bare white

bare white


I don't do...

"Comparison is the THIEF of joy!" 
-Theodore Rosevelt

I dare say I have let a Thief into my house, my mind, and my heart a time or 2... or a thousand.  Looking to my left and right to see what other moms, families, and neighbors are doing can often distract me from what I know I should be doing. Yes, there are times seeing what works for others can really encourage and rejuvenate.  But sometimes it just steals my joy and contentment. What this looks like for me :

- Comparison - do my kids know that? Do that? Have the ability to do that? Can I keep my house that way? Am I ahead (let's be REAL I caught up?) with my laundry? Am I reading the BEST books? Eating the BEST food? Involving myself in the BEST things?
(I think you could actually make a pretty strong argument that the "best" things in life might just be what we idolize the most and distract us the most from keeping eternity in view...hmmm)

I could go on and on - fill in the blank for your own proverbial "thing". 

Addison and I were talking recently about what makes her unique and comparison to others did not make the list. But then again, neither did things like her long hair, her ballet abilities, her creativity, her love of reading...none of those were on the list I gave her. There was one thing on her list that makes her unique. It is HER - exactly how God made her to be. He didn't make anyone else like her - no one! Her ability to be unique is found in her identity in Christ and living that out because, there is no one else in this world that can be Addison Renae White. So if she gets caught in the trap of trying to be like someone else as a result of comparison, she is no longer fulfilling her unique calling to be HER. Sure, blue hair is a fun accessory, but not what would make her unique.

The same is true for my family, for ME. Letting that thief of comparison in gave me chains that I am now desperately shaking free!

Galatians 5:13, 16, 25-26 - "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another...But I say walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh...If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." 

I could type out all of Galatians 5 - it is so powerful in setting us free from Comparison, and Rivalry. God's word in Hebrews is called the "Law of Liberty" and I LOVE that! I only want to align myself with His word. I desire to live a life honoring to Him, pleasing to Him and His word gives Freedom. Freedom is NOT 'live however I want to live'. God has given us freedom to know Him (And how do we KNOW him? By His Word -the Bible), Freedom to live for Him, Freedom to worship Him, Freedom to love Him, Freedom to hear Him.

SO here is what I did. I made an "I Don't Do..." list. 
This list is not meant to compare or be legalistic. Infact, it's the exact opposite. Before I made this list, I was feeling a certain amount of guilt for things we recently chose not to do or to do depending on your perspective. After I made this list, it gave me a sense of contentment in our decisions that I longed for. There is no power in the actual list, but the practice of writing it out is what set me free from the aforementioned, self inflicted guilt.

1) I don't do real dishes in this season of my life...almost never
2) I don't sort socks
3) I don't fold my kids laundry
4) We don't do Santa (and no judgement on those that do...I just can't afford my kids lists to Santa)
5) I don't do large groups at Restaurants (rarely an just stresses me out)
6) We don't vacation with other families right now - Our family vacation is #1 and we don't have the ability to do multiple vacations in this season, and that's okay.
7) We don't camp - maybe someday but that day is not now and it won't be in a tent.
8) We don't have a set lunch in the summertime.

Trying to appear "cool"...after his eyes were dilated
"Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding." (II Cor. 10:12) 

This list may grow and change. I want it to as I grow and change. I refer to this list often (having a 'DO' list is helpful too!) For now though, the 'DONT' list has helped me regain focus and shake those chains off. What is on your 'don't' list?  Share it with me, I would love to hear. Or what is on your 'do' list? And how has it set you free from comparison? 


My journey with Shadd Houston the past 525,949.2 minutes

It's always interesting thinking back over the last year, 365 days, 52 weeks, 525,949.2 minutes. Sometimes it is with great sentiment we reminisce. Sometimes with regret. Sometimes with fear or anxiety. Sometimes unexplainable joy. Looking back involves emotions that are enjoyable to relive or possibly bring a sense of dread. For me, the last year has included all of the above and to be honest, something I thought I would never write about…let alone after years of barely blogging about anything. A few months ago I started thinking about putting the past 365 days into words.  I continued to dismiss it, not knowing how or what to even say because the words and memories left me feeling anxious. Now, a few days (update: Saturday, the 15th) away from that 1 year mark, I feel a deep need to write it out. Maybe, just maybe, one other mom may feel encouraged. 

