Leading from Behind

As a parent, leadership is a daily job, and it can be all-consuming.  If we don’t direct the day, will teeth get brushed?  Will math be practiced?  Will bedrooms be cleaned?  Will Bibles be read and prayers be said?

If we don’t walk at the front of the line, will these little ones go astray?  Will they know where to go and how to get there?

We are placed in the position of authority in our homes, and that isn’t a job to be shunned or taken lightly.  However, being in charge can lead us to put on blinders as we focus intently on the goal of raising healthy, responsible adults.  We can too easily miss the wonderful people these kids already are.

Early in the fall, we had a remarkable day with glorious, sunny weather.  My mom and I took the kids for a big walk.  We strolled behind as my children walked ahead of us, happily brandishing sticks (and light sabers!), picking up interesting finds, and relishing the  warm day.  I called out to them from time to time if someone drifted too close to poison ivy or became too enthusiastic with a stick.  But overall, I simply chatted with my mom and observed the wonderful way that children learn even without direct leadership.  Their curiosity comes naturally, so I can’t help wondering if their learning actually happens more readily without my interference.  Certainly their joy seems to!



But this post isn’t simply an attempt to say “get out of the way” of kids’ learning, I have something a little different mulling around in my brain as I reminisce about that particular afternoon and reflect upon some things that I’ve observed in the last few months of homeschooling with a newborn in our family.

When I stand behind the action and watch from a few steps back, I am still leading my family.  I am leading them toward MORE of what they are doing.  I am showing my children that their activities are productive, their conversations are important, and their observations are valuable. I am leading them to do more of the same, to see their choices as good.  By not interrupting, I am saying, “You are doing good things.  You are smart, curious, and important.”  I tell them by my actions that we are on the right track.  School is going well, and they are growing as amazing people on this beautiful planet.  I do have to step in at strategic points in our week.  I do have to make concrete plans from time to time and take the first steps into new activities and new lessons.  However, the more I lead from behind, the more I see the leaders that these kids are becoming, and I have the ultimate pleasure of watching it happen.




The season is passing far too quickly.  We’ve filled it to the brim with good things.  These are special days with a new baby, the return to school, and even football.  The cool weather is a welcome change, and the days have a crisp beauty that I relish.  I have a few new blog post planned, but here’s a little photo review of early fall.

Welcome, Little One.

Dear Friends,

Hello!  I’m back, and I’m delighted to introduce a new family member!  Just one week ago, we welcomed Hattie Grace into the fold.


Life is certainly different than it was when I started this blog in 2009.  I had two small boys, a teaching fellowship, and a crazy grad school schedule.  Now, in the summer of 2016, I became the mother of FIVE. Our whole world is different now.  We have three boys and two girls.  I am a mostly at-home mom, but I’m also a doula now.  We homeschool (something that was certainly not in the cards in 2009), and we are all a little further along in the big quest of figuring out who we are as a family and what that looks like in our world.

These are wonderful changes, but they also mean that blogging gets pushed aside most of the time.  I am grateful if anyone still reads these posts–even after months of silence on my end.  I still don’t intend to ever call this blog “complete,” saying good-bye to a project that has meant a lot to me over the years.  Just know that long stretches of time might pass without something new, but I’m still over here dreaming up ideas and waiting for the right moment to share a piece of our life with you.

‘Til next time…


In Between

Dear Patient Readers,

I’m here!  I’m glad that you are, too.

Yesterday, it was 66 degrees.  We went outside without jackets.  I started to believe that spring actually had sprung.  This morning, however, the world is frozen again.  Water that collected in a snow sled out back is frozen solid.  Snow is falling and blowing.  Pretty as a picture–just not the picture that I was hoping to see.  I enjoy winter, but these little hints of spring over the last few weeks have made me excited for planting things, making pastel crafts, and preparing for Easter.

This is limbo–a weird in-between state.

Spring has always been a good blogging season for me.  I guess it is the urge to start something new.  The Yarn Harlot calls it “startitis” in her hilarious book, The Yarn Harlot and in her blog by the same name.  I feel it!  I want to start all kinds of new things–a garden, a knitting project, some redecorating, and of course–SPRING CLEANING.

I hope you’ll stop by to see.


2016 Theme and Goals

I love the start of a new year!  I’ve written about my love of fresh starts many times on this blog.  I look for lots of reasons for a personal “new year” (birthdays, new seasons, the start of school, etc.), but I especially love the traditional new year because I’m setting goals and dreaming about the future along with many other people.  I enjoy blog posts and YouTube videos about resolutions and goal-setting.  Last year, I posted a detailed list for myself, and I also did a mid-year update.  Writing about my annual expectations here helped keep me accountable, and I’m eager to get started again.

