appendix vo. 5

This week went by so quickly. Honestly, they all do. I can’t remember the last time I said, “Is it Friday yet?!” because it just doesn’t happen. I find that the older my girls get, the faster the days, weeks, months escape me.

Here are a few things that caught my eye this week.

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  • 300 year old UNOPENED letters found in the Netherlands? Sign me up. Bonus: they used technology to open them without actually opening them.

  • My good friend Brad wrote this piece in response to the current proliferation/misunderstanding of the term “Christian nationalism”. It’s worth reading and thinking about.

  • I’m a bit of an anglophile. Winston Churchill is one of my favorite historical figures to study, and I have a fascination with almost all things British (except Harry and Meghan. They exhaust me.) Where did “Keep Calm and Carry On” come from? This video explains. And while we are on the topic…..the next time I’m in the UK, I will for sure be visiting Barter Books. Their website is horrible, which I adore, because it signals they have no time to dedicate to web marketing. They are actually running their bookstore and thinking about books all the time! These are my people.

  • Is there a term for a person who has a coffee table but the entire thing is used as a vertical book shelf? Because that’s happening over here. Books as coffee tables, doorstops, arm rests, decoration, foot rests. Books everywhere. And we love it.

Evidence:

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It’s a short list, but it’s good. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Rachel

radiant.

Her braces came off yesterday and she aged a few years in the span of an hour. That’s really all I came here to share. Isn’t she radiant? I love her so.

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I mean, there’s so much else to I want to write about. I have thoughts on…

Dr. Suess

a trunk of 300 year old unopened letters, found in the Netherlands

the botched closing/opening of schools in America

the best thing I bought in 2020

replacing a college savings account with a home library

But, I have a roast to make.

To be honest, It’s been a long time since I’ve had to create an effective routine for writing on a blog. It’s not often it’s quiet in our home, and when it is everyone is in bed and I’m falling asleep on the keyboard. Carving out quiet time during the day has not been something I’ve excelled at in the past 8 years of homeschooling, but I hope to find some pockets of silence so I can work out everything that is swirling about in my head.

Gotta go. Polly needs a vitamin.

13

My eldest, Kensington, turned 13 today.

I have moments of sadness about this and other moments that skate by unbothered because Kensington is the type of kid that came out of the womb feeling much older than she actually was. There are plenty of times in the last few months when I’ve said to Sean, “I can’t believe she’s going to be a teenager,” to which he replied, “I can. I feel like she’s been 20 for 10 years now.”

She’s always been a bit more mature than she ought to be. Not in a bad way, but in a, “were you ever a child?” way. We tease that she’s an old soul and a bit like your favorite granny – she fancies an evening on the couch by the fire….reading or watching a British baking show. Likely with a plate of something delicious and a cat not too far away.

She’s the best type of old soul. She’s innocent and true and she laughs loudly and doesn’t care what anyone says about her ratty socks or oversized sweatshirt. Not in an aloof way, but in the way that we all hope to be. In a self-assured way. In a way where you’re certain she is settled into who she is and who she might become.

She turned 13 today and I feel melancholy. Not because I feel old – I don’t – but because I feel young and I yet I know I’m getting older and if the past 20 years are any indicator, time is going to continue flying by. I don’t want it to. I’m so happy for where I am. With who I am with. Doing what I am doing. I don’t want the years to fly by and for it to be over suddenly.

But, of course, I can’t do anything about that and I know that all the words in the world won’t change the fact that time is coming for me.

As quickly as she turned 13 (and it was a blink of an eye) she will turn 30. She will turn 50. I will continue to get older and the wrinkles will continue to appear. Sean will continue growing grey. We will both continue to moan about aching bones.

I met Sean when I was one year older than Kensington is now. It’s almost been 26 years since I met him and while that’s a common story for so many who have gone before us, it’s still a marvel to me. It’s such a good story and such a good life and she’s such a good kid.