363 days ago, I was sitting on my bed crocheting the days away because I was on bedrest. I had been on bedrest for a few weeks because our little man was wanting to come too early. Being number 7, I wasn't too terribly worried because, well…this wasn't my first rodeo and all of our other kids came early. Him coming early was about to be the only thing that seemed "normal" to me after his delivery.

He did arrive early but still somewhat in the safe range. He was small, but I have small babies. He had jaundice and blood sugar issues for a bit but nothing too alarming and we have had that before with other babies.  Overall, he was a healthy, precious boy and all of our hearts melted at the sight and smell of him. Oh that newborn smell!! It is intoxicating, isn't it? The baby moon lasted the typical 2 weeks and it really was lovely. I deeply cherish those first two weeks.
Somewhere around week three, I noticed his temperament was changing and he was becoming more fussy. Our last 3 babies were not fussy and quite easy, and in my pride I thought we had "figured out" this having babies thing. Our oldest two were very fussy babies, but then each one became progressively easier, so you can probably see why I thought I had figured out how to have and raise content babies. God, in His utter mercy, was beginning to show me  how much I desperately need Him... every day. Not just with easy and content babies, but with every baby. Every moment. Every second. Oh how I need Him!

As his fussiness increased so did my anxiety. After each of my other births, I had dealt briefly with baby blues and the feelings of anxiousness but never unbearable and it didn't last long at all. I assumed that would be the case with Shadd. Not so. Infact, not so in the least. Days and weeks went by and he became more and more unsettled in the evenings. My back would hurt so badly from holding him so long in the middle of the night.  And the healing process for me in just delivering him was unlike any I had experienced thus far. Different medications were prescribed and finally one worked for a fierce bladder infection I could not get rid of. Once that was done and over, after weeks of effort, my anxiety started rising even more. Slowly, that anxiety started turning to depression and I became very frightened and scared trying to work through feelings and thoughts I had never had before. I kept them to myself until Shadd was about 4 months old. (I have since learned a common thread with Post Partum Depression is denial and not talking about it - so true for me) At that time, I read an article that had popped into my Facebook feed about a mom who had just committed suicide after dealing with Post Partum depression quietly for almost a year and I couldn't believe what I was reading. That night, in typical fashion of trying all of the holding positions and none working to get my buddy asleep I broke down after being in denial. I told my husband, through heaving tears, what I had been feeling and thinking for months. He graciously took Shadd, told me I was going to go to my OB in the morning and allowed me time by myself to just cry out to the Lord all of the tears and fears I had been holding in for far too long. I  reached a breaking point I didn't even know I had.

Like in the movies, what I would love to tell you is I was prescribed medicine and Shadd got better and everything has been lovely since. In actuality, I was prescribed medicine. I took it and experienced awful side effects. I do feel like that had been my peak and slowly, SLOWLY my hormones were starting to come back to normal range.  It was a roller coaster ride to get back to normal (whatever normal is) and still peaking at times in what felt like panic attacks. The difference this time -  just being able to confide in my husband and a couple friends as my doctor highly recommended. It actually made ALL the difference being able to verbalize what was going on in my head. That and a song I found "on accident" (no it wasn't an accident…sometime I will tell that story - you would see what I mean. It was completely the Holy Spirit).  Music has always had a powerful effect in my life and this song was on repeat. Sometimes ALL day.

