5 Days to a More Peaceful Advent :: Clutter

Advent comes early this year.  Over the next week I’ll share approachable ways to meet the season with grace.  Day 1: Cutting Clutter

peaceful advent

The bad news first: if your days are generally overfull, preparing for the Christmas season is not going to help.  This is a great time to practice saying no.  And really, the most important word in that sentence is practice.  But listen to the good news.  Living the church year with your family isn’t a test you take, it’s a path you walk.  Here are a few ways to clear a little space before the crush of parties and presents hits.

  • Schedule–Try to scale back your everyday responsibilities.  Simple meals, simple routines, fewer outside obligations.  There are all kinds of good things that we want to add into our days, but rushing from place to place makes it nearly impossible to enjoy them.
  • Place–This week is a great time to take a laundry basket from room to room and fill it up with things you don’t need anymore.  Our interests shift; our children grow and change.  It’s okay to let things go.  Put the bags in the back of the car to donate, and give thanks for such abundance.
  • Clean–After you’ve cleared a bit of the physical clutter, you might consider spending a little time establishing a cleaning routine.  I really like getting an assignment each day from Apartment Therapy.  Clean Mama also has a simple weekly routine.  You will see marked progress in even 15 minutes a few times a week spent working on hot spots and high traffic areas.
  • Expectations–There is no other holiday bound with such unrealistic expectations as Christmas.  Events to plan, gifts to buy, experiences to curate.  When we let go of some of the pressure to makes things perfect, we take the first steps to opening ourselves to the wonder of Advent.

Sweet Boys

Our midwives said that worry is the work of pregnancy.  When I was pregnant with Nicolas, I worried that he would never get to be the first and only child.  His experience of life in our family would always be a competition for divided attention.  The midwives smiled and reminded me that the baby wouldn’t just have our love and attention, he would have Mabel’s too.  The love wasn’t dividing; it was multiplying.

Yesterday, Nicolas was sitting in a chair reading The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki.  Joseph decided to try and climb up to join him even though there was only room for 1 in the chair.  I asked Nico if he would go sit on the couch so that Joseph could sit next to him and look at the book too.  He was happy to, and they spent the next little while looking at the book together.  Joseph listened as Nicolas told him the stories.

This boy has such a generous, patient heart.

GWS :: forty-seven

fire ciderI think that being really smart is the ability to live well–that is in harmony with one’s own needs and the needs of the rest of the world.  Really smart is the ability to solve problems.

I would never tell the school board this, but my goal for my own and my children’s education here at home is to get better and better at solving problems, and at meeting needs.

That is our curriculum here; those are the “basics.”  Math and reading and such are the frills.


–Andrea Kelly-Rosenberg in Growing Without Schooling Issue #45

Find more reading goodness at Wednesday With Words!

100 Storybooks

Earlier this year, author Liz Garton Scanlon spoke at a writing conference.  She challenged the writers there to read 100 storybooks in the next 6 months.  But not just read them, really learn from them.  What makes this story shine?  How do the text and pictures work together?  What elements from this book might become a part of the stories you write?

Though I don’t think I’m going to be writing a storybook anytime soon, I love this idea.  I think talking through these sorts of things might be the first step in literary analysis.  Really puzzling out how a story works is a great skill at any age.

At our house, kindergarten is a Storybook Year.  We have been reading through the ABCs of Authors and Illustrators and the ABCs of Saints.  Even though we read a lot of chapter books together, storybooks have not been in short supply.  But we’ve gotten such great ideas from some of the other authors who are keeping pinboards of their reading!


Keeping Advent Book

Have you received your copy of Keeping Advent?  Just subscribe (using the form in the sidebar) and I’ll send a copy right over!


Keeping Advent :: A Gift for You

Our to-do lists seem to get longer even as the days grow shorter.  If you are eager to meet this coming holiday season with grace and expectation, come away and spend a little time reflecting, planning, preparing.

Keeping Advent Book

After you subscribe to One Deep Drawer, I’ll send you a copy of Keeping Advent.  It’s a 20 page ebook filled with beautiful illustrations and thoughtful ideas to help breathe a little new life into your Advent celebrations.

Sabbath Rest

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.

Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee;
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.

Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise;
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

– Frances R. Havergal

A Trip to the Yurts!

Last month we traveled a little way from home and had a great big adventure.  We were celebrating our girl turning 8 and went to stay a few nights in the yurts at Champoeg, a historic townsite from the 1840s.  Even though it was rainy and cold outside, the yurts kept us dry and happy!  We went for walks along the river, built fairy houses, took a daytrip to the monastery, and even roasted cinnamon rolls over the fire!

GWS :: forty-six

Reading begins in the home.

Children acquire knowledge before coming to school that lays the foundation for reading.

The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for reading is reading aloud to children.

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–from the 1985 National Academy of Education Commision on Reading

in Growing Without Schooling Issue 45, archived here.

Our new reader (pictured above 5 years ago!) is enjoying listening to books on tape and reading along with the text in hand.  She has been doing this with D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths and Anne of Avonlea.

You can find more read aloud inspiration and ideas on Sarah’s podcast called

Read Aloud Revival.

More good quotes can be found over at Wednesday With Words at Dawn’s place.


Posted in GWS

Remembering Remembrance Day

Remembering the red paper poppies that blossomed on lapels the autumn I lived in London.

Remembering bells tolling each day at parish churches during November as the the names of parishioners who had died were read aloud.  This was not an abstract remembrance.  It was rooted in place and time.

Remember the absolute hush that washed over the busy city at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  Everything stopped.


Remembering my Shakespeare professor in London taking us out for dinner at a Korean restaurant.  When the woman came with our menus, he waved her off and began speaking to her in Korean.  He had served in the Korean War…as a code breaker.  We were totally shocked!  The woman went back to the kitchen and brought out everyone who worked there.  We smiled and looked on amazed as they talked on.  Can you imagine the meal they served us?

Remembering my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. McGrath, teaching us “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

people CCwestkort

Remembering the nubby feeling of the blanket that always covered the crippled legs of my great grandfather, Christopher Columbus West.  He got frostbite on his legs in the trenches in France during the first World War.  He always welcomed me on his lap when I got scared as the freight trains rattled past.

Thred Up!

Guess what the letter carrier delivered to my house?  Oh, yes.  A box for Mama!  I finally took the plunge and ordered something from Thred Up.  And I am so happy with the results.

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Right after Baby Joseph was born, I started to hear people talking about Thred Up.  It was usually in the context of reviewing Style Fix.  Well, the prices (and styles!) on Style Fix are a bit beyond me.  Thred Up is more my speed!  It’s an online consignment store offering used clothes at great prices.  There is a lot to choose from, and the website is easy to use.  It’s easy to limit and organize your choices.

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The jeans arrived in happy packaging, just adding to the thrill of getting something in the post.  The very best part is that Thred Up offers new customers $10 in credit.  I found the jeans that I ordered for $10.49.  So I paid $3.49 with shipping for a new pair of pants.  Those prices are better than Goodwill.  And I didn’t even have to wrestle the baby into a shopping cart!

For everyone who clicks on through to their website using this link, Thred Up will not only give YOU $10 to spend, they will also give ME $10.  Just think of it as an early Christmas present for both of us!

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