journal pages

Saturday 2/23/13  I typically take pictures first, and add words last.  The pictures are my favorite part and sometimes I really struggle to say anything.  But this weekend, I haven’t taken a single photo yet, or in days for that matter.  So it’s words first, and pictures second.  I spent Saturday cleaning bathrooms, working the laundry, and doing paperwork.  Specifically, I did taxes.  And for some reason I am so elated to have them done that I just had to sit down and write about it.  I think my elation is more than that though.  Last week was sort of a bummer week.  We learned that the house we were hoping to buy in the next few months has been taken off the market for the time being.  It took me a few days to adjust (poor Jonny still hasn’t) but now I am more hopeful and excited than ever.  We really needed more time and now we have it.  I still believe that we may end up in that house.  In the meantime, I’ve had a fresh burst of creative housekeeping energy.  It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this way.  I’ve been sort of down on our living arrangements all together lately.  But, now that I know we are in this house for awhile longer, I am motivated to keep doing my best to make it work.  I know everything looks quaint and fun and wonderful in pictures, and yes, we do have a lot of fun, but living in what is technically a one (maybe two) bedroom house with six children is often a challenge that I don’t feel like I can manage gracefully anymore.  Sleep and privacy are two big issues.  But, I am working on my attitude and accepting where we are.  We are very blessed in many ways, and I am well aware of that.

I hung a little thrift store painting on the bathroom wall tonight, and for some reason I was so thrilled with it, that my negative feelings about mess and dirt were overshadowed.  Seriously, I felt almost manic in my happiness, and it’s just a little painting.  Maybe I need to focus on adding something pretty at those times when I am feeling discouraged because I can’t seem to tame the mess and the chaos.

Sunday 2/24/13  When I woke up this morning, the big kids were gone.  They left without even eating breakfast.  I asked Jonny where they were, and he directed me to the woods.  I put on boots with my pajamas, grabbed my camera, and went looking for them.  The bacon was getting cold.  I found them at the little sandy creek that runs through the woods behind our house.  They had dammed it up and were floating homemade boats.  When I was a little girl, I built many a dam in the creeks on Lookout Mountain where my dad lived, always hoping for a swimming hole, but making do with the mid calf pools that resulted.  My brother and sisters and I would play for hours before breaking up our dams and heading home.  I’m so glad that my kids have the opportunity to do the same.


  1. Thank you for this perspective. I am catching up on your feed and dealing with house dreams gone awry, too, and this is perfectly timed. Seven people, small house that is just never clean, no privacy…but ten acres of woods and pasture. The children simply love it here, but since we live north, it is difficult to appreciate the outdoors from Nov – March. If we lived somewhere warmer, I think we might never move. But no matter the “ifs,” contentment is in the heart, and I need to go hang something pretty in my bathroom. 🙂

  2. i sorta swooned when i saw that wee painting in your bathroom. i like small touches like that and if it’s any consolation, they always make me much happier than they should. the smaller the touch, the more i’m elated.

    and as a family of seven in a teensy tiny cottage with one bathroom, i feel your pain. on the good days (most days) i’m thankful for the fact i can always hear them at play and marvel at their creativity. on the bad days i dream about checking into hotel, sprawling in the middle of a king sized bed and just reading, surrounded by quiet.

  3. Oh, friend, I hear you about space and the number of people within your walls. However much you love them, and perhaps especially in the middle of what I think might be the longest February on record, it can at times … well, it can be overwhelming.

    I love your attitude and the grace you give yourself 🙂 I could probably do a little of that, myself.

    Here’s to floating boats and new perspectives!

  4. It sounds like you are moving into an exciting time. It is heartbreaking that you can’t move on the process of selling and buying your property as quickly as you wanted. It is nice to see you are embracing this new change and ready to embrace it. But I truly think that these thing happen for a purpose. Just think of all the time you have at your fingertips. You can relax (knowing your new home is safe from other potential buyers) and are able to go through your things and move/pack the things that matter most. And you can get your existing home ready to show–if that is the route you chose to go–It is wonderful you have extra time to do these things. Building dams sounds like a nice way to spend a morning—I wish my boys were able to do such things.

  5. We went to the accountant and had our taxes done last weekend. It is a relief to have them done. Then after I received the forms back I completed my youngest sons FAFSA online forms for college. WOO HOO! That gives me even greater relief 🙂

    Have a beautiful day! Love the pictures.

  6. love your fairy tale photos. and the painting in the bathroom, i do that same thing. love that kind of happiness. i just brought home a similar thrift store snowy mountain painting.

  7. I finished our taxes on Friday and it was like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one. I love submiting that paperwork both for the refund that is soon headed this way and for the sense of grown-up-edness that always settles in after such a task.

    Our kids played on their new, built by them, ice rink this weekend and I know just how you feel. This is the life I wanted for them. This is what all the work and planning was for. Space and siblings and time, what beautiful gifts they are.

