in the audience as well, which I’m sure consoled all their mothers who had set them up to come to a Princess show. If you are a boy mom, your guys will love it, straight out of the gate!

    The storyline had some serious heart: after being away at University, the Kindom’s Prince returns, naive to the plight of the poor in his kingdom. Cinderella not only delivers the plot we expect to see one stage (glass slipper, fairy godmother and happily ever after included) but also reveals a girl who has compassion on those who are undervalued or marginalized, as she is such, and who wants to lend her voice to restore the Kingdom’s kinder days. This Cinderella is not a passive princess, but a girl of action, using her charm to help her fellow villagers.

    Maia and I snapping a photo at Intermission

    Although the musical had substance, it was really just a whole lot of fun! This is a show that is unpredictable and entertaining for all ages! Certainly not a kids only show, parents will join their children in amazement for the on stage costume transformations and flying fairy god-mother, giggle quite a bit and likely tap their feet to tunes like “Possible” (my crew are still singing!)


     

    I don’t know why I am always so surprised by the caliber of Broadway shows, but I continue to be stunned.  With a stream of Broadway revivals, somehow this show has really hit the mark.  The story really would have appealed to Jones just as much as it did the girls, with no lack of gusto from the male cast members. The show has struck a great balance between being light and fun, but also not quite as fluffy princess as I was expecting. Cinderella felt fresh, colorful, sharp and clever.

    Meeting the Cast after the show- such a treat!We had a chance to meet the cast after the show as they fielded questions from bloggers and their children. They were so great with the kids, many of whom could not differentiate between their real lives and their characters. My favorite interaction was with a young girl who wanted to talk to the actress playing Cinderella’s stepmother about her bullying behavior- she wanted to be certain she was truly sorry! Precious.

    The cast seemed to have a sweet comraderie together in real life- and they love their characters. I think their passion and warmth translate to the entire show- they really are enjoying themselves every night! You don’t want to miss them in action- definitely add Cinderella to your theatre must see if you live in or are traveling to New York. You can purchase tickets here.

     

    Hope With Feathers was not compensated for this post, but did receive tickets to the show. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks to The Moms for inviting us to join you!!

    Thursday
    Mar072013

    Until We are Home {On Walking By Faith}

     

    Earlier this month I boarded a plane alone with my four children. We were flying home to New York after nine glorious weeks of visiting our extended family in my hometown. Red eye flights always lure me in with their cheap rates and so at about 10 PM, cranky, tired kids in tow, I hugged my daddy tight, braved security checkpoints (the drama!), and we made our way to the gate. Two escalator rides, 5 bagels and 3 juices later, we arrived just in time for my youngest to collapse with her cheeks on the floor exclaiming, “My legs don’t work anymore!” while my son ran his forehead right into a sharp corner resulting in blood, a giant goose-egg and a mild concussion. The wailing was Olympic quality, I promise.

    As other passengers looked one with sympathy, pity or the occasional raised eyebrow, others helped me with my bags and even ran to nearby cafes to get ice for my sweet boy. I was so overcome with their kindness and practical help that something in me just burst and I began to cry, right there in the airport. It was a good kind of cry, but I was faced with the reality not just with what was before me in that moment, but also the journey I was embarking on: leaving home once again and raising my babes away from papas and grandmas and aunties and uncles; relying in many ways on new friendships or complete strangers for support.

    I write a lot about settling into life away from all I’ve ever known and the joys and challenges that come along with that kind of life, because that is my story- but in a way its the story of us all. At the Mom Heart conferences this year I was surprised by the common theme I kept hearing from women- they feel alone. So many of us it seems feel unstable, unsettled and ache for a deeper, truer kind of community and home.

    In Scripture, James writes to encourage the early church and likens them to the 12 tribes of Israel in the Dispersion. This was a time when God’s people had been scattered all over the world by Babylon and Assyria and they longed to return to Jerusalem. God did re-gather his people and bring them home, and James used this illustration to encourage the Church, and even those of us today who are scattered throughout the earth. One day we too will be  re-gathered by our Father, but this time, to our heavenly home- the place our hearts ache for. But what are we to do until then?

     Join me for the rest of this post today at Mom Heart

    Monday
    Mar042013

    Our Homeschool Sanity Saver (Inspired by Preschoolers and Peace)

    When we started homeschooling, I so looked forward to the coziness of mornings in our home. I thought I would wake early, make breakfast for my family, have inspiring devotions and then we’d all come to the table with brushed teeth and cute little outfits, chores done and ready for the day…and then we’d somehow smoothly transition into our work.

    No really, I actually thought it was all going to go down like that. Instead, then and (ahem) much more recently, while I dry my hair,  finish cooking breakfast, or even just indulge in getting dressed, I’ve returned to find my children keeping busy with everything BUT prepping for our school day.

    There was the time Jones created his own drum set out of all my stainless steel bowls. Super cool, buddy, but not at 7:30 in the morning. There was the time they all dressed up as secret agents and cut apart my pantyhose to make cool head gear:

    There have been cooking projects (Let’s learn to make crepes!), science experiments (this week they made three trays of rainbow ice cubes using food coloring) and of course, the old standby of making forts, which hey, at least we can do school under.

    They are the most interesting, creative and just plain awesome people I know, but they don’t stop. Once we do get going , I’m schooling four kids ages 4-11. You guys! Its crazy. We shoot off in a slew of directions with tangents here and there along the way all.day.long.  

    My older ones are able to read independently and head to quiet spaces to get independent work done, but some days, its lunch before we check in again, especially if they are taking online classes or working with tutors. For me, deciding to homeschool was in large part all about us being together- about our relationships and shared discovery.

