summer is over

just like that, summer is over. even though the calendar does not officially announce the arrival of fall for another few weeks, many of us are sitting here envisioning the next few months: cooler (finally!) temperature, apple picking, cider, scarves, boots, and how the world around us is about to turn into shades of yellow, orange and red.

i am, and probably forever will be, a summer gal. i like fall, but i don't love what comes after...so i usually just tell people i don't like fall. besides, summer always reminds me of the good memories i have growing up in southern california. and honestly, it is during the summer season i see how much the kids are growing. and i also just love all the memories we are making in these three short months, even when we are not road-tripping and the only outing is the local pool.

so, yeah. here are some little snippets of some of my favorites from this year. the greatest thing about them is that each of these tell a different story about the last three months. 

stephanie + nick, 6.24.16 | a wedding

There once was a monkey who swung from limb to limb in search of another to love him. The trees were shaky and the limbs would break and all the girl monkeys were either too hairy or too fake. What to make of this, the monkey did not know, until an owl smiled at him and said hello. Together they jumped, hopped and skipped from limb to limb, not breaking a single one of them. He found his partner, he found his friend and every day he falls in love with her over and over again.
— nick kile, on the day he proposed to stephanie

the simply reading project

hey! so, thanks for being interested in doing this simply reading project with us. our greatest hope is for each of us to gain an understanding of what grace looks like on a daily basis. i'm going to be completely honest with you...for a LONG time, i struggle really hard with placing my identity in the wrong place. stepping away from that place, finding the right books to read and praying more than ever in the last year have really helped me refocus. 

back in january, molly, courtney and i started reading simply tuesday by emily p. freeman and did a weekly project based on the book. you can see the whole entire project here. we have learned so much both together and personally. because we had so much fun doing it, we have decided to do it again...and this time we would love to invite you to join us!

so, here are some details on this simply reading {photo} project, if you'd like to join us:

-please get a copy of Gloria Furman's Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home. you can either get a hard copy or the kindle version. it doesn't matter. we will start emailing the weekly quote starting tuesday, may 10th. our hope is to do one chapter per week. but you're welcome to do it at your own pace. :)

-email me ( rowaszaj@gmail.com ) or leave me a comment under my instagram post about this (or molly's, or courtney's) about your interest in joining this project, so we can send you our 'weekly quote' (from each chapter.) once you have the quote, you get to create an image every week based on your interpretation of this quote. 

-in your email, also let me know your website/blog address. this way we can hop over and visit your beautiful stories!

-if you'd like to post your pictures on instagram, please remember to #simplyreadingproject.

again, we are hoping you will find some deeper meaning in managing your daily mundane and a satisfying stillness by doing this project with us. don't worry too much about the weekly deadlines. we missed some of them, too! although we do love to connect and network via social media, that is not the sole meaning of this project. we hope to help you find a tool to create more calm in the midst of your {already} chaos by meditating on meaningful words and some quiet time. please do spread the word if you think someone may benefit from this! and in doing so, we pray that you will learn something great about yourself and the gospel of grace. cheers!

recently

yea...not much is going on. life is busy, but we are not overwhelmed. we are in this weird (but fulfilling) season of being still. we live with the mundane on a daily basis, but God is bringing a beauty out of this ordinary. we are learning what it is like to be His children. we are learning to go outside of our comfort zone to build relationships with people we don't know--with no strings attached. we are learning to sympathize and pray for those who are less fortunate than we. most of all, we are learning to be thankful for the little gifts we receive on a daily basis. 

more updated pictures here!

 

this sweet season

as we wrapped up our second term of this school year early this morning, i was forced to face the reality that we still have one more term (12 weeks) to go. i remember a lifetime ago, when i was still teaching in a classroom setting, around this time of the year was perhaps the hardest time to endure during the 180 days of school. summer was so close i could almost taste it; yet the truth was school was still in session. years later, even though i no longer teach in a classroom setting, this mentality still rings true. 

this is our second year treading on this still-unfamiliar waters of homeschooling. even though my heart resonates with the charlotte mason method ever since the beginning, every day is still a learning process. i don't have it together all the time and i struggle with impatience. sometimes we forget to do our history and sometimes we omit science on purpose simply because we just don't feel it. 

but we also have the freedom to go on a trail and climb on boulders with some friends and call it a good day at school. or we entertain (or act on) the thought of abandoning our weekly plans for a few good books to read instead. sometimes a school day is simply to start and finish dirty laundry. other times it means we get to go on a road trip during the week. these sweet opportunities to make memories with my three growing children and the chance to teach them simple life skills outweighs any benefit that may come with 'following the rules.'

 

homeschooling may not be for every family. that was my thought until i began to do my own learning and research almost two years ago. one of the most important lessons i have learned during this period of discovery was that i really didn't know much about this subject. all the preconceived notions i had about homeschooling were based on my own ignorance and lack of knowledge. ironically, i have been trying to teach my kids to not make a judgement on something (or someone) until they really get to know it (him/her.) for our family, as of this specific season in life, we are called to homeschool. i can't foresee the future and i do not know where we will be in five years, two years, or even next year. i just know we are called to trust the Lord's calling to do this one year, one term, one season at a time. and while i am in it, even though it does get difficult, it is always a sweet season. 