  8. I live in a tiny one (maybe one and a half) bedroom house with four kids.
    We have a small block and a wee backyard. We cram in as much as we can without making it too cluttered. I spend my *entire* day picking things up and tidying away.
    I don’t know how you do it with 6!
    You are so lucky to have all that outside space for your kids.

    • Yes, I could spend my entire day, every day doing the same. I’ve learned to accept the mess so that I can do something other than clean sometimes! and- yes, we are very, very blessed to live in the location that we do and have so much access to the outdoors.

  9. I hear you about the mess and chaos, I have just sat down after doing jobs around the house all morning, and it looks as if I have done nothing. xx

  10. I love your blog…There is so much to love; I’m a native Virginian, have lived in the same area you’re in,have been educating at home for years and you just feel like home.
    My husband and I had a dream of living in the country and building our own home. There is a huge testimony about what God did and it would fill a book-but just know you are doing so good! We had five children in a two bedroom trailer (that was a hunting shack originally) and some days were hilarious and some were hideous.But God is faithful…we live in a huge house that was built by us, in the country, in Virginia. It’s a dream come true…yours will too. Love.

  11. The pictures of the kids are precious and peaceful. As far as I can tell, the only mud is on the boots?? Amazing!

  12. Hey Ginny, maybe the big boys would enjoy making a bedroom out of a really sturdy big canvas tent for a while, to free up some of the indoor space. You could read them Arthur Ransome’s Swallowdale to enthuse them for the project. 🙂

  13. I grew up building dams in the creek that ran through our property, too! We always hoped to build them strong enough to create a swimming hole. Having time, space to play, and siblings to play with is such a huge childhood blessing!

  14. Pray hard and ask to get the house God intends for you, and you’ll be amazed by how doors open for you! This has happened to us twice now, and I always asked God to throw a stumbling block in our way if we were not meant to have it.

    I am so longing for our house in KY to be done, and everything moves so slowly with Bret trying to build it when he’s not at the cabinet shop! I’ve lost all enthusiasm for doing anything in our current house…

    My boys recently built a little dam in a stream near out house. Seems like good kid stuff to me!

  15. Hugs, friend. I know that feeling all too well. RIght now my little family of five is living in a one bedroom apartment while we are in VA. It is fine most of the time, but there is nowhere to go. No yard to run around in; no place to have a moment. It is starting to get to my husband and the kiddos. This morning we even had a talk and decided a family mtg was in order. He worries about the bickering and inattentiveness. I think it is just being so close and being adrift for almost a year. I am glad you found a bit of happiness amid the stress. Sometimes changing one’s focus can work wonders. Whenever I start to get frustrated that we are still far from our dream of owning land and moving, I try to see all the amazing things that surround my days. Love, love, love that they have that little creek. Who cares about cold bacon when there is so much fun to be had!

  16. I love the idea of adding something beautiful when we are feeling down and frustrated. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Ginny, I know the feeling of needing….more…..SPACE!
    I just know that you are going to find yourself in a house that was meant for you, sometime.
    12 years ago, we had to find a house to live in. I was pregnant and very sick, and I had no energy and was depressed. Purely by chance, we passed by a brick ranch in front of a huge mountain and a creek. And it was for sale. I knew, absolutely knew, that was our house. And it was, within just a couple weeks. Weeks later, still very pregnant and very sick and depressed, my husband walked with me to the creek and said, “Here’s Tinker Creek.” I couldn’t believe it. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard is one of my favorite books. I had no idea that our creek was the same Tinker Creek. I definitely had a ray of hope enter my heart at that moment. I remained pregnant, sick and depressed for a few more months after that, but I knew I’d been given a gift, that someday “this too will pass” and in the meantime, I just KNEW I was in the right place and that good things were ahead. And the hard time passed, and the good things came. And I am certain that a similar “right place” is going to appear, for you and your family… thanks for letting me share.
    P.S. I’ve been to Lookout Mountain in Georgia many times, my cousins live near there in Chattanooga. 🙂

  18. We raised our children in a two bedroom house and now that they’re grown we have four bedrooms. God does have a sense of humor doesn’t He? We do fill them up when everyone comes to visit. We have air mattresses all over and kids sleeping on the sofa, etc. Your home is full of love. We can see it in every picture you post. I know that’s empty thoughts when you’re having “one of those days”, but as my Mom used to tell me, “this too shall pass” and indeed it did. Now I would love to have that little two bedroom house full of my children once again.
    We also did our taxes on Saturday and it’s quite a relief to have them done and over with for another year!

  19. What a great opportunity indeed.

  20. i’ve had those moments, when i plan falls thru. you deal with the disappointment and you suddenly get this burst of energy to make what you have work.
    love all the pix of the kids. how nice to have a creek right in your own back yard.

  21. Thank you for this post. We also had plans of moving our family of eight fron our 1000 aq ft hoyae which fell through. But in giving into acceptance I am finding many ways of making this little house a home. Shelves,paint, rearranging rooms, the list goes on. But in the end we’ll have a place that is home. Our dreams will come. But for now we will live in the moments of joy and gratitude of what we have.

