our family adventures

At Home in Texas as a family of 7!

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When we arrived in Washington, two years and three months ago, we had merely picked a place on the map and jumped. Drawn to the fresh air, the tall trees and the fog that settled low on the mountains. It was a place to rest, a safe place to grow. We planted seeds and waited through the cold winter. Far from anything and anyone familiar. We wrestled. We surrendered and held our breath awaiting spring. In that cold, as husband and wife, we dug deep into past hurts and saw that although we had been on the adventure together, for so long we had been walking alone. In that moment we chose to fight hard for the good. The light persisted, breaking down all our walls; it was hope. It was gentleness. We began to document all of our gratitude flowing out of the struggle and our list of thanks grew and grew. Our seeds took root and blossomed. Warmth opened the petals and we saw one another anew. The soft springtime breeze carried that love into every corner of our darkness until only hope remained. In April we renewed sacred vows, bare toes in the meadow with the laughter of our children as our melody of grace in all the days that followed. With an undeserved gift woven from all the broken threads being knit together within me, a baby boy. Redemption.

For the first time in our marriage we prayed together. We listened for guidance. And over time we felt a calling to step out, from the mossy forest to a land drenched in warmth. A season for all things new, as we no longer need a place to burrow in; but a place to give, to share, to build community, and to hold our faces up to the sun and exhale. Hearts engulfed, souls exposed, arms open wide, control released, prayers lifted up, we took the leap. With my belly ripe and expectancy hanging thick, we held tight to each other and the calling that whispered from deep within. And now we are here, in the Texas Hill Country, all seven of us, this new tiny babe cooing sweetly upon my chest. We aren't clear as to what the next chapter holds but we know we must choose gentle words, tenderness and humility to light the way. And for now, we bask in evenings flooded with pink sunsets and wide open skies, giving thanks for the abundant mercy raining down all around us.

 

Here are photographs of our days so far here in Texas… the first half expectant for a miracle and the second half savoring our new baby boy.

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on january 1st, the day ushering in all things new, our son was born. smith james prouty. 7 pounds, 4 ounces and 19 inches long. born in the living room of our new home in the wee hours of the morning. s_0042s_0043s_0044s_0045s_0046s_0047s_0048s_0049s_0050s_0051s_0052s_0053s_0054s_0055s_0056s_0057s_0058s_0059s_0060s_0061s_0062s_0063s_0064s_0065s_0066s_0067s_0068s_0069s_0070s_0071s_0072s_0073s_0074s_0075s_0076s_0077s_0078s_0079s_0080s_0081s_0082s_0083s_0084

Homeschooling on our homestead.

“The teacher’s desire is to so feed her students and whet their apetities that they will naturally value books and come to feed themselves… we, like Charlotte Mason, wish to have children take their places in the world at their best, with every capacity of good in them developed into a power. Children have a vast and rich intellectual and spiritual inheritance to draw upon for their present and future. Living books and ideas; a brood curriculum filled with the realities of truth, goodness, and beauty; and a constellation of natural relationship will put them in touch with this inheritance. What they will become we do not know – but we have hope that they will become all God has planned them to be, whether parent, artist, factory worker, business owner, doctor, lawyer, or teacher. We hope this because the ‘who’ of children is secure – all we need do is to place them in a large room spread with an abundant feast of learning.” – Jack Beckman

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at the very bottom of this post you will find a video - it is actually a recorded talk i gave (just in vimeo format for ease of listening here) at the wild and free homeschooling conference held in portland, oregon last month. i have had many people over the years ask about why and how we homeschool and i feel like this talk will explain a lot of that. and for the parents that don't homeschool, i still encourage you to listen! so much of what i talk about is purely our genuine desire to ignite a curiosity and love of learning in our children, an appreciation and respect for nature and the importance of nurturing their individual gifts through intentional decisions in the everyday. so after you look through these images, and when you have 35 minutes to relax and listen, the video will be waiting for you.

these photographs are the documentation of my very favorite week that i can remember, the second week of april. the apple blossoms had just begun to bloom on our trees, we were preparing our garden for planting, the dandelions were thick in the tall green grass, and everywhere we looked, the earth was ripe with the fresh beauty of spring.

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“If we want our children to stay hungry for knowledge, remain interested in questioning, enjoy the wonder of discovery, then we must leave them some clutter-free hours for friendship, the great out-of-doors, the rich world of imagination and the satisfaction of the skilled use of art supplies, music, dance, wood and clay.”

