star wars school!

when you're 39 1/2 weeks pregnant with baby #4 you challenge your own anti-workbook stance and buy Star Wars-themed reading, writing, and math books for your homeschooled kids! the kids are stoked because workbooks are such a novelty, you're happy because school involves NO prep or planning for your tired body, and your home is peaceful because there's still a sense of order and routine (& time to finish up nesting projects!)!

pin the dress on the baby

pin the dress contrast.jpg

shepherd drew a picture of the baby and suggested we play "pin the dress on the baby," so here's heron, the undefeated champion.

and a sidenote : when josh and i are privileged with date time we stay home and work on house projects together or go antiquing. the lath wall behind the crib is the product of last week's nesting date, thanks to our friend melissa for weekly childcare!

memory map

i started stitching this memory map when the kids were making maps to earn their wolf badge with Wild Explorers Club. cascade locks (in the columbia river gorge) has become one of our family's favorite places to explore. some favorite memories placed + stitched : hot cocoa with ally wilton and her kids (while dave & josh mixed 'Home' back at home / picking blackberries (every summer) / shepherd and josh chopping down a christmas tree for a kinfolk shoot (our first introduction to the place) / flying balsa wood glider planes with josh / a picnic with grandma & grandpa. i was inspired by the multi-media map-making ideas in Map Art Lab. as a textile artist, this was the ideal map-making medium for me!

pippin the bear

every year i seem to be a little too ambitious with homemade christmas gifts for the amount of time i give myself to complete them. yes, i procrastinate. still. will i ever learn? so this year, i made an attainable goal for myself : make one softie. not for each child. no, just for one. so per-bear got a crocheted teddy bear, and heron & shepherd each got a hazel village softie (which we'd given per for his birthday). 

i used the pattern from edward's menagerie, & after watching youtube videos & reading comment threads to figure out the difference between american and british crochet terms, it ended up taking me less than a week to complete. so my new goal is to make three softies before the baby is born in early march. i think i can do this! yes! a sheep for shepherd, a bunny for heron, and a cow for the baby (this will make more sense once we share the baby's name! maybe...?)

heron made a little woodland felt hat for pippin. and delightedly we discovered that he fits into the hazel village sailboat romper perfectly!

our (mostly) quiet december

we are attempting a year-round school schedule this year, which meant no school for the entire month of december. this will also give us a month off when the baby arrives in march, though it means a wee shorter summer break. so far, this schedule has been perfect for us. 

december was quiet & peaceful, a contrast to the hurriedness of previous years. it was a month of intentionality, focus, and rest. so often, i am torn between my roles as homemaker, teacher, and mother. i can spend all day with my kids and feel like i was never really with them. this month i tried to say "yes" to them as often as possible. this meant saying yes to most of their whims, which mostly meant baking, reading, and crafting. and we all needed a month of just that. we limited errands, did almost no christmas shopping, i disengaged almost entirely from social media & email, and focused on the joyful peace of the advent season. 

josh was around for the whole month (except for a four day mini-tour), & he even joined in on many of our crafty & culinary adventures. this month i caught him saying things like, "i had no idea--I LOVE ARTS & CRAFTS!" and "i think i'd like to try embroidery, too! (if you can find me some cool scandinavian folk art designs to stitch)" and "i don't know what happened, but i just spent $80 on craft supplies at collage; the kids and i are going to make christmas ornaments!" this same man was found adding the finishing touches to said christmas ornaments and our gingerbread house (which we made with our friends the aylwards and their six beautiful daughters!) even after the kids were in bed, & spent enough time in the kitchen to earn his own (manly) apron.

somehow the things i learned about a more restful, focused approach to our days set a new tone for us, a new standard for myself. i am carrying these lessons into a new year, taking a more restful approach to the days, & continuing to be more present with my kids. this means less multi-tasking, being truly available to my children in the present moment. surprisingly, even with this mindset, we are still finishing our school lessons, i am still getting meals on the table, mostly keeping the house in order, and spending more time sitting down to stitch. it is a lovely thing to not feel frazzled. 


portland snow day!

such an enchanted day--a rare & magical treat in these parts--SNOW!!! though josh had planned to give me the whole day for lesson planning for this semester, it was hard to hide away in the basement & work all day. so... i mostly baked (cinnamon rolls) & played, & we enjoyed a beautiful family day, perfect in every way.


i am a gift-giver, and i tend to get carried away at christmas time, often to the point of getting really stressed out because i'm trying to find or create the perfect gifts that will perfectly communicate the love & knowledge i have for my loved ones. and... far too often i wait until the last minute. but i was determined to approach the season differently this year. the stress & intensity i take into the month can so easily over-shadow the season of celebrating Christ's birth. 

so i planned way ahead this year. i started making lists for each person months ago, mostly kept to it, & kept it simple. the kids each got some new books, jammies, a softie, a down comforter + duvet (per already had one, so i made him a pillowcase), a couple of instant-gratification playthings (miniatures for heron's woodland scenes she creates in vintage crates on the wall beside her bed, some Legos & playmobil things for the boys), and wooden blocks to share.

