Focusing

Has anyone else had a difficult year?  I know that we have, and I am ready to leave it behind.  I want to focus on the positive.  It’s in my nature to do so.  This time last year I was in the last few weeks of a difficult pregnancy, which was followed by an extremely difficult birth and a long recovery (I’m still not physically 100%!)  There were months of postpartum depression.  Most recently, I lost one of my best friends.  Those of you who have read my words over the past year, and left yours in reply, have been a huge source of encouragement to me.  You have all been a part of helping me to move through these things.  I know that I am terrible at showing up in the comments and chatting there, but I do read them all, and I am grateful that you take the time to reach out to me.  In a perfect world I could carve out the time to interact more in the comments, but gosh, seven kids.  The food and the laundry alone…full time job.

Thankfully, I’m not depressed these days.  My days are full, but they are good.  Of course it can be difficult to raise a large family, and to homeschool so many children (five in school this year!) But, I like a challenge.  I end some days feeling like I’ve been run over, and sometimes I mentally calculate just how many years of homeschooling I still have ahead of me and feel a bit (or a lot) overwhelmed.  But usually I am able to pull myself together, sometimes with the help of some knitting, and often with the help of this blog.  Writing about the positives helps keep things in perspective for me.

So, I’ve been thinking about my blog and what I want to do here.  I like to share my hodge podge posts of photos and rambling words, and I’m not going to stop.  But, sometimes I think it’s good to be a bit more focused, and I need another challenge, right?  I would like for what I share here to benefit others as well.

So what are you struggling with?  What inspires you?  What do you most come here to read?  I want to know.

Friends and readers often remark to me that the community surrounding this blog, those of you who regularly comment, are exceptionally kind.  It’s true.  You are.  Thank you so much for your kindness and your generosity.

Comments

  1. I love the hodge podge too and hearing the stories about your family and your honesty are refreshing. Keep it all coming!

  2. Sorry to be so tardy in leaving a comment. Every day I look forward to seeing if there is an entry from you. I often think that if would be wonderful if you would compile all the entries into one big compendium. I just started reading last year and I frequently check the related posts at the bottom and read some of the posts before and after the related post to get the context. I would like to read them all from the beginning. I have been a mom for 35 years and a grandmother for 5. Keep doing what you are doing. I would miss it if it was different.

  3. yeah…this year has kind of sucked big time (we had a death in the family too – and other sucky stuff!)
    However, now God is richly blessing us (May He Bless you and your family as well!)
    I love your blog just the way it is… don’t change a thing!

  4. Dear Ginny,

    it’s true what everyone here says: don’t change !
    it’s heart-warming to find a true story of a mother, struggling as we all do.
    I remember mostly your post in which you told about a very hard situation, everyone and you especially very tired (can’t remember why exactly) and then you said that in such a situation, when you would want to lie down and sleep, or have some me-time, that you try to think: who needs me most, now, in my family. and that you then give extra attention to that person.
    it stuck me ! still does !!
    so true ! we mostly get happy by making other people happy …
    Your blog also helps me to value my faith again. it was a littlebit ‘under big big snow’ …
    And I doubted too much It always made me happy, and quiet, the church and all its beauty, the singing, the warm interest people have for one another, the organ, the stories, … so amazing.
    I found it back, and you helped me. Thanks a lot,
    and please, stay as yourself as you are !
    Nele

  5. Charlotte S says:

    I too stumbled upon your blog through my knitting and never left! You keep it real whilst being an inspiration to us fellow mother’s! And your photos are wonderful.xx

  6. Oh what a lovely spot this is…thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures- love your photography.
    Though busy your days seem full lots of love and wonder.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

  7. I love your blog and get excited when there is new post. I adore photography and am learning myself.
    Your blog is true to real life, honest and to the point. I like that. A lot of us have been where you have been, whether it was last week or myself around 35 years ago when my first was born. I wish I could have known you back then and parented more a little like you – my voice wasn’t so good either. My kids used to say “Mum, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”. Cutting off point for babies for me was 40 years, and my second came at 39.1/2 so I was very blessed indeed.
    Since my Mum passed away March 2008, I have never prayed again. I seem to have forgotten how to.
    xxx

  8. erin hellar says:

    I just love your blog.