– Elaine Cooper

 

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“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

― G.K. Chesterton

 

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“Together teacher and child are under a higher authority. The child should not be asked to be good to please a parent or teacher. Children and the adults both must choose to obey God. Both are learning to be better people, and both children and adults are interested in learning from books, nature, art, music. Ideas are discussed. Thought is important. Children have amazing ideas and grow in proper self-esteem as they are listened to and allowed to be themselves. Too many of us treat education as a competition, with some idea of success as the objective. The approach is bad for the winners and bad for the losers, who only see themselves more or less as failures. Such a narrow focus ignores children’s strong points, their gifts.”

– Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

 

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you will find the talk i gave on homeschooling below! my husband and i made the decision to begin homeschooling our children while we were living on the road two years ago. we were not in one place long enough to enroll them in traditional school and felt that adventure had sparked a flame for learning in our children. they journaled and gained knowledge in the roots of nature… yellowstone national park, the grand teton mountains, the redwood forest. we thought we may consider a waldorf style education once we settled but we had fallen in love with homeschooling. our family bond has been strengthened, our children have flourished, and we have truly seen the benefits of being able to cater our style of teaching toward the individual gifts of each child and the way that each learn best. we follow the charlotte mason classically-based principles of education and use amblesideonline.org curriculum. we do not know what the future holds, of course, but as long as homeschooling seems to be the most beneficial choice for needs of the children and for our family, we hope to continue on throughout their education.

click play below for my wild & free conference recording...

Joy Prouty - Homeschooling Talk: WILD & FREE from joy prouty on Vimeo.

a prouty summertime film.

the first frost has arrived.  the pumpkin vines have dried up, the last of the apples have fallen from the trees and the ground is frozen solid making us steady ourselves for the winter ahead.  we've lived here now for a whole year and what a wild ride it has been. our move here forced us to be quiet and listen. in a sense, we didn't expect a season of healing, i think i had expected the honeymoon period to last longer. with the extreme financial burden lessened (compared to our past southern california life) we had time to dig deep. we faced hard truths and i'm convinced that if i was the maple tree outside my window and you peeked inside my trunk, i'd have added twenty rings just this one year. i am doing a lot of personal writing. i've never been a blogger that feels she needs to share her every moment and blog everyday. i need time for all the jumbled thoughts and emotions need to settle a while and i need time to allow God to speak to me in the stillness. saying, "does this bring me glory, Joy?" sometimes that is a difficult question to answer and so i grow in the waiting. the visibly short seasons, however continue to fly by at lightning speed reminding us of the bittersweet reality that life does keep going on and on, no matter how hard we try and slow it down with simple living. the kids are losing teeth and learning multiplication, and forming strong opinions that make me laugh and cry every single day.  we blast the music loud in the mornings and then we deeply crave time in nature. it takes a lot more bundling up now but, taking in that first big breath of cold mountain air, well, there's nothing like it. we practically lived outside in our garden all summer; digging, planting, pulling out the bad stuff and adding as much nourishment into the soil in hopes of future harvest.  we are huddled inside now by a roaring fire and it feels so comforting, and i know needed, but i am sure missing my view of the sunflowers.

*all footage copyright protected: wildflowers photography/don & joy prouty.

*music licensed from the music bed:  darling by handsome and gretyl & adventures by holley maher

Our visits to Little House & Ingalls Homestead!

i have so much to tell you about the Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, South Dakota but let me begin with just this one photo of my feisty/deep/soulful/wild/introverted gracie girl.  on that day, she truly was laura ingalls straight out of the Little House on the Prairie stories.  visiting the place where laura wrote and grew up was gracie's dream come true!01so we just returned from a six week roadtrip driving from our home in washington to rochester, new york and back.  we had plenty of things booked along the way but the one thing i was looking forward to more than anything else was surprising gracie with some visits to the Little House on the Prairie homesites across the midwest!  we visited two.  aside from south dakota we also visited the homesite of the Little House in the Big Woods where the original log cabin was built.  it was destroyed long ago but in it's place is an exact replica - you can see our photos from that at the bottom of this post!  disclaimer:  daily life is hard.  traveling with kids and living on the road is hard.  but days like this one are what make it all worth it.  (so i'm really soaking up every last beautiful memory of it and allowing the poop/pee/puke/sleepless travel memories to quietly lay low.)

so now about the Ingalls Homestead.  it's a dream.  by far, this was the highlight of all the places we have visited on our family roadtrips over the years.  perhaps it was because we have become so invested in the stories of the ingalls and have read a good portion of laura's books in the series.  as we were driving the 30+ hours one way we actually listened to two full audiobooks as a family (on the banks of plum creek & the long winter) so when we arrived at the homestead the kids were already pumped and in full character. gracie is of course laura.  clementine took on the character of mary.  mabel was baby carrie and brandon was jack, the dog.  on the day we went we were practically the only visitors... it was pure magic.  i can still almost feel the way the wind was blowing through my hair and whipping around the dresses of my girls as they ran across the prairie grass.

