hello, again

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hello, dear old friends. ūüôā

I’m so sorry for my unannounced absence in this space. ¬†I haven’t posted in a bit over a month, the longest this blog has ever been silent I do believe. ¬†As I shared on my instagram account, there have been some personal things going on that have been difficult and discouraging, and I haven’t felt much like myself.

I also wanted to step away from social media for a few weeks, at least the producing of content side of it, and see what it did for my soul. ¬†I guess I’ve needed to sift why I keep this blog, what my hopes and intentions are. ¬†As a busy mother, it is hard to justify what feels like the extravagant wastefulness of keeping a blog, knitting, reading, editing pictures, etc. etc. ¬†I often hear from other mother friends “I don’t know how you have time to x y z..” and maybe in part because of the other personal hardships we’ve been facing these last number of weeks, I wasn’t sure that I did in fact have time for it. ¬†My home is seemingly always in varying states of disarray, there’s always work I must neglect in order to pursue creative endeavors. ¬†I often feel guilty because of that. ¬†I wondered if I’ve said everything I’ve needed to say, if I’ve begun to just take the same photos again and again.

Anyway, I can’t go into it all now because I only have a few minutes to write here today. ¬†What I can say is that I thought it would be harder to go without sharing and posting much. ¬†It wasn’t actually very hard at all. ¬†In fact, it felt surprisingly good to be silent and private. ¬†What I didn’t anticipate was how much I would miss taking photos and keeping a record of our daily moments. ¬†I did keep up with taking pictures here and there, but I was mostly just still and quiet. ¬†It made me sad, and that surprised me. ¬†Keeping the blog somehow helps me stay present and awake to my own life. ¬†It helps me pay attention and keep a record. ¬†It brings focus and a bit of purpose. ¬†It forces me to process, in a way. ¬†I don’t know all of the reasons why I feel compelled to keep on, and I don’t know that I will forever, but for now, I’m back and it feels good.

I’ve missed you, too, reader, and hope you know that I do so enjoy connecting with you and hearing from you.

So while my soul was feeling the very heavy weight of grieving some losses, winter gave way to spring in our little part of the world. ¬†I noticed it more intently this year than I have ever before in my life. ¬†Every day I have walked around our home, looking for the bulbs we planted last fall to sprout and bloom. ¬†They have! ¬†I can’t quite express the ministry it is to the soul to watch green things come out of the ground, but I know many of you know just what I mean. ¬†I’ve also planted new things in the soil. ¬†During the last few weeks I’ve had some time convalescing and haven’t been able to do my usual physical labor, so Brandon faithfully prepped the garden soil, tilling in our compost from the last year, while I sat near him knitting in the sun. ¬†We’re making better walkways between rows this year in a hope to minimize weeding. ¬†We’ve planted strawberry plants and more asparagus, even as daily there are shoots of asparagus popping up from what we planted last year. ¬†We’ve planted lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, edible flowers, beets and sunflowers all from seed and are hopeful that we will see them sprouting soon. ¬†It has been so lovely spending time each day out in the sunshine, enjoying the cool mornings and warm afternoons before it is unbearably hot and buggy.

The kids and I are all feeling the itch to wrap up our school year. ¬†Our homeschool co-op finished up this week, and we have about 5 weeks of curriculum to finish up before we break for summer. ¬†We’ve done some fun simple field trips, like visiting the Biltmore House (local to us historic home) to see the horses and animals and gardens. ¬†We have a field trip to a museum later this week and hopefully a couple little getaways are in our near future as well.

I hope that spring has come your way, too, and that you are experiencing the ministry of new green things, sunshine, honeysuckle and lilac on the breeze, buzzing bees. ¬†Sending much love to you today. ‚̧

wren is one

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Our wren wren. ¬†How can it be? ¬†This year with you has been so sweet. ¬†Also, spicy. ¬†As you grow you are learning to exert yourself, learning what you like and what you don’t. ¬†One thing you became very attached to early on in your life was your bunny, a gift from a family friend. ¬†Nothing comforts you like bunny. ¬†So we thought your first birthday should be a bunny themed day. ¬†We can’t believe you are one and we’ve said so a million times. ¬†You are a joy to us all, everybody’s baby, and you make us all laugh with your silly faces, grumpy eyebrows, bunny love, toddling walk, and excitement for life. ¬†Happy first birthday, sweet little very.

‚̧

A little bit about her day:

Friends (and my mom) came over the day before her birthday (Saturday) for a cookout, bonfire and play time. ¬†We didn’t make it about her day persay, but we did have carrot cake in her honor and a couple of gifts. ¬†On her birthday, it was just us. ¬†After church I wanted to take photos of our girl in her special birthday dress + crown, just as she is now — walking, exploring, loving being outside, chasing our kitty Rose, and keeping up with her siblings. ¬†It was good that we did because shortly thereafter it began to rain and pour for the rest of the day. ¬†When she woke up from her nap and saw her presents by the fireplace, she picked them up and started right in on them, knowing just what to do. ¬†Each of the children helped her open a gift. ¬†She opened her birthday sweater that I knit for her and she immediately bit it, as she does whenever something is soft and snuggly. ¬†She held onto it and didn’t protest a bit when I put it on her. ¬†It’s so sweet because whenever she saw me working on it she would grab the yarn (and generally she is very into my yarn anyway). ¬†We got her a bunny book and her cousin-twin Silas sent her the sweetest book about a bird named wren which made me tear up to read. ¬†Its perfect. ¬†We also bought her a pair of boiled wool overalls which will be so nice for her to wear on all her adventures outside, with the reinforced knees and bottom. ¬†They are very big on her but they will fit her throughout next winter as well! ¬†My mom bought her her first baby doll (wren can’t say her “b’s” yet so she calls it her “day-dee” instead of baby). ¬†Her big gift from us was a little piano of her very own. ¬†She is obsessed with our piano but can’t reach it or play it unless someone helps her up and then sits and makes sure she doesn’t fall off the bench, so this little piano is just her size. ¬†She has loved it so much, which is always a delight.

