family pictures

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When Wren was a couple of weeks old we tried to assemble ourselves in nicer clothes, I threw on some makeup and curled my hair, and we attempted a few family photos by just propping my camera on windowsills and dressers and setting the timer. ¬†Typically family pictures result in some frustration and tears from a few kiddos, but this time it was relatively quick and surprisingly smooth. ¬†I mean, it wasn’t entirely tear-free:

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But as long as Brandon randomly yelled out “snozzcumbers!” and “bellypoppers!” from ¬†the BFG book (the kid’s favorite lately), we got some good laughs and smiles. These children all love Wren so much and all want to hold her so that helped, too. ¬†Philippa and Noah wanted to take some photos with their “phones,” making clicking sound effects as they did.

Tired, puffy (me), and wrinkled though we were, I’m thankful we grabbed a few pictures to remember these early days with our March girl, these early days of becoming a family of six. ¬†Already she has grown and changed so much!

books, yarn, and babies

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Lots of reading, snuggling, dandelion picking, school, imaginative play, and yarn taking up most of our days lately. ¬†Nursing + rock-a-bye babying too. ¬†Quiet days at home mostly, without any sort of hustle out of the house. ¬†Driving each other up the walls sometimes because of all that proximity, finding each other to be our best friends the rest of the time. ¬†With the weather warming up, we are finding ourselves outside more of the day, making garden plans, smelling the earthy scent of soil and honeysuckle on the breeze. ¬†Spring is a shoulder season, a tug-of-war between winter and summer, and lately we see both winter days and summer days, and we don’t mind either one bit.

My mind feels all over the place, too–feeling behind on garden plans and preparations while trying to stay focused on finishing our school year well. ¬†As I’m coming out of the initial recovery period after having Wren (she’s 6 weeks old tomorrow!) I feel my strength and energy returning, and we’ve been out almost daily for walks and fresh air. ¬†I find myself reminded to keep my camera in hand, snapping pictures of our ordinary moments. ¬†I find myself remembering and reorienting to who I am and what I love. ¬†Sometimes I feel like I should rename this blog “books, yarn, and babies,” because it seems I have little head space for much else. ¬†I promise more “soul” content will come soon, at least I believe it will. ¬†But even as I say that, I hear the dichotomy. ¬†I’m learning to remember that, as Gerald Manley Hopkins said,

“Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.”
(As Kingfishers Catch Fire)
He shines in all that’s fair. ¬†I find Him in the simple beauty of my current work, which is laboring over these children and this home, aiming to see Kingdom come, here and now, even if I lose sight of the connection sometimes.

I started this baby blanket for Wren at the end of January, and it feels just right for spring with all the lace and dusty pink. ¬†I gave it a bath last night and blocked it and can’t wait for it to dry so I can snuggle her in it! ¬†I used Quince + Co Osprey yarn which is incredibly squishy, springy, warm and soft. ¬†With it being finished, I’m eager to begin a new project. Finishing things breathes fresh air into me, feels like a clean slate.

I hope wherever you are, you are finding bits and pieces of new life, freshness, spring, and the hope it seems to bring.

family + an easter sweater

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It’s taken me all week to get this blog post out, squeezing in moments here and there to work on it. ¬†Everything seems to take a lot longer these days.

We stayed home Easter morning which felt a bit sad, but with Wren still being only four weeks old and a lot of sickness still lingering in our area, we felt it was best. ¬†I also couldn’t fathom getting everyone dressed and out of the door on time, let alone myself and baby. ¬†We’ve only gone to two dr appointments thus far, otherwise we’ve pretty much been home, so toting everyone around still feels overwhelming. ¬†We had a quiet and easy morning, then headed over to my parents house around lunch time to be with family. ¬†It was really sweet to be together! ¬†My youngest brother and his wife had their first baby 5 days before Wren was born, so it was a treat to have them drive here from Virginia to share baby Silas with us and be together for Easter.

One of my other brothers and his wife live close by, so to have as many of us together as we can is a blessing.  (My sister and other brother and their families live in British Columbia, Canada and we miss them especially in times like these!)

The cousins playing and making memories together is precious to all of us and brings a lot of joy. ¬†I’m thankful to my parents for hosting and pulling together such fantastic meals, such a treat for all of us. ¬†I contributed a vegan + gluten free raspberry cheesecake, which was simple and not terribly sweet, but I really loved it and would make it again.

I also finished my featherweight cardigan a little bit ago and finally blocked it and wove in the ends, so wearing it for the first time on Easter felt special. ¬†Its my first cardigan for myself! ¬†I cast it on before I was pregnant so of course it is sized for my “normal” body size, and will fit a bit better after losing baby weight, but it still fits just fine for now.