    But, sometime after my third child entered the preschool years, I started to feel less together and more torn apart. I was fractured as a homeschool mom, trying to keep up with all the different levels of learning and all the sweet personalities before me. Plus, I wasn’t ready to let go of my cozy morning idea. Please tell me you can relate?

    I can’t remember when I discovered Kendra’s blog,Preschoolers and Peace, but when I did, it was like a new friend was personally guiding me along and helping bring order to my crazy life. The thing about Kendra is that she has eight kids. Eight. Her blog is practical, fun and real. She gets this journey, she gets juggling and she has some mad logistics skills. As I began to lean all about how to have Preschoolers AND Peace in my home, she shared a new concept with me: Circle Time.

    Essentially, Kendra has created an anchor for homeschool mornings everwhere that can be tweaked for any family, any curriculum. Its a principled approach to intentionally building into our days, together, before we head off to follow the rabbit trails of the day’s learning and activities.

    My kids call this time “morning meeting” like they’re prepping to join the ranks of corporate America or something (I have no idea how this happened), but it is THE anchor of our day that brings unity and sanity to this mama. Our time is always changing up, but typically it includes: 

    Prayer and Devotional Reading

    Questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism or work memorizing and reciting a creed or prayer

    A poem, tale or seasonal picture book (often the older children do the reading)

    Memory Work for the week

    Phonics Cards (the olders quiz the younger)

    Math Drills

    And the following on various days of the week:

    Monday: Art Appreciation and Picture Talks

    Tuesday: Poetry

    Wednesday: Music or Composer Study

    Thursday: Manners and Habits

    Friday: Singing the hymn of the month

    This all usually takes us about 30-45 minutes, although sometimes we let it draw out longer if we are having a good discussion or want to keep learning about an artist or composer or read more poems. Some days its shorter if we have other priorities, I’m not prepared, or we have outings that day. But, ultimately our circle time is like the bell at school- its a clear marker in our day that communicates to my children that its time to focus and engage in our lessons and it sets the tone for what will follow. It really is the best part of our day!

    Kendra has since become a sweet blogging friend and has recently launched an ebook about Circle Time that she is graciously sharing with one of you! Her insights and ideas for how to build a Circle Time that works for your family is invaluable. You can see what Circle Time is all about, how to create one of your own and check out links to some great resources you might want to throw into yours here (amazing!). You can also enter to win the ebook packed with even more awesome using the rafflecopter below. 

    If you homeschool, how do your mornings look? How do you begin your days? What’s really working…and what isn’t so much? Are your kids as crazy as mine? (Bonus points for answering yes to that last one)

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

     

     



    Sunday
    Mar032013

    Welcome to Lovely {and a give away!}

    “Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.”- G.K. Chesterson

    New York is lovely.

    Central Park is absolutely stunning, the architecture that I take in at the most ordinary moments sometimes steals my breath. There is simply nothing to compare to the aesthetic of Manhattan. I adore it.

    One of my first and favorite outings when we moved here was to Turtle Pond. Midway between the Upper West and Upper East sides, its a sweet spot to feed the ducks, let the kids roam free and take in the occasional treat from the ice cream or waffle cart. The pond is filled with turtles and the best way to view them is from one of the lookouts at Belvedere Castle, perched right above the pond.

    The first time we visited, I was struck by the stone everywhere in the interior- where were the bedrooms? Had everything been stripped so bare? I asked a gentleman at the visitor center about who had lived in the castle and he told me about its history: the castle had been built for the people of New York, as a conservatory and lookout. I was floored. The castle itself is so ornate, so thoughtful…it became so meaningful to me to consider that others would create something so beautiful for the benefit of future generations and not just for themselves.

    The more I thought about it, the more I realized- Belvedere Castle is only just the beginning. Rockefellar Center, Central Park itself and countless buildings dotting the skyline hold the same type of character. Even Grand Central Station, a place that could get by with being a plain enterance to and from train and subway cars is a delight. The celing is the loveliest seafoam green with zodiac signs and stars that truly glimmer high above.

    Individuals in New York’s past loved her, built into her- not just what was necessary, but something what was lasting, that would permenantly transform the landscape of this city. 

    What would happen if where ever we all lived, in the giving of our time, our money, our resources of talents and personality, we each poured into the cities and towns and countrysides we inhabit in the same way? How can we build and beautify and resotre the areas where we live?

    For however long our family calls New York home, when we leave, I want to know, want my kids to know- that we have done somthing to invest here, that our presence  has in some way transformed the landscape of this city in a way that is lasting. 

    That’s really what this whole blog is about. We love, and the city we love becomes even more lovely. We invest and roots begin to form. We collect feathers, one at a time until we have a handful of hope and beauty found.

    Thank you for joining me as I share our journey here. I’m so honored to have you along as I re-launch the story of our adventures. And because today is all about loveliness- here’s a bit for you!

    I’m giving away 2 monogrammed mugs from my favorite store on the planet, the place that makes my heart sing and where all my convictions about consumerism are lost forever…Anthropologie!

    Would you share with me too? What do you find lovely? Has it always been so, or did it take a bit of care to become wonderful first?

    You can enter to win through the rafflecopter below and the winners can choose which letter to have monogrammed on their delicious mugs!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway  

     
    A Big apology to anyone who previously left comments on this post - there was slight issue with my commenting system yesterday and they were wiped clean. So sorry!

    Saturday
    Feb232013

    I'm Feathering A New Nest! Save the Date and Join Me?