  9. I came here by stumbling on your knitting. I stay because you make me not feel so alone with your honesty. It is so refreshing to hear someone being honest these days. I love looking at your life through your photos. I am a mom of 7 as well and we have a daughter we’ve never met through a previous relationship of my hubby’s. my life is chaotic and messy. You make me feel refreshed and want to continue to be a mom to these children God has given me. You are an inspiration.

  10. I first stumble here because I was looking for ideas in nature study(trees of Virginia). I continue to visit because of you, you are so honest , sweet, your photos are amazing, your family so beautiful. Plus you homeschool, you love gardening,…
    I think you give women a glimpse of beauty, even in the middle of sickness, sadness, tiredness… I don’t know if that helps…
    P.S. I think you would make a wonderful friend.

  11. Ha! I think of you as rather focused with regards to your entries.

    Even as a non-Catholic, non-knitting (I admit to dabbling in crochet) mother of one – I find your blog to be visually beautiful and calming antidote to the pressure to yield to a consumerist society. Your acceptance of sponsors is only given after thought. When you do mention a product, it is tasteful and appropriate. More importantly, your entries encourage me to be outside, be with family, garden, and put spiritual things first.

  12. Ginny,

    Your blog has been a great encouragement to me. This last year has been a difficult one for us, moving far from family, (twice!) in a year, followed by a very difficult post partum period for me, while caring for other little ones. To say the least I am tired. We’ve been through the hoops of trying to find out if I have thyroid issue…adrenal issue, etc. In the end, eating well and walking everyday has been the biggest help to recovering my health. We had been gluten free for a while because of my oldest son (similar to yours) but found that I felt better adding wheat back in (I think because of the high B vit. content) also drastically increasing my vit C, mainly with lemons, etc. has done wonders. I don’t make bread because it takes too long BUT have come up an easy remedy, maybe your kids would enjoy. Just take straight hard winter wheat berries and soak them over night (you can drain and let them sprout another day if you have time if not thats ok), drain them and throw them in your food processor, grind them into a dough, dump into a bowl and add your salt and olive oil (eyeball it, I never measure), spread the dough on a lined baking sheet (I use a silicon baking liner), bake at 375 maybe 20-30min. It makes a tasty, quick affordable flat bread, we use for everything! Its nutritious, no yeast and you could make a giant batch on the weekend for your weekday needs, adjust the recipe however tastes better to you!

  13. I have had a hard year myself with the death of my brother last month – I am now left to help raise his children and run his business, be the strength for my parents who have lost their son – some days it’s downright overwhelming. I refuse to get depressed about it. This is life with it’s ups and downs. I love reading your blog and getting a glimpse of your days. I wouldn’t change a thing!

  14. I like your spirit and form of communication that is currently present on your blog, and even if you changed it’s focus, I’m sure it would come through in a similar fashion to the blog so many of us currently enjoy. My life is pretty different than yours, although as a working mom of a 2 year old, I have many similar feelings. I guess I enjoy the camaraderie and the knitting, of course. 😉 (sjn821 on Rav)

  15. Love it as is. Let it roll on and it will take you (and the rest of us 🙂 where it needs to.

  16. don’t change a thing 🙂 I love visiting and seeing the beauty of life through your words and photos!

  17. Ginny,

    I love your beautiful thoughtful blog, and it brings me calm thoughts and helps me try to be a better parent. In the past two years, we’ve gone from a household of three (hubs, baby and me) to a household of 5 (us 3 + my parents while my mom slowly died from cancer), then to a household of 5 kids under 10 (and one on the way!) and 3 adults struggling with confusion and grief. Getting through a day patiently and mindfully is a complete impossibility at this point, but I hope that one day, I will be able to manage it. Your blog has been a big help in guiding me towards my attempts to see the stress of all the kids as a gift of grace, rather than an ordeal to be annoyed about. It will continue to be a struggle for me, but your words and thoughts here have been immensely helpful

  18. I come here for inspiration and encouragement. I am also a homeschooling mother of soon to be seven and a Catholic convert. So, it is a tailored blog for me! I am striving to keep up and am always falling behind…You seem a bit more on top of it and though you may think otherwise, it helps push me in a positive way. Your blod reminds me to enjoy the beauty of our families.