Since then, Shadd has continued to grow and change and SLEEP and the anxiety is few and far inbetween. He turns one on Saturday (7/15 today!)  and is pretty consistent in sleeping through the night now…kind of. He is still one of our most challenging babies, but you know the crazy thing, I have learned more through a baby about my Heavenly Father's love and compassion than I knew was possible. I have grown spiritually and been convicted of pride & opinions in my life that I have put-on myself & others unknowingly when, in actuality, Jesus says He sets us free from those chains.  Only God can use a sweet, adorable baby to teach his adult children. I don't know what Shadd will be like in the future…as of now he is intense and adorable! He is aggressive and yet sweet. He seems opinionated just by how he responds to people, but yet content in my arms. What I DO know,  I am so thankful he is here and in our family and God saw fit to bless us with his LIFE! I am, now, so thankful for the journey (thus far) to get to where we are today…celebrating HIS 1 year birthday. Hind sight is 20-20 right? Hind sight shows me it is all worth it. Every tear. Every fear. Every doubt. Every smile. Every laugh. Thank you Jesus for this gift that came from You!


Good Morning! Time : summer siesta and memory box

I mean really…summer? Where are you? I know your HOT temperatures are still hanging out, but I can feel the crispness of fall almost here.
I long for fall every year, but when summer goes by as fast as this past one did, it makes me want to slow down the arrival of my favorite season and plaid! (I love plaid!)

I had grand intentions of blogging this summer. Telling of our adventures to Michigan - which were often this season with family weddings and a vacation. I wanted to blog about our first ever legit garden and how it grew and grew and it was really out of control, but at the same time we now have salsa coming out of our ears - and that obviously didn't happen. Want to hear about swim team….well that came and went too. Ballet intensive?? yup! Same thing.  SO - summer blogging became a summer siesta - and that's okay because that is life, right?!

planting the aforementioned garden before the devilish weeds overtook it

School is now under way. We just completed our first week and you know what? It was lovely. I don't say that in a nonchalant way - it really was just that, lovely.  It was filled with nature journaling & watercolors, our memory box, a little math (we work into math in our school), poetry - Shakespeare in particular,  and LOTS and lots of read-alouds.
My prayer for this upcoming school year is that is would be consumed with JOY-filled learning. I am being intentional about this. I have to. I am
striving to not let the JOY of learning escape us OR to be stolen. It is so easy to allow it to be stolen. I desire (so much) for my kids to love learning and to become life-long, humble learners. Not puffed up with knowledge of "things", but with hearts that just desire to learn more and more because the more they learn the more they realize they don't know. That, to me, is a remarkable person. One who loves to learn and grow and never arrives and humbly admits that every step of the way.

So without further ramblings, let me introduce you to our memory box.
I don't have a picture because this can look like whatever you want it to look like. As much as I am visual, I think too many pictures can also become idols and stumbling blocks to our "doing"…me being the number one culprit of this.

But the memory box, nonetheless,  is just that - a box full of what we are memorizing it. It is our accountability partner. In it we have Scripture passages - one verse as a time, poetry, some spelling rules, shorter catechism questions, and anything else we are working on memorizing. We work on approximately 5 "passages" at one time and keep them in a daily tab. Once those are memorized they are moved to the ODD tab (to be practiced on ODD days) for a week, then moved to the EVEN tab for a week, then moved to the Monday tab, the next week Tuesday tab until we get through a week and then finally the numbers tabs to be practiced once a month.
This thing, the memory box, has been huge in our rememberings. This week as we reviewed what they KNEW the year before I was so curious to see what they remembered. Hopeful that is was at least some of it and WOW! they blew me away! They remembered WAY more than I thought they would. Praising God for this…it is only HIM!

So as we end our summer and start into our fall, our memory box is being filled with lots of loveliness that we will be working on through the year - all of us. Me, and each of the kids…including the littles.
Here are a few things that are being added to it for us:

Psalm 139 - finishing up
Psalm 19
Romans 1 - a few select verses
Poems by John Bunyan - finishing up one
Shorter catechism questions - 11-20
Phonograms for my little ones learning to read
The Word - poem by Isaac Wimberly

And who knows what else will make it in.