She’s 13. It’s been a beautiful gift being her parents for this really quick roller coaster ride. If I could slow down the clock for the next few years I would, but I can’t.

So I’ll just hang on and enjoy the ride while it lasts.

appendix vo. 4

This week, for the first time in what felt like forever, we could see the roads and the sun came out. Of course, that’s hyperbole. It’s only been about a month or so that we’ve had consistently gloomy, rainy, snowy weather. I actually love the gloom and generally I’m happiest when it’s raining. However, in the last year the sunshine and breeze have been an antiseptic for all that ails. On Wednesday of this week, it hit 63 degrees, the snow was finally melted, and we went for a walk. We had gone on snowy treks, done some sledding, and romped through our woods in the past few months, but this felt revolutionary. I think I stopped a half dozen times and shouted to the girls, “DOESN’T THIS FEEL AMAZING?!” as the breeze lifted the hair off my shoulders. They looked at me and laughed, but I know they got it. It *did* feel amazing.

When you have seasons that truly differ from each others, you are able to re-fall in love with their emergence each year. The snow makes you die for the blooms of spring and the hot summer humidity makes you die for the snow. It’s a recycled yearning each year. Our friend Jake was talking the other day about how he doesn’t want to wish away any season too quickly. He said, “I want to get so sick of winter that I’m even more excited about spring and summer.” I agree. Don’t wish it away – sit in it, enjoy it, be angry at it a little, go back to loving it. It will be over soon and you will wish for some of it back. It will make you love what’s coming even more.

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I wish I had a long list of interesting things to share this week, but we were knee deep in schoolwork the past few days and I didn’t do as much data collection. I will share one piece of news-worthy information.

Our friend Ryan had his book, “When Harry Became Sally” (written 3 years ago) pulled from Amazon (and their platforms including Audible/Kindle) this week. This book discusses the rise in popularity of the transgender movement in our country. It does so with grace, compassion, integrity, and scholarly data. Of course, that is not enough to ward off the powers of the censorship gods, and Amazon has yet to give any explanation to Ryan or his publishers as to why it is no longer available. You can find a great summary of what’s happening here.

I’ve held off writing about my strongly-held political and cultural beliefs on this blog (primarily because time is limited and it’s hard to write long-form about these topics with two kiddos asking me for help on their math homework) but the cultural moment we are in is fraught and we simply can’t fall asleep at the wheel. I hope to write more on this in the future.

In the meantime, please consider buying a copy of Ryan’s book directly from the publisher or from Barnes and Noble. It’s an important read and for believers, I think the issues of gender and sexual identity are ones that we need to be especially aware of and educated about – both pertaining to what the culture is saying and what the Lord declares.

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I hope you have a restful weekend. My eldest daughter turns 13 tomorrow and I’m still trying to work out how I feel about having a teenager. It’s beautiful and a bit heartbreaking.

Rachel

remember Christian soul

Sean found this short passage while reading one evening. As he shared the words, I knew that if our family committed them to memory, it would be a treasure that each of us would carry forever. A simple, yet powerful reminder of our duty as believers.

We recite it each morning before any toast or bacon is consumed and most of the time I feel the tears surfacing before the last line is uttered. It will never get old and will forever be etched on my heart. A clarion call.

Remember Christian Soul
That today and every day you have
God to glorify.
Jesus to imitate.
Salvation to work out with fear and trembling.
A body to use rightly.
Sins to repent.
Virtues to acquire.
Hell to avoid.
Heaven to gain.
Eternity to hold in mind.
Time to profit by.
Neighbors to serve.
The world to enjoy.
Creation to use rightly.
Slights to endure patiently.
Kindnesses to offer willingly.
Justice to strive for.
Temptations to overcome.
Death perhaps to suffer.
In all things, God’s love to sustain you.