  19. I love the ramblings of life, good and bad. I love seeing that your house gets just as messy as mine and I have also enjoyed your book and game recommendations for the kids, they have been spot on. Adventures in the kitchen, knitting projects ( i’ve used a few of the same patterns) and some days just your photography are all I need for a little inspiration.

  20. I read your blog everyday…it’s like a newspaper of a life I had when I was younger (but with fewer kids). I began reading your blog for the knitting posts, but quickly became addicted to your willingness to share your life. You have a talent for writing in a way that is interesting, amusing, encouraging, honest, and inspiring. Now that I am older, I guess it is a way to live my younger years vicariously through your family. Mine is “country” family too and also one of faith. There are many similarities.

    And it has been a hard year for me also, having my oldest granddaughter diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. She is past the 19 months of chemo and radiation, but not over all the after effects, so I have had to rely heavily on my faith. But God is good! As of now, she is cancer free!

    I know you have lots of important things to do every day for your family, but all of your readers would be so deprived if you decided to change to a less “personal” format for the blog. We feel we know you and your family and we love you and yours.

  21. Hi Ginny – Your blog makes me smile. We have a saying at my house that our family seems to careen headlong through life. I found in you a kindred spirit. I am farther along in my path – 4 in college, 3 left at home, but I so enjoy the mud pies and the play outdoors. One especial post that still makes me and my husband laugh was finding one of your kids in the chicken coop! I once found one of mine folded up in a bookshelf and he scared the bejeebers out of me (to his delight) when I found him there. I was also highly encouraged by your adoption posts. We have two adopted African American children and there are many and varied struggles and joys. One of my guys, who is very sporty, loves to hear about the four home runs that Gabe made in a game and all the exploits on the golf course. So, in short, I wouldn’t change a thing about your blog. It’s a lovely thing!

  22. Ginny,
    I found your blog through a very moving post you did for Ann Voskamp. Right then and there a friend and I said this is a woman’s blog we need to follow. I have so enjoyed watching your life in pictures (very similar memories of some younger years in TN when we lived there). I find you very real (and funny) and inspiring. I say just stay with who you are and go with your heart for the things you want to write about each day. Some may be more serious than others, some may be a reminder to us all to live gently and warmly near the hearts of our children in abandoned beauty like you have so well displayed in your outdoor play in the natural world. You are doing an amazing job with this blog.

    Yes, I too, admit we’ve lived the toughest year yet in our family life. One the Lord has been showing his faithfulness in and how new his mercies are each morning. Job loss for dear hubby while living in the U.S., loss of a home, coming back to our home and native land of Canada, homeless and disillusioned, a very ill daughter who has struggled so terribly in mind and body, a huge medical bill (because we were to wait the 3months to be covered by our provincial health care before being allowed medical help) that we could do nothing about since we were in dire straits over our daugther’s illness and life was at risk. We’ve a physically disabled child and some tough decisions on choosing a few surgeries that could help (or possibly weaken) her muscles, and I’ve just been through some training to help another of our children with the confusion of dyslexia. Some days this can all be so overwhelming trying to think out how to fit it all in, and sit beside 3 children to homeschool them, prepare all the right food to give nutrient dense meals, and still have my goal of living the great Charlotte Mason life outside that I so desire for us all. Oh, and all that interspersed between medical appointments for two of the four children, and trying to find one-on-one dates with each child throughout the year. It’s a fast life to be certain. Slowing down isn’t always easy, particularly the older the children get, because let’s face it, teenagers really do need to be kept busy.

    But it’s one of the reasons I sat down and asked my daughter, “how do I create a blog too?” I don’t profess to be helping anyone, really. And I didn’t want it to be serious. Just wanted to try and keep in touch with friends down south. I’ve had enough serious stuff happening this past year that I was kind of trying to leave that part behind and just find something to call my own that is light and fun. So, I think, Ginny, I’ll say again, go with your heart. You’ll be surprised no matter what you’re posting, and how serious or not you think it is. You are blessing people over and over again in such a variety of ways. And, I think, documenting a lovely life for your children to always hold on to. Keep at what you’re doing so well!

