catching up on Christmas

Hello!  

I didn’t mean to be away from this space for so long.  I have continually struggled to find time and energy to post lately.  I hope you can bear with me as I try to catch up on sharing a little of our Christmas day with you.  The best surprise of Christmas was waking up to snow!  If memory serves me well, the last white Christmas we had was when we brought Phoebe home from the hospital 10 years ago.  Our Christmas morning was sweet and always a little chaotic too, as children try to contain their excitement.  As I looked back over these photos, it made me smile seeing how they enjoyed one another.  We bought a book for each child and one toy item, as well as stocking stuffers.  We focused a bit more on family gifts this year, gifting them all a slackline kit, a special bird feeder that hopefully brings the birds a bit closer to our view, a rubbery road set to add to our trains/blocks collection, and a couple of puzzles. Everything was well loved.  I gave Brandon a drone, and he gifted me a sweater’s quantity of the loveliest rusty red yarn to knit a sweater I’ve had my eye on.  It was a treat to have some time to knit Christmas afternoon after all the children trotted off to add their toys to their rooms or take them outside to play.  

The Christmas season seemed to fly by even more so this year, a year where it seemed everyone wanted to hold onto it as long as possible.  We still have a few fairy lights and bottle brush trees around our house to brighten the bleakness of winter.  We have much to be grateful for even despite the tumultuous year behind us.

yarn along

Christmas season came and went in such a hurry it seems. I still have photos to share about our holiday season, but am finding it hard to make time to get on here and do so. I received a sweater’s quantity of peace fleece DK in the color way “sheplova mushroom” to knit a morchella cardigan. I watched for it on Christmas day and cast on sometime around then. I want this cardigan in my wardrobe so badly, and thought it would be more of a product knit versus a process knit, anticipating it would knit slowly and be a bit tedious. However I have been so, so enjoying the process of knitting this sweater. I can’t quite explain it. It’s just the only thing I want to work on and there’s something deeply comforting in returning to it at the beginnings of endings of my days. It’s familiar, easy, and such a long bit of knitting, yet the excitement to have the finished piece moves me continually forward. These are strange times we find ourselves in, and I must say I have been battling a lot of discouragement. Life for me lately is pared back down to the basics and my words feel few and also terribly small and unimportant, especially in the wider world of the internet. Maybe it’s a bit of an existential crisis. From what I gather, I think many of us are struggling a bit right now. I am finding grounding in the scriptures, in quiet spaces, in observing nature around me and spending time in it, in my knitting, in the company of trusted friends and loved ones.

I’m slowly making my way through Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark. I am mostly enjoying it, and am curious to see where the story goes, but I feel like I’m reading it very slowly. Have you read it? If so, what did you think? Some fiction has definitely been a welcome reprieve in the evening before bed.

How are you? Are you reading good books, making things with your hands?

Sending love to you today, friends, and trusting that the Light can overcome the darkness any one of us may be facing.

xo
Martha

finally, ten

Finally, ten years old. For a girl who can’t wait to grow up, this birthday has long been anticipated. Though I share in her joy and celebration for sure, this momma also feels the surprise and hint of sorrow that comes with realizing how quickly ten years have gone by and how quickly this firstborn of mine is changing and becoming a little lady. This girl has inspired and shaped so much of my journey as a mother, as firstborns often do. God couldn’t have given a better gift to us those ten years ago on the day before Christmas Eve in that early morning snowfall. God couldn’t have set apart a better kiddo for paving the way. She is strong, incredibly joyful, vivacious, enthusiastic, positive, resilient, determined, compassionate. She loves everyone easily and generously. She forgives quickly. She has a huge passion for learning and exploring, and her own sweet faith in God is growing and continually encourages and challenges me.

I would venture to guess there are few who enjoy a party and presents as much as Phoebe does, so her special day was much anticipated. She was excited and happy over every gift as you can see in the pictures. She received from us some horse backing riding pants and boots, her birthday sweater which I knit, a new dress for her Kaya doll, a book, a new breyer horseback rider for her collection, as well as a couple gifts from family. I especially enjoyed seeing the other children wrap up favorite stuffed animals and toys in their blankets and present them to Phoebe as gifts. We also surprised her with a riding lesson at the same stable where she participated in horse camp this past summer. Everyone enjoyed the outing to the stable and visiting with the horses, and I was reminded that one’s area of interest enriches all of our lives. Later that night we had cake and sang happy birthday and marveled over this little ray of light. What an endless source of delight to us she is.

noah is 8

This year the kids requested having their birthday gifts hidden around the house for them to find. It was really fun for all! Noah received some new carhartt bib coveralls, his knitted birthday sweater from me, the book My Side of the Mountain, and a couple awesome gifts from grandparents. We also gave him a Bruder John Deere tractor he’s had his eye on for some time. Probably the most special gifts were the handmade rifle and pistol Brandon made for him, though. He inscribed each gun with a scripture. Noah’s favorite song is Psalm 46 by Shane and Shane and without remembering that, Brandon happened to pick a portion of Psalm 46 to inscribe on the rifle. It was a sweet moment. He will treasure those guns for sure!