St. Augustine of Hippo

appendix vo.3

Another week has gone by? How is that possible? I’ve heard so many people say that they feel this past year has dragged, but I feel like it’s gone by in a flash. The kids are taller, the animals are bigger, my joints are achy-er, and I feel like summer just ended. At any rate, the weekend is upon us again and here are a few things I wanted to share.

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  • For anyone who has posed for a photo in a red phone booth in the UK…..this one of for you. Nostalgia and relics of the past make my heart the warmest. They also make me the most melancholy due to their inevitable vanishing.
  • If you’re like me, you want your children to be aware of the news of the world without tuning into the rancor and extremely biased journalism found on most networks. We’ve been apologists for WORLD News Group for years and have thoroughly enjoyed their most recent creation: WORLD Watch. Daily news from a Biblical worldview. We watch their 10-minute daily video with breakfast each morning (targeted towards kids) and our girls absolutely love it – great information presented by kind journalists. Well worth the yearly subscription.
  • I simply can not explain to you how badly I want one of these. I am not a crafty gal by nature, but I might make time to work on this. Now to pick a book theme to create. The wardrobe peering into Narnia? Or maybe a window gaze into Kathleen Kelly’s bookshop?
  • If I knew you wouldn’t think me too macabre, I’d confide in you that I have a slight interest in real-life CSI and the people who work within its scope. Couple that with an adoration for all things miniature and you have the story of the formidable Frances Glessner Lee. If you don’t know about her, start here. I’d also recommend this podcast episode. Lee was a woman who took murder investigations to a new level by creating miniature crime scenes in order for officers to hone their skills. She completely revolutionized the field of forensics. You can take it a step further and order this book which details her life story alongside beautiful photos of her work. I had long wanted it and my mother surprised me on my 40th birthday. Like I said, don’t judge me too harshly.
  • This short documentary on the life of Thomas Sowell is a great watch. If you love him, you’ll love him more. If you don’t already know about him, you’ll quickly become a fan.
  • I’d be remised if I didn’t mention the weather situation happening all over our country. We’ve had temperatures as low as -6 since we have moved to Virginia (and it was only that bad one day) and the thought of being without heat, water, propane, food during those times is hard to conceptualize. If you have ability to do so, please head here and give. Let’s keep all of these people in our prayers each and every day.

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It’s gloomy here and the fire is lit. We have no plans tomorrow and even if we did, we likely couldn’t make it, seeing as today’s sun didn’t shine long enough to defrost the ice layer on our property. I’m hoping to get my weekly homeschool plans finished in the morning and spend a few hours working on a family project which I’m hoping to share with you next week. Happy Weekend, everyone!

Rachel

sleet + Bunyan

There are books that change your life all at one time and there are books that change it incrementally and consistently. Each time you pick it up, something new is revealed. Better still is when the revelation sickens you because it displays your own inadequacies, mistakes, depravity, weakness, and ultimately your need for salvation.

I have found many books to be life-changing, both in small and large ways. I’ve only found a handful of books that, when opened every couple years, make a refreshed but just-as-powerful impact. These books are treasures which I am deeply grateful for.

This morning our farm welcomed freezing temperatures and a disappointing forecast. We were told we would find ourselves under 6 – 10 inches of snow, and yet we watched ice and sleet pour down heavily – making our porches (and driveway) veritable ice skating rinks. We had sledding planned but inside we stayed. And what a perfect day to light a fire (I tend to think *any* day is a perfect day for a fire, come to think of it,) and read. Truth be told, most of our days are spent reading, but within the last year, reading has become an even more cherished and regular activity. We already had reading as a central tenant of our educational philosophy, but somehow it became even more (to borrow a word from the current cultural lexicon) “essential.”