I hope it was a happy holiday weekend for all of you also!

 

yarn along

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Well, it definitely was too ambitious to think I could knit this little cardigan before Easter and also with only one skein of yarn. ¬†It has been really enjoyable to knit, and I’m waiting for another skein to arrive in the mail so i can finish it. ¬†Sweet Wren wore her camilla babe sweater for Easter instead, which was really beautiful on her. ¬†I can’t express how much fun it is and how satisfying to be able to make clothes for my children. ¬†I am really wanting to learn how to sew, so I can sew them some dresses, too.

I picked up book two in the Canada West series by Janette Oke, When Comes the Spring (affiliate link). ¬†It seems appropriate for this time of year, hey? ¬†I remember my older sister reading the series when we were growing up but I don’t think I ever read it. ¬†I read the first book sometime last year and have been watching the latest episodes of “When Calls the Heart,” which really seems to be nothing like the books. ¬†Both are enjoyable, but I’m hoping the books are better, seeing how the characters and plot is really entirely different thus far from the tv show. ¬†I’m finding little time to read, but am squeezing in a few pages when I nurse in the evenings. ¬†It’s good to have a happy simple novel to read.

Joining with Ginny’s monthly Yarn Along, and Nicole’s weekly Crafting On today.

yarn along

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I cast on for a Maile cardigan for Wren in quince + co tern, color way driftwood. ¬†Would love to have this done before Easter but I’m sure that’s too ambitious. ¬†May also be too ambitious to try to make this out of one skein of yarn.

Still re-reading Christie Purifoy’s memoir Roots + Sky¬†(affiliate link). ¬†If you don’t follow her on instagram, you should. ¬†She is a beautiful writer and her account is full of beauty. ¬†(And read her book!)

Also, I’m behind on a review of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck¬†(affiliate link) by Bethany Turner. ¬†I had a hard time finishing this one a bit. ¬†It wasn’t a bad book, per say, just a bit predictable and romancy and maybe a tad bit shallow? ¬†Not sure, I just didn’t love it. ¬†I did finish it, and it did get better toward the end.

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.

Thank you to Revell/Baker Publishing Group for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

the early days

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We’ve gotten into this rhythm lately, after Wren’s early morning feeding. ¬†Brandon rolls out of bed in the groggy dark and heads to the kitchen, and soon after I hear my coffee percolating on the stove. ¬†These first few weeks since Wren was born, most mornings he brings it to me in bed. ¬†I forgot what a luxury this is, to have coffee brought to me in bed. He doesn’t drink coffee (he usually makes chai tea for himself in the mornings) so it’s extra special when he makes my coffee. ¬†And this is how the early mornings have been spent. ¬†Savoring how amazing strong hot coffee tastes after a night of interrupted sleep with a newborn, savoring those few quiet moments before the sunlight wakes up the rest of the children. ¬†I told Brandon the other day that coffee just didn’t taste right the whole pregnancy, but amazingly, instantly after the baby is born it goes back to tasting amazing. ¬†So weird. ¬†I’m glad to have this old friend back again.

So yes, we’ve been in the glorious exhausting newborn fog–seriously, the best of days. ¬†I have been instagramming way too many baby photos and annoying everyone, I’m sure, but getting to know this new little soul and getting to hold and enjoy her really is what fills up my days lately. ¬†Oh, this fourth time around, my perspective is quite different. ¬†I’ve found myself enjoying this season far more than I complain about it, knowing truly how fleeting it is and precious. ¬†I keep feeling absolutely shocked that I have a seven year old (!!!) and how big Noah is, how I feel like the last couple of years with him transforming from a toddler to a big kid has just flown by without me really savoring it. ¬†Everyone says this thing goes by fast, and at the beginning I didn’t really feel like it was true. ¬†But suddenly I’m starting to get it. ¬†I can’t believe how quickly 7 years of parenting has gone by, what a blink it truly has been, and the fact that those years are behind us and never can we live a day of them again nearly breaks my heart. ¬†So, I can’t complain about these newborn days. ¬†My arms ache sometimes from holding her, and I’m afraid I’ll spoil her, but I’m holding her as much as I can, as if the holding can somehow slow down time, weigh it down and make it last.

The smell of milky breath.  The way newborn skin feels.  All the little peach fuzz on her shoulders and back that will disappear soon.  The tawny brown hairs I will soon find falling out on her blankets.  The milky midnight blue newborn eyes that will soon change.  The way she raises her eyebrows with wide open eyes as she focuses on me.  Her papery thin little fingers that reach around for mine to hold as she nurses.