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2015

a year and a half ago we made a life-altering decision to homeschool. i never thought we would be walking on this path one day; but there was a steady nudge in my heart. even though i didn't understand this nudge fully, i knew this : it meant i were to give up pursuing my wants now for the sake of my children's later. it also meant i were to be still and trust the Lord for this sacred calling. my pride didn't take this well. it has been a daily surrender. but His way is always better than my plans for myself. what i expected was constantly making mistakes and losing control. what I didn't expect was despite all the mistakes i'm making during a typical week 'in school,' there is also much joy and peace that come with this experience...and-9 road trps later(!)-all the sweet memories we are building.

may this coming new year be a blessed one for you. cheers to 2016!

 


november project 2015

for the past three years, a group of good friends and i have been doing a 'november project.' for 30 days straight, we are to document the seemingly minuscule events in our lives and really look at these events with a thankful attitude. because they are small moments, i take these events for granted. this project reminds me of the little things in life that i really should be grateful for, even if they are mundane...especially in a month like this. join (or follow) my personal month-long project here. :)

maciek nabrdalik

recently i came across a quote by journalist maciek nabrdalik that completely changed my outlook when it came to making images: 

if you choose to call yourself a photojournalist, you want to put the spotlight on your subject not at yourself, nor your creativity nor your talent. the content of your image is most important. so if it’s for the sake of the content then yes, do whatever is needed to document and tell the story and to let your images stand out and be noticed.

for the first time in so many years, i felt it was okay to stop trying to make things look pretty because that was what the world preferred to see. instead, gathering what i saw--those messy slices of life--and make them into a collection of what i wanted to remember actually told a real story. a story that is uniquely my own.  


going back to school...at home

a year ago, both my husband and i felt the calling to pull our two older kids out of public school. homeschooling had always been a foreign term to me. in my mind, only a certain type of families homeschooled. they usually lived on a farm, had 6 or 7 kids, and the girls wore long skirts. having gone to public schools all my life, my ignorant mind couldn't comprehend that homeschooling didn't limit to just one kind of method.

when i started doing my research on homeschooling, i was completely overwhelmed by all the different kinds of ways a family could school its children. but somehow the name charlotte mason kept popping up and the name stuck with me. curious, i researched on her methods and i was immediately drawn to them--children were encouraged to go outdoors, read classic literature that contained moral values and good vocabularies, training the children to adapt learning as a lifelong process were all the goods that captivated my heart. 

so...without completely knowing what i was doing, we began our first year's homeschooling journey. looking back, i tried the best i knew how to educate them the charlotte mason way. i am sure i didn't do it right in so many aspects. but one thing i learned during the first year was...i had to completely let go my controlling and worries. if God had called us to homeschool the CM way (which i truly believed He did,) He would sustain us. and He did. even if it meant not knowing exactly what we were doing the very next day. the biggest reward was being able to give my older two the freedom to just be kids. there was no having to sit a certain way, no long lessons that would probably bore them eventually, no drilling worksheets, no being caged inside a building for six hours straight. they learned through experiencing, exploring new worlds in the books they had (www.amblesideonline.org,) and through playing. i thanked the Lord each and every day for the opportunity to provide them a real childhood...something i never got to experience.

people have been asking me many questions. and i have been completely honest with myself and with them. i have no idea how long we would be called to homeschool. i have no idea if charlotte mason would always be how i choose to homeschool. but as the first day of school is approaching, i am only certain that we are to do this again this coming school year. we have the books and weekly schedule ready...and that is about it. the only other thing we will really need is His daily grace...but i know it will be provided.

our year 2 books. you can get the complete list from ambleside online dot org.

our year 2 books. you can get the complete list from ambleside online dot org.


one book per week, every week

in the beginning of june, i had this crazy idea of reading one book per week, every week for the whole entire summer. it was an ideal more than a project that i planned to complete.

i picked out my first book. i got so into it that i finished the book in three days.

after that first book, i reevaluated my 'plan.' at that point, i began to believe this project was actually achievable. besides, i remembered the feeling of being completely lost in a really good story. when you were willing to abandon all responsibilities. when you were okay skipping meals. when you longed to lock yourself in the bathroom just so you could finish one more page, paragraph, chapter.

almost ten weeks later, i am currently on my twelfth read. this morning i had another crazy idea that maybe i should keep this 'project' going for a whole entire year. i know it will help me think, write, create. after all, in order to be able to tell a good story...one has to know good stories. right?

my twelfth read. my ninth-grade cliffnotes version does not count.

my twelfth read. my ninth-grade cliffnotes version does not count.

journaling

i remember getting my very first diary when i was about six years old. it was a small hardcover-notebook with a tiny lock that bound the opening. the pages were saturated with light-scented perfume and it was the most perfect thing for little girls my age. 

i was told back then that i could write down whatever i had in mind onto those perfume-filled pages. any secret, any thought, good or bad. i was elated for this new given freedom. at six years old, i faithfully filled each page daily; so afraid that if i missed one day, this freedom would be taken away from me.

years later, i filled more than half a dozen notebooks with memories of my childhood. i found some a few years ago when my husband and i were about to make our cross-country move with our three children. i sat next to the cardboard boxes and flipped through the pages and saw my early life flashing before my eyes. i chuckled at the immature words and sentences. but they also encouraged. they reminded me i am no longer who i once-was. i promised myself that day i would never stop journaling.

these handwritten words in the pages of my journal confirm that from an early age I have experienced each encounter in my life twice: once in the world, and once again on the page.” -terry tempest williams