christmas day was followed by two celebrations with extended family--the garrels/bent family for the following two days after christmas, then the ramsdales after that, along with my mom out from north carolina for the week, into the new year.

what a perfect end to 2015! a month of mostly rest, followed by familial celebration. we felt wholly ready to embrace the new year, to dive back into work & school & routines, after a whole month away. i am liking this year-round schooling thing!

first-ever family portrait session

after ten years of marriage, and three (almost four) children, josh & i decided to get some portraits taken for the first time. isn't it such a grown-up thing to send out christmas cards? so this was the year, & we are so happy we asked nicole to be our photographer. we are not formal people, & we love that she captured the candid laughing, playing, and loving times we so often share together as a family. these photos will be family heirlooms. 

tenth anniversary


(last year)

we first discovered korakia pensione last year for our ninth anniversary. though we'd secured childcare for an anniversary getaway, we hadn't made any real plans. our anniversary is november 19th; on wednesday november 18th, 2014, i miscarried the baby who would've been our fourth child. it is hard to describe the grace that God displays during those times of sorrow. but if you've been through it, you know. hours before the miscarriage i'd had the sweetest time of prayer, alone in the early morning by the fire, the house still quiet, and though i was already sensing something was going wrong with the pregnancy, i told God i loved Him and trusted Him and cried tears of joy because i knew He was and would continue to be with me. He filled me with such peace. a difficult day followed that time of prayer, but all along He carried me.

the following day we were making last-minute plans for our getaway (we haven't tended to take trips for our anniversary; it is usually just a dinner out, so we'd been planning to stay local), and i couldn't bear to be at the stormy oregon coast. i told josh i needed the sun. we found last-minute tickets to palm springs, & a quick online search directed me to korakia pensione. the cost of airfare & lodging hadn't been planned for in our budget, but we felt the Lord's peace, so we booked them in faith. within hours we received word of a song placement for josh, & the entire cost of our trip was covered.

we stayed in a suite (behind josh in the second picture) with a fireplace and a stone tub opening up to a private patio, with a view of the san jacinto mountains. the Lord is so good, and His kindness truly overflows. since i was still bleeding i couldn't be in the pool, or in a bathing suit in public; the suite He provided for us had a private patio so i could still be in the sun! when we arrived, miles davis' "kind of blue" was on the turntable--the album soundtrack to our first kiss in peru fifteen years ago. it was such an incredible and meaningful time, and such a peaceful place, we knew we needed to head back to korakia for our tenth anniversary, too. 

(this year)

this year we stayed in the orchard house, a lovely secluded place with a private little orange grove with sofas & lit lanterns hanging from the trees at night, and an outdoor patio with fireplace, spa, & seating area. korakia is a bed an breakfast, so we enjoyed daily breakfasts in the main courtyard with the other guests, and most of our lunches & dinners in, too. with such a spectacular space, why would we leave? and also, even when josh & i are away from home, we're homebodies ;)

what a blessing it was this year to enjoy the fullness of celebration, with no sorrow mingled in. ten years of beautiful marriage, pregnant with another child, what joy!


welcome to the new domestic! i started working on this site months ago, behind the scenes, & i'm so happy to finally share it with you! i am often asked about the how & why & what of homeschooling, & the answer is so lengthy, i decided to put it all up on a website! but there’s more to the story, & it involves the discovery of what edith schaeffer calls "the hidden art" of homemaking, and a growing love of the domestic life.

while a portion of my personal domesticity has come to include homeschooling, i believe true, lovely, and joyful homemaking can be so much more, whether or not you are a full-time stay-at-home-mom : the choosing of nourishing foods for our families, the intentional soul-tending of our children, the offering of hospitality, and the making of a peaceful & lovely home space. 

for me, homemaking has also meant the loving release of my musical husband to do more of the traveling than i these days. as a young wander-lusty jungle worker, i never would’ve imagined this life i live now. but oh, the depths of joy are found here--here at home. 

if you're new to this site, and/or new to homeschooling, be sure to visit the HOMESCHOOL HELPS tab. while every family will surely have different needs, learning styles, and curriculum interests, here i've consolidated much of what has worked for our family. when i first began to research home education as an option for our family, i felt overwhelmed by the learning curve, & desperate for inspiring resources. though i am still a novice homeschooler, and certainly no expert, i hope something you find here will help you chart a course for your own family.

blog logo handmade by the sweet & lovely mama + children’s book illustrator denise holmes.

perry's birthday party

since we were in north carolina visiting my mom + touring with josh over per's birthday, we had a simple family birthday celebration for him this year. on sunday mom, the kids & i drove from charlotte to asheville to meet up with josh. on the way back to charlotte the following day we found an idyllic little spot on lake james in the foothills of the blue ridge mountains to have a little party. family + cookies + birthday candles + presents + a pretty little spot in the sun = the perfect day! 

peregrin jude garrels, age 3

peregrin jude means "pilgrim of praise," and so aptly named he was. this big boy is THREE years old today, and i want to freeze time. and exciting it will be to watch him grow! he is so sweet, with such a tender spirit, full of love, joy, stories, and adventure. he fills our lives with giggles and snuggles, pirate scenes and ninja moves. and he's my constant kitchen aide. here's to another wonderful year, per-bear! happy birthday! 