Three weeks have gone by in a blur, and I know in a few weeks time I will hardly be able to remember these early days. ¬†Brandon’s parents came the first week and his mom stayed to help me when Brandon went back to work. ¬†They brought belated Christmas gifts for the kids and they were a huge help. ¬†My parents have also been helping when they can, mom bringing me meals and coming some mornings to help with whatever needs to be done. ¬†We’ve been trying to get back into a routine a bit this week, with me cooking a bit again, cleaning, and keeping on with school with phoebe. ¬†Everything takes longer and is more interrupted than it used to be, but I’m trying to be patient with myself and everyone else, too.

 

meeting wren

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She seems like a peaceful soul, our little Wren, and how is it that someone only days old can look so wise?

She was born March 3.  I slept fitfully the night of March 2nd, dreaming about contractions and labor until a strong contraction woke me straight up at 3:15 am.  I realized I had been contracting through the night mildly, as I had been on and off the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, but this contraction was a powerful jolt.  I lay in bed for a while, resting and waiting, then decided to get up and move around, to see if labor would pick up or die off with a change of activity.  I think I will probably want to remember that I cleaned bathrooms at that point, at around 4 am.  The house was mostly clean and ready so I had to find something to do.  I figured a last minute clean to get it ready for my parents would be a good idea anyway (they would be staying with our kids at our house while we were in the hospital).  I folded laundry, organized, whatever I could, while breathing through contractions.

By 5 am I woke Brandon and said it was time to get moving. ¬†I felt like it was still early to tell, but I didn’t want to wait too long. ¬†I had such a traumatic difficult labor with Noah that I’m always ancy now to get to the hospital quickly and have help on hand rather than wait too late. ¬†I let my parents know to head over as well, and we began to pack up the car. ¬†As we were getting ready to go, our “getaway” car (we were leaving the van for my parents to use with car seats in it for the other kids) wouldn’t start. ¬†I was pacing at the door in the dark, breathing and laughing a bit to myself–of course the car wouldn’t start now. ¬†We took my mom’s car when they arrived and all was well. ¬†We live about 10 minutes from the hospital so it was a quick drive over. ¬†I wasn’t as far along as I had hoped I would be when I arrived, but I progressed almost to full dilation within an hour. ¬†At this point I got the epidural, which was truly amazing. ¬†Actually I think it was a spinal block? but I can’t remember. ¬†All I know is that it is the craziest thing to have experienced natural child birth and then to experience the miracle of meds! ¬†Both have been wonderful experiences. ¬†However, after delivering Noah naturally (at 9 lb 8 oz) and having hours of hemorrhaging afterwards and all the work/meds they had to do to stop the hemorrhage without any pain meds as well as a separated pelvis, I have been too terrified to do it again. ¬†I felt guilty about getting the epidural with Philippa but this time, I felt more at peace about it. ¬†And this experience was, again, amazing. ¬†I was just about in transition when I got it, so to go from that chaos to total peaceful calm was truly incredible. ¬†The doctor kept saying things like “we’ll have a baby soon” and it all still felt totally surreal to me. ¬†In what felt like a few minutes later, after two pushes, baby Wren was born. ¬†There she was, another beautiful girl, so small and fresh and snuggly.

I am so thankful all went well with the birth and my recovery has been normal, which is a great relief and blessing as well! ¬†Wren has done really well, also, and we’ve been well taken care of by family, friends, and our community.

Our stay in the hospital was pretty quiet. ¬†No visitors except my parents. ¬†The biggest bummer was that the kids couldn’t come see us and meet the baby. ¬†The flu and pertussis have been so bad in our area that the hospital wasn’t allowing any visitors under age 18. My parents brought the kids by the road near our room’s window, and they jumped out and we waved and showed them the baby through the window. ¬†So we wanted to wait to announce the baby’s name until we were home, so that they could be the first to hear and so that we could tell them in person. ¬†It’s nice to wait a bit too and see the baby and see if the name fits.

It is the best to see the other children meet the baby for the first time and finally hold her, especially Philippa who was becoming a big “stister” for the first time. ¬†Noah didn’t want to hold Wren right away, but quietly the next day when no one was around he asked if he could. ¬†That first night home from the hospital is historically emotional and weird for me, and it was this time as well, and its just something I have to ride out. ¬†Brandon always amazes me in these times, how well he takes care of me and our family when I’m feeling weak, helpless, and overwhelmed. ¬†I’m convinced and reminded once again how much we need our community around us in times like these, and it’s always amazing to see how God orchestrates things to meet our needs.