The world is rotting. I’m not a pessimist, I promise. It is. As Christians, we know that Earth is wasting away, but there are times and seasons when it seems to be in a more acute state of decline. We are in one of these times. We have been for quite awhile. I remember having similar feelings in 2010 but I ushered them to their own mental compartment – I had a toddler and a newborn and we had just bought a new home. It was easy to ignore my sinking feelings. But, here I am again…..and the feelings has been rushing back in the last two years or so. There is a level of decay in our culture, our families, our government, our schools, our communities, that is unlike anything in our history and that stays with me. Most importantly, because my husband and I have the task of raising and guiding three precious daughters. We desire them to choose truth over evil, and the Lord over worldly desires. I’m not sure I can explain the burden on my heart when I think of how immense that task and responsibility is. And so, it makes it all the more important to surround them with the good, the true, and the beautiful – always guiding them back to Him and His promises. Even if the world stayed in its current state when my little birds are leaving the nest, they’d have the cards stacked against them. We all know that things will have darkened even further in the next decade…..and so, I pray. I pray, use just about every moment to build up their character through the words of the Savior, and…..read.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned the wonder of books that will walk alongside you time after time after time. Recently I began one of these books with the girls. If I’m honest, I wondered if it might disappoint me by not “making sense” to my girls as much as I’d like it to. I was nervous some of the rich symbolism might fly straight over their heads. Perhaps they wouldn’t see how powerful the allegorical prose truly is. I would have finally found a season when this book didn’t work its magic.

I was, of course, wrong.

It’s hard to put into words how books make us feel, but if I could commend a book to you, at this present moment, it would be, without equivocation, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. The story of “Christian” and his journey toward the “Celestial City” is all of us. I dare you to read it and not see yourself on almost every single page.

It is a most worthy book and one that I know will grab you by the throat and heart – it will make you feel, and lament, and recognize yourself. Although written in 1678, all still holds true. This, of course, shouldn’t be surprising as nothing is new under the sun. And yet, I’m amazed at the accuracy Bunyan managed. He pinpoints the sinful vices and roadblocks that ensnare the believer so perfectly. It makes sense that it has never gone out of print.

This is likely the shortest/least professional book recommendation you’ll ever read, because that wasn’t really my intent with this post. I was just staring out the window, watching sleet pouring off our roof, and thought….”There’s got to be other Christians out there that haven’t read this book. I want them to read it.”

And so here I am.

In a dark time like the one we are living in…..Christ first. Always.

And then books.

Books to inform, books to challenge, books to laugh, books to comfort, books to find beauty when the world feels ugly.

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Edited to add: If you have younger children, or you just want a softer/shorter introduction to this wonderful story, I would start here. It’s illustrations are lovely and it is as close to perfect as a re-telling can be.

the beginning

Today begins the season of Lent. While this isn’t a Lenten prayer but rather one of general thanksgiving, it’s beauty struck me while reciting it last Sunday.

For anyone who partakes in the next 40 days as a time of repentance and remembrance, I wish you peace, clarity, and overwhelming gratitude. God is indeed gracious to us all.

The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer: A General Thanksgiving.

“Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we, thine unworthy servants, do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and lovingkindness to us, and to all men. We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful; and that we show forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

appendix vo.2 (already?)

As it pertains to blogging, clearly I’m still acquiring my sea legs. Wasn’t I just typing out last week’s appendix? I believe I’m supposed to write things in between? My only defense is that this week flew by and we had two small snow storms – leaving my house covered in gloves and boots. Plans shifted, things were cancelled, and schooling had to get done.

So, here we are. I hope to write in the following weeks at a more consistent quip. I have so many things on my mind (My adventures documenting my ancestral line! Politics! A highly recommended television show! A must-read book! Thoughts on motherhood and my first-born turning 13!,) but the older I get, the slower the processor in my brain moves and by the time I sit down with laptop shining…the ideas can often seem overwhelming and the words evaporate. I’m told this is a bi-product of aging. I choose to ignore that idea altogether.

At any rate, here are a few things that I’ve enjoyed this week that I thought you might as well.

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  • Norman Rockwell is one of my favorite modern artists. This look into his creative process was fascinating.