Noah requested that we go for a hike to see some waterfalls, and it was so good for us all to be out in nature for a bit. The waterfall pictured is High Falls at Dupont State Park. Only moments into our hike Noah fell hard and hurt his knee, and we almost turned back but he decided to try and keep going. It was peaceful, quiet, chilly and lovely in the woods. We left there and drove over to a favorite pottery place that does an open house in December where you can pick out a free cup and enjoy cider. Then back home to make the birthday boy’s dinner request: pizza. His cake this year wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped it be, but I did manage to make some semblance of a fish on it with candy and sprinkles I happened to have on hand. I think he loved it. 🙂

Noah, as daddy often says to you, you’re a good man. And you are! Kind and strong, tenderhearted and sweet. You care so sweetly for your sisters. Sometimes its hard to be the only boy but you carry it well. You’ve grown up a lot this year and we’re so proud of you, your hard work, diligence in school, love for reading, your excitement about nature and love for exploring. Thank you for all your eagerness to work and help, thank you for your laughter and energy, and the way you invite us to play. It is easy to celebrate you! Happy birthday, son. You are so loved. May you continue to grow in your love for God as you journey through this next year!

December festivities

Forgive me while I catch up here on all the December happenings! It feels like I haven’t had a free day at home to do so all month. Today is the day before Phoebe’s birthday and I have wrapped all gifts and plan to make her birthday dessert today so that tomorrow can be a little less stressful.

The first two weeks of December were busy with wrapping up our last bits of school before taking a nice long break. Phoebe’s choir had a Christmas concert (done safely with social distancing and masks where needed) and it was something special to hear their beautiful voices and various girls’ instruments after such a year of isolation. A few days later Noah and Phoebe had a piano recital, their first one in person after a zoom spring recital. What a good experience for them to play their pieces in front of a (small) audience! My camera was acting up and I didn’t get many photos of Noah playing sadly.

The first weekend of December I threw a very small joint birthday party for Noah and Phoebe. Not one to usually do parties, I’m so glad we did. It was very sweet for them to have three of their close friends over (that we already regularly see). Phoebe wanted to have an American doll tea party, and I wonder if this might be the last year she is into dolls? She did all of the setup, made little place cards and assigned seats, while I prepared a few little snacks for the girls to enjoy. I think it was really fun! Meanwhile, Brandon met Noah’s friends at a nearby mini golf course and they played a round of mini golf together and had cupcakes there. I was bummed to not be able to be there, but the point was to give the kids some time with their friends and there was no other way to make two parties happen this month! I’m pretty pleased with how it all went.

Meanwhile, Brandon and I have started just a small update on our tiny master bathroom. We haven’t done anything to it since buying the home three years ago and it is quite an eyesore. I will share better “before and after” pictures once we finish this first phase of updating (these are all “before”). We hope to eventually remodel the bathroom entirely, but in the meantime I had a can of paint leftover from painting our front door and I felt that it would make a big difference just to repaint the wall above the tile in bathroom, change the mirror and light fixture and vanity. It’s going slowly because theres just not much time this month for working on it, so for now our bedroom is in a bit of a state of disarray. I don’t mind so much because it is so exciting to see improvements!

It has been good to have quieter, simpler days at home, free time to do crafts or adventures and stay in our pajamas all day. I’m still hoping to make some Christmas cookies together and get to organizing some closets and our school room before our break is over. Tomorrow is Phoebe’s birthday and I still need to share photos from Noah’s birthday. Busy, busy. If I don’t post before then, I pray your Christmas season is merry and bright, rich in love, peaceful, pierced with a particular joy that comes from slowing down, savoring God’s good gifts. I pray you can gather with a loved one or two and that whomever you spend Christmas with, you enjoy the gift of each other’s presence.

yarn along

Both Phoebe’s and Noah’s birthday sweaters were miraculously finished in time, even with what has felt like very minimal knitting time. Noah loved his sweater which is always a joy! Phoebe’s sweater finished blocking yesterday and I wrapped it up last night for her birthday tomorrow. There’s always a great sense of relief when the gift knitting is done. I had hoped to have Phoebe’s socks and horse mittens done, as well as a hat for each of the kiddos for Christmas but none of that will be happening. I’ll continue to work on those projects and gift them as they’re finished. I did cast on one ribbed hat a few days ago for some easy mindless knitting. My plan is to knit a few of these 2×2 ribbed hats for our basket of hats and mittens by the door for anyone to grab because they all love wearing my ribbed hat so much.

Last night I picked my stoker shawl back up and it was nice to re-familiarize myself with it. These last days of the year always feel very overwhelming for me trying to get all the things done, birthdays planned and executed, etc. It was good to just have a project to pick up that was well under way and not to need the mental energy to cast on a new object.

I’m nearing the end of Cry of the Soul and this morning began reading Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland. I listened to the free 14-day devotional from this book on Spotify and knew then that I needed to read the book in its entirety.