Good Morning! Time : Math Conversations

Addition, Subtraction, multiplication, division, parenthesis, exponents, telling time, algebra and I could go on and on, right? All math vocabulary.

To a 6, 9, 11 year old, this is a foreign language.  In our house, we have struggled, cried, argued, then succeeded only to digress over and over again. It has been a cycle that we have endured year after year. Then, through reading The Core by Leigh Bortins, I had an "A-HA!" math moment. I had been going at this all wrong with my kids (especially one in particular). Math is like a foreign language. And if they don't have the vocabulary down then I cannot possibly expect them to know what to do.  So we took a HUGE step back the past two years, picked a core math curriculum (to keep us on track) that allowed us TIME to go deeper, had conversations about specific equations and allowed teaching moments during our morning time. The key word in that sentence is TIME. I needed to have time to slow down  for these conversations that take us deeper in math. If I spent an hour and a half + with each of my kids in each of their math curriculums these deeper conversations would never happen because of TIME alone. So that was a large factor in me choosing our math curriculum. (I understand everyone has a Math curriculum they love - so stick with whatever you are doing if you like it and your kids are learning! There is NO perfect curriculum that fits the individual needs of every student - sorry there just isn't) 
We now approach an individual problem from every possible way I can think of. My word for this past year, borrowed from a friend, was immersion. We have been immersed in math this year.

Here's what it looks like practically :

-They get a whiteboard and marker. 
-I give them a problem - typically something I have observed they are struggling with in their math curriculum or building on Classical Conversations memory work, or just something I have pulled from a Math book. (my two oldest, though 2 years apart, are at the same math level currently)
-They write the problem on their board
-They do the problem on their board
-*If it is done correctly they explain it to me as if they are teaching me 
THIS last part - them teaching me - is the most important part. I have realized, if they cannot explain it to me, using the math VOCABULARY with which they have been taught and teach me clearly then they don't have it down. So we will do another problem until they can. 

We will do this for 10-30 minutes in our morning time or truthfully for however long we need.

I have also added basic definitions to our memory box (memory box is coming up NEXT!)  for them to put to memory such as :
-order of operations : PEMDAS (parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, divisions, addition, subtraction)
-our Classical Conversations memory work : associative law, communative law etc. (we have also started putting numbers in place of letters this year so they have to PROVE these laws to me)

I am extremely thankful for math this year. Doing this one thing has been a game changer for my kids understanding of math! My prayer for my kids is that they will see our Strong Creator, Elohim, just as much in math as they would in creation. HE is a God of complete order, as evidenced in math, as complete creativity, as evidenced in creation. What a beautiful picture!
Their favorite place for school

"The real problem is that math, like a foreign language, uses unfamiliar symbols, sentence structures, and grammatical rules. So the best way to become fluent in math is to immerse yourself in its language." (Leigh Bortins, The Core page 131)


Good Morning! Time : Read Alouds

As I am writing this, my kitchen is a wreck, my laundry is piled a mile high and I am just wanting to go outside and read with my kids and walk back in in a couple of hours to it all done. Oh if only…

Okay - Where do you even start with the plethora of amazing books in our world. I mean really?!?

Truthfully, I think the best list of books that I have has come recommended from other Moms, other bloggers and just some of favorite people in my life. I will list my favorite links below.

Here at our house,  we like the classics!  (i.e. Little House, Pilgrims Progress, Moby Dick, Robinhood, Narnia etc.).
I am not saying "silly", less thought provoking books are bad.
I just feel that whatever my kids put in their minds, will eventually come out. SO, if they are going to spend time reading, or I am going to read aloud to them, I want them to fall in love with adventurous characters like Laura Ingalls or Huck Finn. I want them to want to be brave like John Bunyan. Or creative like the boy in Paddle-To-The-Sea.  Follow the likes of Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy in the Chronicles of Narnia as they travel places we can only dream of.
We have just started to scratch the surface of this list and I am sure it is safe to say there are SOOOO many book not on this list yet that should be there.