(i will tell you about each thing between the photos as you scroll down...)2.5 so the homestead is a large open space on the tallgrass prairie.  it is surrounded by wheat and corn fields for hundreds of miles and the buildings are original from the 1880's- early 1900's are all positioned around one big grassy space with plenty of room to run and play barefoot.  the barn above is where all the animals live... ponies, cows, kittens and the horses that pull the covered wagons.  this is about the middle of the homestead.  just beside that is Ma and Pa's house... you can see the kids on their porch.  all of the buildings are open and the children are encouraged to play with and explore every part of the working original homestead so the kids' imaginations were running wild, kind of like an authentic indoor/outdoor children's museum (but with much more meaning and purpose).2 3

they have the covered wagon's available to take you (with the kids assisting the horse driving) on a tour around around Pa's farmland and up to the original one room schoolhouse where the Ingalls girls actually went to school. 4 5 the running free was their favorite part.  8.4 8.58 10.5 10 11 this little place that they are inside below is the "dugout home" (modeled after the house from On the Banks of Plum Creek).12 13 here is the hayroof barn.  the happiest place for our kids that they can remember.  it was just full of baby kittens and chickens!  they each just scooped up a kitten or two and sang and danced from one place to the next in the sunshine.  and yes, it really was as magical as i am making it sound.  14.5 14 15 16 can't you just see the BLISS on their faces?!17 18 19 so the (very bumpy and peaceful) covered wagon ride took us to the Little Schoolhouse!20 everything is just as it was.  the desks even have some of the ingalls girls' carvings in the wood.

21 22.5 22 24 this is quote and this photograph are my favorite.25 26 27 28 this is Ma's garden.  the wild wind was blowing gracie's hair as she smelled each plant and walked through the rows.  she was just FEELING it.  truly, feeling it.31 32 33.4 33.5 inside of Ma's house!33 34 35.5 35 36they each took a sunset horseback ride.37 3840 this was the lookout tower.  Pa said he would look out from the top and say the the land they picked was "just right in every way".41 42 this was really special!  they had a workshop for the kids to make rope and cornhusk dolls.43 44 45 just before we left to drive through the night, i asked gracie if her and i could have a little time just the two of us and for her to take me to her favorite place on the whole homestead.  she grabbed my hand and her book and we ran straight toward the hay roof barn with the kittens.  a baby calf had also just been born right inside (there to her left inside the barn door she was talking to it).  she grabbed a cat, fixed her hair, stood in the warmth of the sun and told me "okay i'm ready for my picture on the prairie".  and then i cried happy tears.  this place brought her to life.  a side of her that was new to me and so very full of excitement and wonder. 4647

our time there was incredibly special.

and here are the photos from our visit to the homesite of the Little House in the Big Woods in Pepin, Wisconsin.  it was so humble and simple and pretty much one big log room with a fireplace and a separation for sleeping quarters.  1 2 3 4 5 6 i saw my children bloom visiting these places.  and the best part is that it is still continuing.  they have been in Ingalls character a good portion of every day since we visited and now back home, they are already making plans with their "Pa" (as clementine now has renamed donny) to build their own kid-sized log cabin from our fallen wooden branches in the yard.  that's the best part of traveling isn't it?  that it excites and starts a fire inside you for something fresh, something with greater purpose, something deeper.  and that once you return home that you make it your own and put it into practice.  we are so very happy to be home but i know that we will revisit this special time in our minds and dreams in our journals for years to come.7

springtime is happy time!