Thanks for reading along as I share my current makes + reads, and feel free to share with me what you are working on creating and reading.
xo

the last of November

November finished with a sweet and simple Thanksgiving spent with Brandon’s parents at our home. I made all the fixings but I haven’t cooked a turkey in some years and the recipe in Danielle Walker’s Celebrations cookbook for a brined turkey did not disappoint. It was delicious if I do say so myself. 🙂 We sang “Now Thank We All Our God” as we sat down to eat, the hymn the children and I had been singing daily in the month of November. What a beautiful act of worship, to give thanks in the very midst of so much hard.

That weekend we made our annual trip to our favorite dreamy Christmas farm, just a simple quiet tract of land out in the boonies. We open our van doors and the kids tumble out and start running free in the wide fields, and all feels right with the world. The very fat, funny looking tree pictured was the one we thought we would get but ended up finding a different variety that we liked better for its huge and healthy bristles. Our children couldn’t wait to decorate it, though we didn’t get to it for a few days more. It is always the sweetest thing to unpack all the ornaments from our 14 years together. Always, so many memories and stories. This year it was Wren’s turn to hang the star. I am so grateful for this season of light to end a very dark year, reminded that in all things, in all things, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. I’m looking for all the ways, and I hope you are too.

yarn along

A week into December and it still feels all a bit surreal. But we have decorated and we have spent time daily in Advent readings all the while with Christmas music playing, our rhythms and actions helping our minds and hearts catch up to the season we are in. We are enjoying our fifth? year of reading Unwrapping the Greatest Gift together, coloring the little accompanying free ornaments each evening and hanging them on our Jesse Tree. This is such a sweet tradition that the kids really love forward to, as we trace Jesus’ family line and marvel afresh at the story God has written. May He prepare our hearts for a fresh coming this Christmas season! I’ve added a few Christmas books to our collection, which I pack away with Christmas decorations and pull out only during the month of December. One of those books is Ollie’s Ski Trip and another which we are reading during our morning time is All Creation Waits. A favorite from among the ones we already own is Christmas Farm. I’m still reading Cry of the Soul slowly.

As for knitting, I’m nearing the last few inches of the second sleeve on my Sweater Hug. I’m still working on Phoebe’s sweater sleeves too. Sleeves, sleeves, sleeves. 🙂

May your Christmas + Advent season be merry and bright.

xo
Martha

Amazon links are affiliate links.

yarn along

December is upon us, hard as it is to believe. I’ve still got two birthday sweaters to finish this month so I’m trying to devote all of my knitting time to those projects. I finished the body of Phoebe’s leksak tunic and have started on the sleeve. I plan to modify the sleeves a little and add in decreases for a slimmer fit. The yarn for Noah’s sweater hasn’t arrived yet but I hope to get it on the needles soon! I have other little small items I wanted to knit the children before Christmas but I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew.

Still reading Cry of the Soul and very helped by it so far. I definitely recommend.

Wishing you a happy start to your December and Advent season!

xo
Martha

Joining with Ginny’s monthly Yarn Along.
All Amazon links are affiliate links.

her birthday weekend {6 years old}

Let the festivities begin! December comes and I tend to feel like my blogging is just recording one big family celebration after another, be it birthdays, Thanksgiving, more birthdays, recitals, performances, more birthdays, and then finally Christmas just before all the New Year reflections and preparations. I never would have guessed how busy this time of year would become for our family but as God would have it, our holiday season is full of birthdays! So much celebrating and big feelings and thoughts to document, and I appreciate so much that some of you feel it and care to journey along with me.

With the arrival of Philippa’s birthday the busy season begins. I’m not much for busy and try to minimize it as much as possible, yet with young children it can’t be avoided entirely. I was grateful that there were a few days between Philippa’s birthday and Thanksgiving this year so I uncharacteristically felt up to attempting a very small birthday party. Usually I just don’t have the bandwidth to add that in but I’m glad to have made space and energy for it. Philippa invited two dear friends and her cousin bff and we had a small little gathering with family and friends. My plans to keep things relatively calm went well largely due to the fun sewing craft we did. I found this sweet woodlands animal sewing craft for the girls to do. Everything came ready to go with instructions for each creature. I had hoped to do this set with the ulterior motive of ending up with some pretty felt ornaments for our Christmas tree, but Brandon talked me out of it since they were geared toward ages 12 and up. I think the one we picked was really good for 5-6 year olds, and my older two enjoyed participating, too!

The next morning was her actual birthday and she requested her gifts be hidden around the house for her to find, which was great fun in the morning. We gifted her a few things she requested: a polaroid-type camera, a new dragon, a book of dragon stickers, her birthday sweater. As for her birthday sweater, she has worn it almost daily since her birthday. Success! It fits her well and she really seems to love it. I’m glad to finally have made her something that fits her taste. 🙂

She requested chicken soup and bread for her birthday dinner, a meal that everyone likes in our family. I made her the cake she requested also, with sprinkles on it. Philippa is a happy, easy-go-lucky, giggly, silly, and friend-to-all kind of girl who loves animals, dragons, forts and imaginative games. She loves playing with others and is easy to get along with, happy with whatever she’s doing for the most part. We’re so proud of her, her generosity with and love for others, her growing love for God, her tender heart.

We love you, Philippa Ruth. Happy 6th birthday. ❤