Side note : when my kids (especially my boys) are starting to read, I care much less what they are reading - I just want them to READ. I focus later with them on how to pick quality, fabulous books, drool worthy books and how to know the difference. So if Spider man is who they are interested in - I'm okay with that…I just want them to read. I know there are some that would disagree, and I am okay with that. This is just what works for us.
The bottom line - I pray my kids would learn to have a love, deep love, for me reading aloud to them and them reading on their own…just a love for words!

One of the best books lists I have seen is on this blog :
Amongst Lovely Things book lists
and here :


Good Morning! Time - Making Connections

Morning Time Goal :

I thought I'd share today what the WHOLE goal or beautiful picture of Morning Time is : TO MAKE CONNECTIONS…connections of seemingly unfamiliar things.

My-oh-my! When this happens it really almost takes my breath away…in fact, I get giddy! (If you know me well, you know what happens when I get giddy - I can't help but talk about what God is doing!)  I see God so much in the making of connections - things that I would have never connected on my own. Now, the beauty of Morning time, for me, is my kids are starting to make those connections. Not every day. Not every week even. But connecting the dots nonetheless. 

Recently, we started Morning Time WAY late. We have a baby who isn't feeling well and boys with an unusual amount of energy. I will be honest, I woke up this particular morning wishing I could go back to sleep just for 10 minutes to start the day over. I knew it was going to be a long day when I was awakened to RJ crying (loudly) for daddy all because he had a runny nose. It seems he is petrified of his own snot these days…really.
I rolled out of bed, fed littlest one who is just "off" and headed downstairs. 
After breakfast, showers, making of disheveled beds, finally getting a couple down for early naps (this is a RARITY in our house…early naps that is.)  we started Morning time at 10:00am-ish.

We started this day with a book called, "God's Names" by Sally Michael - can I just tell you I love this book! It is so well written for kids (in my opinion…just my opinion) I don't think that you need devotional books to get into the Word. Infact, most often that is where we are reading from…the WORD. But in oder to study God's names, this books has been so helpful in directing us to specific spots in His WORD where His specific names are used.

So, this particular morning…the one where I wished I could go back to sleep…started off with Elohim - our Strong Creator. As we continued on in our morning time we read Paddle-To-The-Sea (another LOVELY book) and without any planning or prompting my two big kids connected Paddle-To-The-Sea to Elohim; which lead to talking about our Zoo trip recently and how we saw Elohim there. How Creative is our Creator!  And then to a hymn - How Great Thou Art and how that hymn talks about our Strong Creator. They made these connections…on their own. And I wanted to cry! It was beautiful in ways that words cannot express.

speaking of zoo animals
Even later that already late morning, our civics questions lead to talking about the riots in Baltimore and what our founding Fathers who wrote that beloved paper we call the constitution would think of this rioting…which lead to a conversation about freedom of speech and John Bunyan….which was PERFECT because we are memorizing 'To Be a Pilgrim' right now in our M.T.

All this to say, this was the first time this year where my oldest two have started making this many connections all on their own (while the littles listen in…well, let's be honest, kind of listen in) and I am SO thankful and grateful that God revealed Himself in all of these things. After all, HE is in all things. Let me be clear, This is NOT my doing. This is not because I am following a specific "curriculum" or book. This is a result of God's mercy and the asking of Questions resulting in conversations. Jesus was the greatest Socratic debater of all time…hence the reason for socratic method and why I want to emulate Him.
(Socratic Method (n.)
pedagogical technique in which a teacher does not give information directly but instead asks a series of questions, with theresult that the student comes either to the desired knowledge by answering the questions or to a deeper awareness of the limits of knowledge.)

I will get back to more specifics of Morning Time soon - but I had to stop and share the goal…so just maybe it might help the long term vision. 

The Pilgrim

Who would true Valour see
Let him come hither;   
One here will Constant be,   
Come Wind, come Weather.   
There's no Discouragement,
Shall make him once Relent,
His first avow'd Intent,

To be a Pilgrim.