    Blessings on your day fellow homeschool mama!

    Barbara

  23. Oh, yes, it’s been a hard year here, too! My youngest was just diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, a life-altering diagnosis. One of our other children has had a challenging year and some serious stuff going on as well. And the 3rd, we are trying so hard not to let her get lost in the intensity of the other two’s needs. All this with a major move and lots of travel/work for my husband, multiple family member deaths and more.We are still trying to figure it all out.

    Your blog is a source of inspiration – love the knitting (I soooo need to knit up 3 Bulles!) and homeschooling ideas, the cooking, too – as well as comfort and comraderie. I don’t wish the challenges we’ve faced on anyone but it is comforting to hear that one is not alone in her struggles. Hang in there and keep posting. You are already benefiting others.

  24. I agree with all the comments that your blog is so nourishing and so beautiful. I keep coming back and reading older posts because I too am a fairly new reader. Since you asked;, )I am struggling with raising boys, the how to not feel like I am always messing it up! We have one girl who has four younger bouncing energetic brothers. I am getting older and I think, tired:). I yell too much. I am so in love with these kids I just wish I understood sometimes how to do this thing called mothering. I seem to try to be figuring it out anew each day, which is likely the point, but I find so much encouragement just being able to turn here.
    Your blog fills me:). I have past wounds and I think they haunt me more often than I realize. But your writing is a gift-I was afraid you might say you were going to stop writing! God bless you and thank you-when you write about your everyday, the bits about nursing, messes, enjoying weekends instead of playing catch up-those simple things are so helpful just to see that other mamas are running through the same thoughts, figuring out the same things day in and day out. God bless you!

  25. You keep it real. No need to change anything.

  26. You write “I want to focus on the positive. It’s in my nature to do so. ” and you do, BUT you also talk about the hard and that makes your blog so special. It is like life – beauty and hard going hand in hand. I love it and it helps me to acknowledge the hard and see the beauty in my own life.
    What I’m curious about is how does it feel to have older kids. I understand that you share less of your kids life as they grow older and we all have to respect their privacy, but I’m curious how does it feel for you? What changes for you as a mother?

  27. You have got me thinking now………has it been a difficult year…..hmmmm I guess it has had it moments, totally different to yours but moments there have been yes. When life is going well it is sometimes difficult to remember the harder bits, probably as we don’t necessarily want to remember them.

    I am always struggling with juggling, with fitting everything in that I need and want to do. Our needs always overriding our wants, our needs not always being the most exciting things but important none the less. Slowly I am finding a way along that path definitely with help from fellow bloggers as they inspire me to change things, improve things and except the status quo.

    I come here to read and enjoy, and comment occasionally!

  28. Please don’t change a thing! I love that I can live in another corner of the globe but as a mother of 5 living in the countryside who dabbles in a bit of knitting I can relate to much of what you write about here. I love your beautiful photos and reading about your simple everyday life and you seem very down to earth which is very refreshing. as they say, keep on keeping on! Mel x

  29. I have (only) four kids and totally understand. Your blog is one of my favourites, the beautiful pictures and your descriptions of everyday life. I really like, that you don’t hide the sometimes sad and difficult shades of life. Thank you!
    Best wishes, Micha

  30. HI, Ginny and the whole family=]=]=] I check for your post every day, and i think i am addicted =] and the reason is that your life and family give me strength to deal with my own small problems, with my little family /a husband and a son/ and to find happiness in every little aspect of life. I respect your vitality, your energy to cope with all the house work, home school, knitting, reading, gardening, beekeeping, posting and in the end finding time for a family trip=]
    Thank you and keep going!
    Greetings from Bulgaria

  31. I enjoy your photos and your blog – all your thoughts and your struggles, your joys and your sorrows. I like seeing the wonderful things you knit and hear about the books you are reading. And your gardening. The whole lot. I too give thanks for your blog and the inspiration you are to me and that you give to so many. Blessings to you and yours.

  32. I love the photos of family life, especially scenes outdoors. How creative your children get to be with what they see and find around.