This year, I decided to choose a theme.  My theme for 2016 is SIMPLIFY.  This is a continuation of last year’s goal to “get organized” and my later posts concerning simple living.  I will apply this theme to a few specific area of life.

  1.  In the practice of my faith, I wish to embrace the simplicity of the gospel and avoid the perfectionism that often keeps me from digging deeper.  I want to begin each day with time in prayer and reading, but too often, I decide not to do it because I don’t have enough time to do it “right.”  What a ridiculous excuse!  No more of that. A couple of minutes in focused prayer is certainly better than none, and every minute has as much potential for blessing as an extended period would have.  God shows up everyday, so I should, too!
  2. I’ve been simplifying my belongings since the summer, but we have a terribly long way to go!  Instead of getting discouraged, I’m creating a monthly plan to address the different areas of my home.  I’ll save that for a different post, but I will say that January is devoted to Clothing & Laundry!  I am working on building capsule wardrobes for my kids (I’ve been using one myself since the fall), and I want to finally find a laundry routine that works for me.
  3. I’m simplifying my exercise expectations.  I always make tons of plans that never pan out.  I need to recognize that I am in a season of life where my time isn’t really my own.  My children are small, and they won’t always be!  So instead of bemoaning the gym membership that I do not have or the 5Ks I have not run, I am going to take joy in daily walks with my dog.  When I do walk faithfully, I can quickly tell that it is good for my body and my spirit.  It is also very good for my dog!  Please remind of of this when it’s below freezing!
  4. Finally, I want to establish morning and evening routines that help us to transition into and out of our days.  This isn’t a new concept.  I was quite the devoted “FlyBaby” (www.flylady.net) at one time, but we’ve fallen out of our routines.  I know that my whole family benefits from this loose but meaningful structure.  When I’ve been disciplined in my routines, everything feels simple, and I desperately need that feeling.

Beyond my themed goals, I have one other resolution.  In 2016, I will grow in my “culinary self.”  I’ve been in a cooking rut lately, so this year, I resolve to experiment with food.  I want to try more meatless meals and rely less heavily on grains to simply fill up.  Due to some medical needs for one of our children, we’ve already made great strides to limit grains and sugars, but instead of seeing this as a limitation, I want to use the opportunity to explore alternative ingredients, new flavors and textures, and even cuisines from different cultures.  It’s exciting!

Well, that’s it, gang!  Wishing you and yours a wonderful 2016.

~*~Erica G.~*~

Getting Back to the WHY

We hit a rough patch early in the fall.  We had been working hard on the house–painting, cleaning, organizing, and decluttering.  That’s exciting!  All good things.

But then there was the flat tire, the dented car door, the leaking sink,the dentist appointments, the strange little stomach bug with a slight fever, the lost library books, and those pesky multiplication facts.  Sigh.  Real life.

Suddenly, in the midst of all that LIFE, I kind of crumbled under a whole lot of self-doubt.  Have you ever been there?  You’re working hard to do all the right things–to check off all those boxes–but you always feel behind and inadequate.  That’s where I wallowed for awhile.  Homeschooling, in particular, was feeling like a bunch of “get dones” instead of the joyful privilege that it can be.

I’m not one to linger in a bad mood for long, and I knew I needed to do something to shake the funk.  I reached out to a group of homeschool moms who might understand.  Their responses were incredible.  They were practical, offering actual help for spelling and reading.  They were whimsical and inspirational, reminding me that I’m not alone.  One friend told me to get back to the WHY of our decision to homeschool–to return to all the things I love about educating my children at home.  That advice was a true answer to prayer, and I followed it immediately.

In our homeschool, getting back to the WHY means experiencing the outdoors.  It means learning through all of our sense.  It means learning by doing.  It means reading lots of things from a variety of sources and subjects.  It means learning together as a family.  And it looks a little something like this:


In Progress…

Oh goodness.  I’m being pulled in many directions these days, and I’m sure that many of my readers can relate.

I’m working hard at my simplifying project, and I keep having to remind myself that it gets worse before it gets better.  Am I the only one who finds this to be so?  Our new bedroom is basically finished, but there are still odds and ends to be done.  We’re decluttering like mad, but that means there are piles of things in every corner.

My doula business has been launched, and I’m pleased to have a client waiting for her precious new baby.  I’m making sure that my childcare plans are settled and my bag is ready.

We joined a homeschool co-op this fall, and we’re still finding our way in that new routine.  Additionally, we’ve found ourselves making new friends in a different community of home learners that fell into our laps rather unexpectedly.  It’s exciting to connect with families that share similar values.

I wish this post could be a bit more colorful, but in the process of digging through our belongings, I seem to have misplaced my camera charger.  I’m hoping it shows up soon because I love all the sights of autumn!