the past few weeks here have felt like such a gift.  the weather is warming, the baby is walking, the trees are flowering, the days are growing longer and hope feels thick in the air.  everything is new.  we arrived in washington at the very end of october just in time to see the last colored leaves fall from the trees, so to see everything now bursting into glory around us is just spectacular!  all my life i had dreamed of seeing cherry and apple blossoms in real life.  when i was tiny, i listened to my grandpa tell the story over and over of this one day he saw my grandma 70 years or so ago... he had just returned from war and it was spring, at the peak of cherry blossom season in washington d.c. and my grandma walked down a big flight of steps wearing a white sweater with curls in her hair and she smiled right at him.  he said he saw her walk towards him beneath those cherry trees dropping their petals and he knew that she would forever be his "sweater girl" - and she would always roll her eyes and give him a little wink every time he told the story.  and ever since, i had dreamed of seeing the blossoms.  my grandparents have already gone to heaven and my grandpa never got the chance to meet my babies, but this last week as we have been preparing the garden and my little ones have been running barefoot blowing dandelions and dancing beneath the blossoming trees, i have felt him there.  i think that's the beauty of this country life.  slowing the busyness enough to find the beauty in the quiet.  hands deep in the earth, breathing in the beauty of change and allowing God to use nature to weave the stories of these days. there are a LOT of photographs here.  some of these are my favorites i have ever taken of my children.  i hope you love them too.  i have written a bit of what we have been doing next to the photos as i go.  first, we have a few new additions to our homestead... sheep!  the sweetest sheep!  the mama is candy cane and her two babies are little ninja and clover.  the kids spend so much time with them and are excited to be able join 4-h soon and be a part of the farm kid community.

1 2 3 4 6 7 8our chickens started laying!!! oh, the excitement of finding the first egg! 10 11.5 11 it's a dandelion dreamland!  12.5 12 we hung a porch swing beneath the walnut tree.13 14 15.5 16 17.6 17.7 17 18.5 18 19 outdoor school.  nature journaling the cherry blossoms!21 22 23 25 the greenhouse gardens are flourishing!  we have had some warmer days and it gets quite toasty in there.   26 28we started some seeds in the greenhouse for transplanting to the garden.  which is currently being created!  we are using the raised bed method with lots of compost and wood chips.  we will have about an acre all together for our full garden space (pumpkin patch included!). 29 30 31 3233.5 33 lilac in full bloom!  34 35 36 37.539 40.1 40.2 40 41.5 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53.5 53 55.5 55 56 57 58 dreams come to life!59 60 61 62 64

this current season...

so we've been living this new normal for three months now.  i wrote and erased that sentence five times there because while it is our life it still doesn't exactly feel like home.  i think the newness has worn off and the reality has set in.  of being away from my mama.  of not having roots secured.  of feeling the beauty and the loneliness of living a country kind of life.  it is unfamiliar.  it is good.  but that doesn't mean it is easy.  i've been talking to the kids here and there about "home" lately.  what it means.  how to define it to each of them.  it's a strange thing to just pick a place for six people to put down roots, to create new memories, to grow as individuals and as a family.  and i think the best thing i have come up with is that viewing this life in seasons rather than an absolute beginning/middle/end is the best choice for my soul.  the kids are happy, there is no question.  they are so resilient and their imaginations are on fire, no matter what season i find that we are in.  but for me, inside my soul and outside our current walls, it is winter. we arrived in this new place at the tail end of fall.  we drove into our new life so tired of transitioning and not having had a home for consistency and rest.  we arrived in a season of color and change and into a world we had never known was a possibility.  we ran free, we gathered walnuts and apples and soaked in the setting sun.  and then the leaves began to fall until the trees were bare and the apples were rotted.  instead of exploring we had to come inside and we have been hibernating in a sense.  enjoying having a house.  the possibility for naps.  the ability to cook healthy meals for my family and have a table to gather around and linger.  the baby took her first steps a few weeks back in this new house.  the roots are beginning to grow, to take hold.  but she hasn't walked since and so we wait.  we hibernate, waiting for spring and something new that we know is coming but we aren't quite sure what it will look like here or when it will arrive.  our wandering hearts are craving adventure again.  we went from one extreme to the other and  while we do not yearn to live on the road again, we have this thing inside of us that needs to breathe in nature to be calmed and inspired.  i am anxious for the apple and cherry blossoms to explode on our trees.  i've dreamed of seeing that my whole life.  but until then we make fires, we prioritize, we think and talk and create and hope that we are making the right choices every single day.

today i went and bought tulip bulbs for the first time.  i am going to plant them.  i am going to be intentional and put down roots, even tiny ones, with hope that those blooms will come up if i just do the work instead of standing still (which can be so very easy to do when things feel heavy).  no matter what life you choose, it is in the deciding every day not to let it all turn to rubble where is hope is found.

galatians 6:9 says, "and let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."    i know that even loneliness has purpose.  and if it is chasing me to His Word, i can imagine no better reason.  i am clinging to that promise  and i am clinging to my babies.  here are some pictures of life in our current season...

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