arbor vitae

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Another year, another trip to our favorite tree farm where we’ve cut a tree for the past several years.  As usual, it takes us hours as we romp around, snap pictures, play hide and seek, munch on snacks, and just generally pretend that this peaceful plot of land is ours.  It does something in my soul to see children running around in all this open quiet space, laughing, gathering found bits of nature to treasure. The weather was gloomy but beautiful for pictures.  It isn’t Christmas until we have our tree, and how nice it is to enjoy its light all Advent long.

sick for her 5th

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My giggly, happy, bright little Philippa turned 5 last Friday.  We were supposed to have grandparents, aunts and uncles over, and Philippa’s cousin BFF was going to stay for a sleepover.  But as we approached her birthday, Wren and Philippa became so sick.  Phoebe, Noah, and myself had already had some sort of sickness for about a week and I thought we were in the clear, but everyone seemed to decline so we had to cancel the birthday festivities.  Philippa was disappointed at first but she was just happy there would still be cake and presents.  We promised her we would make up the sleepover soon.

I love the children at this stage of life, how they wake up and can’t wait to dig into their presents.  Phoebe’s getting older and she’s starting to want to save presents for later in the day to make it last longer, but Philippa is young enough to feel like she’s waited long enough for presents to open.  She’s sort of a hard one to buy for because she rarely asks for anything and happily plays along with whatever everyone else has.  In the  weeks leading up to her birthday she randomly asked Brandon to make her a sword, as well as asking for a slinky.  Brandon made her a beautiful sword and she just loved it.  He made the grip to look like dragon scales and inscribed her initials near the bottom of it.  She was truly delighted.  I knit her a sweater, which she still hasn’t worn exactly, but she’s not a huge fan of sweaters.  She was still excited to see it, and I think she’ll wear it eventually. 🙂  This was the first year Phoebe and Noah wanted to give their own gifts to Philippa which was so sweet.  Noah wrote her a book and illustrated it all, what a treasure.  It’s quite originally called, The Gingerbread Man.  Phoebe bought her a new journal from the dollar spot at Target.  Paper of any sort is always on high demand at our house.  We bought her a “toothless dragon” as that has long been on her wish list.  We took a gamble and bought her a pair of rollerblades and she isn’t super into them yet, but I think with more practice she will love them.  Last year we purchased a scooter for her for Christmas and it took her a long time to really enjoy it but now she has completely worn the tires off of it.

My mom came by on her birthday morning to drop off her gifts since they wouldn’t be coming for a party, which was a fun treat for Philippa.

As the day went on, Philippa seemed to feel worse.  When Wren got up from afternoon nap she was hot and listless, and I strapped her into the ergo so I could try to frost Philippa’s cake.  But as I held her I realized her breathing was shallow and she was wheezing, so I loaded everyone up and we hurried to the doctor for help.  I felt so bad for Philippa, but she was easy going about it.  Brandon hurried home from work to pick up the other kids from the doctor, while I waited with Wren for her to respond to breathing treatments and fever reduces or the doctor said we would be admitting her.  She finally recovered enough for the doctor to feel safe sending us home.  By the time I got back a couple of hours later, Philippa also had a raging fever.  We sang her happy birthday at 9 pm and she had a little bit of cake but certainly not with much gusto.  Within a few hours she was also wheezing and needing a breathing treatment.

All in all, it was still a fun day but its hard not to be disappointed with all of the sickness and the distraction from celebrating like we usually do.  However, it’s just life with kids.  She didn’t mind as much as I did, and in the end, we’ll always remember being all so very sick for her 5th.

 

tucking in

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The first heavy frost came last week, this week the first snow flurries and frigid temps.  We’ve finished up the last few projects outdoors.  Brandon and I (mainly Brandon) worked on laying this stone walkway from our driveway to the back porch over the course of three weeks.  Sometimes it’s silly how long it takes us to get things done, but its not for lack of trying.  It’s just life in this season with a lot to juggle and a lot of interruptions.  We really love the finished product!  It’s always exciting to make improvements (though ever so slowly for us) to our little home.

I trimmed back bushes last week and raked up as many leaves as I could one morning then spread it over the garden.  The children have been enjoying any sunny warm weather they can, though those days may be behind us now.  How quickly these warm fall days give way to frost and bleak, barren limb.

Also, Phoebe has been singing weekly with a choir called Viva Voce and lately they’ve had a couple of performances.  These photos were from her first performance in a church nearby.  I can’t tell you how proud I am to hear her sing, and she loves it so.  Our mornings are full with school work, our afternoons are mostly full now with activities and I am running around ferrying children to and fro.  It is good, busy, and I’m a bit looking forward to a long break from school work in December.