  • One of Kensington’s vocabulary words this week was, “laconic” which worked perfectly when our friend (and her professor of Ancient Western Civ in our homeschool co-op) was teaching about a famous correspondence sent from Philip of Macedon to Sparta. King Philip had overtaken southern Greece and had his eye on other key city-states, so he warned Sparta of his intentions: “You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city.

    To which the Spartan ephors simply responded: “If.” If that’s not a reminder of how, often times, less words can actually be “more”….I don’t know what is.

  • Another intriguing story of once-lost and now-found film. These types of stories will never grow old to me. Make sure you visit the original website as well – I continue to hope for resolution for this mystery.
  • 45 hours of Jane Austen. This is on constant rotation in our home – Kensington loves listening while she bakes. It’s such a great recording.
  • A few of you have messaged and asked how “Barn Cat” is doing and I’m happy to report that he’s still living the high-life. Here he is in all his lazy glory:

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I’m off to start school and order take out for dinner – it’s Chinese New Year and we are celebrating! I promise to pop in more routinely in the upcoming days! Happy Weekend, everyone!

Rachel

the appendix vo.1

I have a feeling that as much as I enjoy typing out daily thoughts or considerations, it will be the weekly “appendix” that will end up being the most fun to curate for you. The purpose of “The Appendix” is to share a list, every Friday, providing you interesting internet destinations to consider traveling to. My hope is that they will enlighten you about fascinating books, articles, film, opinions, artwork, and much more.

A reward for a week completed and a prologue for the week to come. I hope you discover something intriguing.

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  • I was sad to hear of the passing of Christopher Plummer. He was one of the greats and this scene will always be a favorite. It might be a good weekend to watch, “The Sound of Music,” don’t you agree?
  • As a self-proclaimed, “cheese-enthusiast”, I’m always on the lookout for good recipes to use on evenings we prepare a charcuterie for dinner (best dinner ever, if I’m honest.) This recipe caught my eye and is on our menu for the upcoming week.
  • If you’re anything like Sean and I, you desire to find television and film that can be enjoyed by the entire family but isn’t completely saturated with an agenda. In the last few weeks we found a television show that all five of our family members fell in love with – yes, all five. I love it so much that I think I’ll devote an entire post to it next week. It’s that good. In the meantime, if we want to settle in for a few moments of good ol’ fashioned down-time in front of the big screen, we have been joyfully devouring episodes of this. Julia Child is a sheer delight. She jauntily bangs pot and pans, tosses trash off her counter with wild abandon, makes filleting a fish look like a breeze, and honestly makes you believe that you can boil a 20 pound lobster. It’s way more informative and enjoyable than anything on the FoodNetwork, I promise.
  • The kids (and you!) will love this. The size of a sunflower seed!
  • Doing the daily crossword puzzle in the WSJ sent me down a rabbit hole of research about how and when they started being regularly published in America. No surprise, they started growing in popularity during WW2. Head here to learn more.
  • When I saw the headline and read the article, I could feel my heart pounding. I’ve been collecting vintage and antique photography and ephemera for over a decade and finding something like this is a complete dream come true. Can you even imagine?!
  • This conversation was on my mind all yesterday.
  • Currently reading this. My all-time favorite time period to study is WW2, so it fits the bill and is an easy book to get through, providing plenty of perspective for those of us feeling rather melancholy over the current state of affairs. (you can head here for other book lists)

Quote of the week:

“If he who desires to have before his eyes a true picture of the events which have happened and of the like events which may be expected to happen hereafter in the order of human things shall pronounce what I have written to be useful then I shall be satisfied. My history is an everlasting possession, not a prize composition which is heard and forgotten.” –Thucydides

And on the heels of that quote, I submit this video. Sasse gets it.

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And with that, I’m off to get gussied up – Sean and I are meeting friends in town for dinner and I need to change out of the COVID uniform (read: leggings and an oversized sweatshirt.)

I hope you all enjoyed this first volume of “The Appendix” and have a fantastic and peaceful weekend.

Rachel