Who so beset him round,
With dismal Storys,
Do but themselves Confound;   
His Strength the more is.
No Lyon can him fright,
He'l with a Gyant Fight,
But he will have a right,
To be a Pilgrim.

Hobgoblinnor foul Fiend,
Can daunt his Spirit:
He knows, he at the end,
Shall Life Inherit.
Then Fancies fly away,   
He'l fear not what men say,   
He'l labour Night and Day,
To be a Pilgrim.

John Bunyan: The Journey of a Pilgrim   -     By: Brian Cosby
highly recommend this book - we are reading it now.


Good Morning! Time - Poetry

Last week was spring cleaning week at our house. That is all we did for the most part. My mom came and helped us clean, organize and rearrange everything. And I can tell you, in our 6 years of living here, there were some things - like behind my refrigerator - that have never been cleaned. WOW! and YIKES! This is not something I enjoy doing, but it sure does feel good to have it done. Now to maintain…this is the hard part here at the whitehouse!

SO - Here are the links to Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 on Morning time…a good place to start if you are just joining us…

Poetry has been a fun addition to our memorization and follows the "Classical" education we are a seeking to emulate - in a way that works for us.

We have memorized a few poems since the beginning of the year (we are going for QUALITY over QUANTITY here) and are working on a couple now that are a bit more challenging…one in particular is very long and will not be memorized fully any time soon.
Here is a list of poems we are putting to memory and ones we will hopefully get to over the years :

- The More It Snows - AA Milne
- The Word - Isaac Wimberly (amazing video with him reciting this in the middle of Kari Jobe's song)
-To Be A Pilgrim - John Bunyan
-Mist and All - Dixie Wilson

There are so many wonderful poems and nursery rhymes. We also started with Shakespeare this year, but I will chat about him on another day…let me just say this - I didn't think Shakespeare would be doable with my age of kids…I was wrong - they LOVE him!

Here are some poems on our list for future : (Revised 4/2015 with recommendations from readers)

- The Road not Taken - Frost
-Sail on - Joaquin Miller
-Bed in Summer - Robert Louis Stevenson
-The Charge of the Light Brigade - Tennyson
-IF - Kippling
-October's Party - George Cooper
-My Gift - Christina Rossetti

This might just be our favorite Poem from this year:

Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather.
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent,
To be a pilgrim.

Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He'll with a giant fight,
But he will have a right
To be a pilgrim.

Hobgoblin, nor foul fiend,
Can daunt his spirit:
He knows, he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He'll fear not what men say,
He'll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.

Any favorite poems you have? Do share with us!

Why Poetry?
Poetry is a way that we can see the world, man and our Creator differently than by just common language. There is a different power in Poetry…and this is coming from someone who was very sceptacle in adding this to our Morning time.
I wish I could just link you to the blog I had first read some of this, but since I can't I will share a bit of what was written. (It was named : Ordo Amoris…just incase she ever puts it back up)

Poetry, being a higher form of language, requires a higher level of thinking that cannot be easily taught…it must be caught. And the more poetry you read, the more your kids will catch it. And once the catch it and make those connections, a big smile will cross their face - it is amazing! I read once, "a genius is someone who makes connections that other people miss…" The more connections we make with what seems like unlike things, the more this amazing world opens up to us. And truthfully and most importantly, the more we see GOD is everything… EVERY THING - completely creative and completely orderly.
Typically, the lessons poetry teaches come slow - which is perfect for kids…okay for me too! The more we read it over and over and over the more is makes sense and the easier to memorize. Try not to explain too much of the poem away…let your kids get those "oh-cool!" moments themselves.

Enjoy Poetry by just reading it, memorizing it and studying it…when you have really little ones - just enjoy reading it. And remember - keep this short and sweet!!

Really important side note : your morning time make look TOTALLY different than ours. Call it something different, do different things - make it work for your family and your home school. The most important thing is that you are spending time together, learning and exploring as much as you can together…you will be amazed at what your kids pick up along the way!