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halloween fun

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The sweetest halloween.  We aren’t huge halloween people, but children do love to dress up and to go door-to-door asking for candy, so we allow it.  I never want to spend much  (or anything) on costumes but I did buy noah’s costume (second hand), which he really loved, though I had tried hard to convince him to be a lumber jack so we could have a woodland theme (with Phoebe being a wood fairy).  I knitted a little mushroom cap and neck piece for Wren and a fox bonnet for Philippa from scrap yarn.  Phoebe put her own costume together and when she was looking at pictures with me she said, “Oh I really did look beautiful.”  I thought that was so precious, and I hope she always thinks that when she sees pictures of herself.

Wren was an absolute hoot to trick-or-treat with.  Every other time I’ve put the hat on her she has pulled it off but she this time she must have gathered that it was dress-up and she totally loved it.  She wanted to run up to the houses just like the big kids and she would eagerly yell out some form of “trick-or-treat,” and happily wave “bye” and say “dee-doo” (thank you) for candy.  She loved having her own “basket” to carry and didn’t want any help.  Though heavy rains and thunderstorms were forecasted we had clear weather and it got pretty cold by the end of the evening.  We don’t keep any of the candy we gather, Brandon ends up taking it to work, and I trade it out for the kids with candy and chocolate from the health food store that is certified GF and such.  They don’t mind a bit and are good sports about it.

Now, we are into November, and what a beautiful start to the month it has been.  I hope you all had a safe, fun and happy Halloween.

the first autumnal day

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On the first truly autumnal day of the year (last Saturday) when the rain fell off and on all day and the temps dropped low, we went out for a little drive in our town to find a pumpkin patch.  Our area is apple country and there are lots of orchards here, but almost none are organic (there’s only one that I know of and they aren’t u-pick) and they tend to be crazy busy this time of year.  We passed quite a few with lines of people curving around buildings waiting for cider doughnuts.  Hoping to find a quieter, lesser-known spot with a true pumpkin patch, we stumbled upon the perfect spot.  There were only a handful of other people there, the kids could wander through the pumpkin patch freely and the view was beautiful.  Phoebe couldn’t believe Noah was about the same height as her.  Noah found the “biggest pumpkin in the patch” so we will have a nice carving pumpkin for halloween.  Wren tried to figure out what all the excitement was about and Philippa trotted happily along with everyone else.  This spot was technically a nursery, so after picking out some pumpkins we wandered through the greenhouses. The children also had to pick out small pumpkins to paint, as they’ve done for the last number of years.  It was a sweet and simple way to spend a Saturday morning together.  We do so love this time of year!  (And if you’re local and need a good quiet spot to wander through growing things, we recommend visiting Linda’s Plants and Shrubs.)

in the company of trees

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“Popular attention has been caught by a concept from Japan and China called Shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest bathing’.  It is a common practice that began in the early 1980s, involving spending time in a wood or forest to ‘bathe’ in the atmosphere for the benefit of mind and body….In recent years follow-up research aimed at understanding the Shinrin-yoku phenomenon has shown that walking in a green space has a direct positive effect on several systems in our bodies.  Blood pressures decrease, levels of the stress hormone cortisol drop, anxiety is alleviated and pulse rates diminish in subjects who have spent time in nature and particularly among trees.”

A Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

– Joyce Kilmer

Since college I’ve wanted to visit Joyce Kilmer memorial forest and when we realized Lake Santeetlah was right next to it we knew we had to go for a hike there.  We weren’t disappointed.  It truly is difficult to capture the largeness of these mighty giants and it was amazing to walk amongst them and be dwarfed beneath their canopy.  I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to go visit again when the leaves are changing.  Truly, there is something restorative about walking in a forest, bending low to notice the smallest of creatures, the tiny microcosms juxtaposed by the mighty trees beside them.

away together at the lake

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Last weekend, the very last days of summer, we drove a couple hours away from home to Lake Santeetlah.  A very kind client of my Brandon’s had gifted us a weekend at this lake house and we truly had the best time.  My favorite childhood memories are from summers spent on the Muskoka lakes in Ontario, Canada with family.  There will always be a fondness in my heart for lakes!  We realized we hadn’t been away together alone as a family (without other family or friends) for years.  It was so good, just so good. We hadn’t told the kids ahead of time what was happening so they were totally surprised.  They enjoyed an upstairs bedroom with bunkbeds (!!!) and they loved having their “own” little porch balcony overlooking the lake.  Our stay was just so short, but so very good.  Lots of swimming, exploring, fishing, paddling, and enjoying was had by all in a beautiful area that was new to us and not so far from home.  I hope one day we can return, the children are already planning our next trip!