Practical paideia

It’s amazing how time passes while life happens. As I write this, I am sitting in a field with my four sons, as we wait for our family’s one sister (smack in the middle of the boys) to emerge from her twice-weekly ballet class. Living out in the country, at least 45 minutes from all the places in town, we have grown accustomed to schooling on the go. While we adore audiobooks on the road, I honestly do not love bringing workbooks and other projects along into car seats and waiting rooms. But at least while the weather holds, we hike or play tag or toss balls instead of keeping our noses incessantly buried in books… which, admittedly, would be the occupation of choice for almost anyone in my home. Even the 16 month old will grab books over toys nine times out of ten.

Which brings me around to mentioning one of the main reasons this blog has gone ignored for an embarrassingly substantial length of time. After over nine weeks of bedrest at home in early 2019 due to a partial placental abruption during my fourteenth pregnancy, I went into labor at 33 weeks. While I have never had easy, uncomplicated, or carefree pregnancies, this one definitely took the cake. After my bedrest was moved to the hospital, my parents stepped up for a solid week of parenting my four kids on their own while my husband stayed at my hospital bedside as I was pumped full of medications to keep our baby boy safely tucked inside. And then with a sudden shudder like a breaking storm, our fifth child was born right at 34 weeks after less than thirty minutes of intense labor. Seth Tyndale was a darling little lump of sugar right from the getgo, but his sweetness was matched by his strength – he only needed breathing assistance for an hour or so. In fact, by the time I was allowed to go join my husband in the NICU with our baby boy, he was already on room air. God was busily answering so many prayers! I spent the next two weeks mostly sitting in an uncomfortable glider beside Seth’s isolette, holding him tucked inside my shirt for as many hours a day as the nurses would let me. I sang psalms to him, prayed with him, put an earbud next to his head while I listened to sermons or the audio Bible in my Olive Tree app. I was determined that this little boy would never know a day where he wasn’t bathed in the words and wonder of his King. We made it home from the NICU in only two weeks, which impressed and surprised the medical workers – but we had worked hard around the clock to help Seth make strides toward home, and had hundreds of people praying. When he was eight weeks old, and exactly 7lbs, Seth had eye surgery because he was born with a special (aka complicated) left eye. His little baby blue needed a few things done, including having his lens removed. So until he is old enough to have his lens replaced, he wears a contact lens in that eye! Changing, cleaning, and replacing his itty bitty contact is not my favorite mothering chore – but we are so delighted by God’s kind gift of optical care and medical progress. One of our most frequent family prayers is for God to bless Seth with good sight, and for us to be faithful as we help him learn to live with contacts and glasses from infancy.

And this is where you would have found me for the last 15+ months as well: bathing my children in the things I know are true, good, beautiful. Strewing their days & ways with books, music, food, laughter, lessons, and conversations around blanketed beds or bedecked tables. There have been painful growth spurts and frustrating external circumstances. But when boiled down to its most essential moments and memorable pursuits, it is easy to see that God is the one who has been bathing my home with His truth, abundant goodness, and tangible beauty.

He is the one who is educating all of us, molding us, filling us. I am joyfully humbled by the realization that I am disciple and student and child right beside my five little gingers.

I would like to find a way to carve out moments to share thoughts and experiences here at Joyful Domesticity again. Not because I think I have anything shiny or unique or eloquent to offer. But because I’m here in the trenches of homeschooling my five kids while seeking to maintain a joyful countenance and a joy-filled home, longing for more moments to fill with my own schole or ways to live out my philosophies of Christian culture… and if you want to share the experiences or join in the conversation, this is the place you’ll find it.

I want to pursue practical paideia and joyful domesticity, and find the beauty in their shared realities. To God be the glory.

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