  33. jean kruse says:

    Don’t change a thing – it’s perfect as is.

  34. Hi Ginny. I read your blog to be inspired to live an intentional, simple, natural life. I come for the book ideas, the craft ideas and updates on your family and, of course, all your beautiful photos. If you mention a craft kit, or a book or something else you’ve found and love I often will seek out the same book or pattern, or whatever and I always love what you recommend. I appreciate that you keep things real and show that a simple life with many children can be rich and rewarding. It’s my daily dose of inspiration and renews me for parenting and homeschooling my own five children.

  35. I read very few mommy blogs and yours is one of them. I enjoy your photos and your honesty. I also like that you have a good balance of private and public and you don’t treat your blog like your diary or hang out all your dirty laundry. It’s not like I need the encouragement because I’m probably about 15 years older than you and I’ve been where you are. It’s just pleasant to see happy, crunchy Catholic families (I felt like I was an odd-ball at your age -especially among Catholics – with my homebirths and homepathics and compost bin). I came to knitting late in life so I do get inspired by your knitting projects. And I think gardeners always enjoy seeing other gardens and the fruit of their work.

    I was talking to the married daughter of a friend this weekend who is surrounded by little ones and homeschooling. I told her that the 30’s seem to be the most hectic. The home is full of people and activities and everything seems static in its chaos. But then all of sudden, you are looking at 40 and things start to subtly change. Then bam! You are 45 and looking around at your friends and wondering how they got to look so middle-aged! And what happened to everyone’s kids? I don’t know how it happens but from that moment time seems to accelerate. I attended five weddings this summer of couples who can’t possibly be old enough to marry yet! So, don’t count the years ahead. Think about the years you “get to have” now.

  36. Seeing that there is a new post from you in my blog feed makes me smile in anticipation, truly, which is not true of other blogs I read. (Posie Gets Cozy is a close second, though!) I appreciate your faith, your commitment to your beautiful family, and the everyday truth of your life together. Thank you just for being you and sharing that so transparently with us. It is a huge inspiration (and challenge) to live my own life authentically.

  37. Shannon Dennis says:

    I only recently came into your blog and I wish I could tell you everything that your blog does for me. It makes it sound like I don’t have a life, but I share in so many of the same struggles. I am a mom of 8 and I too homeschool (the younger 6 are at home, the two oldest are 18 and 17, and in public high school). I don’t know if it is the loneliness that I find myself in given that I spend a lot of my time at home (which I don’t mind, I actually love), or we have started a new church (becoming Orthodox from Eastern Catholic), or the past three years have chased me into a bit of reclusive state (horrible wrongs directed at my husband and his name), but I find a kindred spirit within your blog and it gives me company and a different kind of friendship. It’s kind of like curling up with a really good book at the end of the night, but instead it is a cold, hard, manmade light, but within it I am comforted and it is almost like visiting Midford, it’s familiar. I’m not sure if that is a good thing, to find strength in a blog, doesn’t sound too healthy, but for now it does nicely.

  38. Love the honesty, optimism and joy that you share. Not always fun and happy but the underlying joy of family life always shines through. We are currently in Dubai and have been pulled into a bit of consumeristic-life over the last year, complete with school (small/alternative one but still). With 5 children and 24 years of homeschooling this is the first delve into this life. I read your blog to remind me of my core values and beliefs — it’s a little bit of home. And I think it’s been a big factor in our decision to head home in January so thank you for sharing your grounding beliefs of the joy in simple family life. Please know you are appreciated:)

  39. Your words and pictures are a comfort to me. I love reading what you have on your heart to share. I feel as if I am spending time with a wonderful friend. Thanks so much for that!

  40. I love everything here! I just love visiting your blog!
    Everything you write about and photograph is just beautiful
    and inspiring. I love to watch your children grow and feel as though
    I know you all! I hope you just keep it all as is!
    Corinne

  41. I love this corner of the internet. I come hear to visit and imagine that you are my neighbor. I love your post on what you are reading. I’d love to hear more about the boy’s finds while metal detecting.

  42. I love the hodgepodge. I love your stories. Don’t change!

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