  22. Wonderful days, Ginny. Lookout Mountain… Georgia or Tenn? We visited there one summer and I loved it. Such beautiful lands!

  23. Something about the end of winter can really make you feel like the walls are closing in, yes? We’ve been snowed in for the past few days, and it was like the dustbunnies were breeding.

  24. Beautiful, Ginny!

    I can totally relate to your sleeping/privacy situation: we only have three children (and a dog: does he count as the fourth?) and three bedrooms but we would very much like our beautiful 3-year old out of our bedroom…most nights 😉 I too constantly see the countless things we are blessed with but our house situation is complicated and requires a lot of patience. We’re learning to be patient. It’s good for the soul, I hear.

    Is that a Boden coat I see? My daughter has the same in a dusky violet colour. Lovely and durable.

    Enjoy your burst of spring-cleaning fervour: that’s what it is, right?

  25. this was such a genuine, sweet post. I loved it. I think that is just the thing sometimes to get you out of a funk, sprucing spaces up with special finds. 🙂

  26. Those were wonderful days building dams and streams and boats and all forgetting the day. And breakfast.
    More important than a big house, no?

  27. Oh Ginny, I just thought of this great article. It has blessed me tremendously this past year and a half. Maybe it might bless you as well.

  28. Yes, if the house is meant to be, then it will happen. Maybe God has something even better in mind! I have to tackle our taxes this week, and I’ve been dreading it. Maybe I’ll tackle it first thing today! Love the idea of adding something beautiful to the house when you’re feeling overwhelmed!

  29. Oh Ginny, the waiting game is so, so hard! I feel for you. Been there, several times. Even now. Keep plugging along. You are in the loving palm of His hands! He is the Provider. Lenten Blessings!

  30. Three years ago, I was you. 7 children in a 1000 sqft house, we had turned the living room into a ‘dorm’ and there was also no privacy. Every house we liked was bought so quickly (in the realty bust) that we were thinking of somehow marketing ourselves as good luck charms. After 3 years we found a perfect house and the owner was contentious to say the least. But I, like you, believed that THIS was our house, and now it is. I love this house so much that had I millions, I wouldn’t move. I love it more each year we’re here. I pray the same for you! But also, still keeping that contentment is key. I know, it’s so hard! You’ll be in my prayers.

  31. Dear Ginny,
    Last Fall we found a house we thought it had everything we were looking for: a nice street on a good location, an huge backyard by our urban standards (great for my dream garden and for my boy to play in), with space enough for a parking spot, a wonderful solar exposition… Of course the house was a wreck, and major work was needed. The house was in the market for more than two years. We thought we might take a couple of weeks to decide… But when my husband called to get a second look, the real estate agent said it had been already sold.
    Fast forward a couple of months: we found yet another house in the same street. A smaller lot, and the house in it was in such a bad shape we would have to build a new one. My husbad had a meeting with the owner to discuss some aspects of the lot that might be corrected. Everything was going pretty well, until we got a call saying the owner would need a few more “days” because there was another option for that space. Two weeks ago we passed by the house, and it didn’t have the sale sign anymore. Sigh.

    That same day the real estate agent caled us. Apparently it had been some questions with the buyers of that first house and they were no longer able to buy it. Did we want to take a second look and maybe make an offer?
    We did. If everything goes according to plan, we sign the first contract this week and will have ownership in a couple of weeks. The house will need major work, and we’re still decinding we’ll make a small (and cheaper) intervention or if will invest and get more built area. The garden isn’t ready for planting (nor am I for gardening!) but there are some orange and lemon trees. And I’m dreaming of getting the soil ready and getting some tomatoes plants. And of a small (and shared) creative space for me.

    I hope you’ll find your house. 🙂

  32. Yes, God does have a plan Ginny and I love what you wrote about your joy of simply hanging a thrifted pictured – it is the little things, the details that can bring a burst of happiness – and sometimes it is as simple as using the gifts we have creatively.

  33. If that house is meant to be then it will happen. In the meantime enjoy that you have little square footage to keep clean 😉

  34. “Maybe I need to focus on adding something pretty at those times when I am feeling discouraged because I can’t seem to tame the mess and the chaos.” It ‘s true! Thanks!

  35. If it is the house you shared here, I do believe you will end up there. Just a feeling I had, looking at those photos & reading your words… xo

  36. what a wonderful, natural childhood your children are having. These are the sorts of things I did as a child and to some extent what my children did. So many just sit in front of the TV or PC and have no time to use their imaginations. So sad.

    Keep up the good work, and so what if your house is messy, your kids are having a ball

  37. I’m inspired by what you wrote about your home. We’re expecting our 6th and have a little tiny home, too. Sometimes it’s hard for me to be content here, but I try to remind myself that our modern notions of what a home should be (McMansion!) is a fairly recent invention. Thanks for inspiring me, as always!

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