*sweet little birthday coat + scarf by willaby clothier in athens, GA

our new reader

what a joy to come downstairs at the end of our afternoon quiet time & discover heron so engrossed in a book. she has been reading for months now, but today i saw her, for the first time, truly loving a good story, unable to peel herself away. my heart is glad.

a once and present pastime

in the evenings lately our family has been settling into the living room between 6:30 and 7:00, tea and projects in hand, and listening to an audiobook together around our fake (electric, portable) fireplace. heron draws, shepherd plays with playmobil figures, per plays or looks at books or lays on josh's lap or wiggles about, josh listens, and i crochet. it is just this year that i've discovered, through teaching my own children, that i am a kinesthetic learner--i need to be doing something with my hands to engage my ears. josh, a musician, an auditory learner, can simply listen. imagine that!

i have become one of those ladies who brings her embroidery or crochet project to church with her every sunday. one of those ladies who i always figured simply couldn't stop her productivity even for an hour-long sermon. now i am one of them, and i know that they, like me, actually listen best with their hands in use.

when i was about heron's age i would ride my bike over to grandma pritchard's house for crochet lessons every saturday, yarn & hook in my huffy's flowered woven basket. she wasn't my real grandmother, but simply "grandma pritchard" to everyone on the missionary base, all of us lacking the presence and mentorship of our own grandparents who would've otherwise taught us these skills. but every week we would sit together with my pink acrylic yarn and continue working on my stuffed bunny, its belly stabilized with a l'eggs pantyhose canister, or a vest for my mom, too warm for her to ever wear. the humidity of the jungle so thick, those acrylic yarns so sticky in our fingers that we'd shower them with baby powder to get the yarn to slide.

now i am crocheting again, for the first time in at least a decade, teaching my daughter heron to crochet. beautiful woolen yarns now, as fall descends upon us, our family gathered around the fake fire, with tea, and i begin a blanket for our newest little one.

nature day : ridgefield national wildlife refuge

on saturday our family adventured to ridgefield national wildlife refuge, just over the border in washington. the landscape reminded us of our dear old midwest, with prairie and deciduous trees and open expanse. we fell so in love that josh has gone back the past three days since then, and the kids and i returned yesterday after our school studies were done.

little barefoot hikers

between our two visits we encountered great egrets, a great blue heron, barn swallows, blue-winged teals, canada geese, mallards, ospreys, prairie falcons, western painted turtles, wooly bear caterpillars, and even a coyote! (here is the extensive list of wildlife to be sighted at this serene spot)

long have i wondered what this prevalent beauty of autumn is called : teasel. some teasel we encountered still had their summertime frocks of tiny purple blossoms, reminiscent of thistle.

heron, nicknamed "little blue", came upon a great blue heron, within ten yards before it flew away.

queen anne's lace, forever my favorite wildflower.

heron spreading wild fluffy seeds in the wind

caring for our wooly bear caterpillars

school photos : Mississippi Academy, 2015-1016

Heron Selah Garrels, 1st Grade

Shepherd Zuri Garrels, Kindergarten

Shepherd Zuri Garrels, Kindergarten

Peregrin Jude Garrels, Preschool

Peregrin Jude Garrels, Preschool

Last year...

Heron Selah Garrels, Kindergarten

Peregrin Jude Garrels, Preschool

Lucy VanPelt, Kindergarten

Shepherd Zuri Garrels, Preschool

first day of school!

we were so ready to start school this year! it was a wonderful summer, but we were all greatly in need of some routine and focus again. 

last year my summer prep for school mainly involved pulling a classroom together. this summer, with a first grader to teach this time (along with a kindergartener & a preschooler), my prep involved a major curriculum overhaul. 

last year heron was in kindergarten; i was also homeschooling her friend lucy for the first semester, perry was in preschool two blocks away, & shepherd was just along for the ride. it was both harder and easier than this year. in many ways it was a trial year--the first year i was really giving homeschooling a go, yet without a first-grader there was really no pressure to have everything figured out--yet. 

having lucy with us was fun, and it made me get extra-serious from the get-go about organization, filing, records, planning, supplies, learning spaces, etc. i grew SO much that semester, and it helped me enter into this school year so much more confidently. i'd had a year to work with my kids to learn a little more about their learning styles, & which curricula/educational approach worked for our family. i was able to approach this year with a clear vision, firm convictions, and a starting place for a schedule. 

we are off to a good start, & ready to learn & grow together!