For her cake, I made a vegan + gluten free carrot cake which was literally maybe the best carrot cake I’ve ever had, and I topped it with new little bunnies in honor of her bunny day. ūüôā ¬†She has never had anything like cake before and she’s our first child to absolutely dig in and love her first birthday cake. ¬†It was a very special first birthday, just perfect in so many ways. ¬†And I tried not to cry and be sad about her growing so big so fast, or the fact that it might be the last first birthday we celebrate, and instead just enjoy all that is now and all that will come.

 

 

yarn along

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I’m working on a quick little birthday crown for Wren, her flax light sweater is blocked and finished, and her little linen birthday dress came in time, also. ¬†It is very bittersweet to think we are already at her first birthday. ¬†More than any of the other children, her first year has flown by in all the hustle and busyness of life with four kids.

I’m savoring Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace. ¬†I’ll share some words with you:

“This magnetic pull toward beauty is an inclination most of us carry but too few of us acknowledge. ¬†Even if we are aware of it, we seldom honor it as something planted in us for a purpose. ¬†The rushing world has convinced us that beauty is something extra, not the thing itself. ¬†I would never have guessed…that the hand that compels us to stop and stare at something as insignificant as a beautiful tree in flower might be the hand of God. ¬†Rarely do we know what is at stake when beauty surprises us into stillness and we pause to listen, even for a moment, to creation’s song.”

I hope you find a few moments today to pay attention to that invitation to pause and enjoy the beautiful.

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
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reorienting

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When life crowds in and all the pain and hurt breaks our heart, sometimes we need to escape. ¬†I don’t know what it is about the wide open spaces, the heights, the familiar trails, the quiet of the wilderness and the piercing fresh air, but it truly does wonders. ¬†We are facing some hard things personally and I asked Brandon last weekend if we could spend the day Saturday out hiking somewhere. ¬†I didn’t have the energy to think about where to go, and somehow he knew just to quietly drive me to one of my favorite areas, Black Balsam and the Shining Rock Wilderness area. ¬†We speak few words to each other, I knit on the drive, snap photos while hiking. ¬†Mostly we just enjoy the respite from our every day landscape. ¬†I think about place, and why familiar places can minister so much to our souls, all the memories sewn into the landscape. ¬†I have been coming to these trails since my childhood, but mainly since my high school days when I first fell in love with backpacking. ¬†I have come to these trails many times to be with God, to be in the wide open silence, the whipping wind, the other-wordly play of light and cloud. ¬†Now we bring our children along as we go, feet tracing routes we know like the lines on our hands. ¬†We hike most of the day, five miles in all I think, in which their little feet kept up with our pace with barely a complaint. ¬†We get back to the car around 3 in the afternoon and eat lunch all piled in the hatch of the van, wet and muddy, tired but refreshed. ¬†Souls reinvigorated. ¬†I am so thankful for this little tribe of mine, the way we explore and sojourn together. ¬†These children are so precious to me and I’m so proud of them. ¬†I pray they learn to endure when the way is foggy and unclear, when the weather turns from sunshine to storm.

The mountains feel a bit like they’re moving under our feet and we find ourselves reaching out for that which is immovable and certain. ¬†I can never express how profoundly grateful I am for the scriptures, for the God of the scriptures who is THERE, who speaks, who is unchanging and wholly Other while being intimately close, and for His word which is sure and will endure forever.

I turn to these old words from a treasured commentary by Walter Brueggemann called The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith:

“Land is a central, if not the central theme of biblical faith…There are no meanings apart from roots. ¬†And such rootage is a primary concern of Israel and a central promise of God to his people. ¬†This sense of place is a primary concern of this God who refused a house and sojourned with his people (2 Sam. 7:5-6) and of the crucified one who had ‘nowhere to lay his head’ (Luke 9:58).

A sense of place is to be sharply distinguished from a sense of space as has been stressed by some scholars. ¬†‘Space’ means an arena of freedom, without coercion or accountability, free of pressures and void of authority. ¬†Space may be imaged as weekend, holiday, avocation, and is characterized by a kind of neutrality or emptiness waiting to be filled by our choosing. ¬†Such a concern appeals to a desire to get out from under meaningless routine and subjection. ¬†But ‘place’ is a very different matter. ¬†Place is space that has historical meanings, where some things have happened that are now remembered and that provide continuity and identity across generations. ¬†Place is space in which important words have been spoken that have established identity, defined vocation, and envisioned destiny. ¬†Place is space in which vows have been exchanged, promises have been made, and demands have been issued. ¬†Place is indeed a protest against the uncompromising pursuit of space. ¬†It is a declaration that our humanness cannot be found in escape, detachment, absence of commitment, and undefined freedom.

Whereas pursuit of space may be a flight from history, a yearning for a place is a decision to enter history with an identifiable people in an identifiable pilgrimage. ¬†Humanness, as biblical faith promises it, will be found in belonging to and referring to the locus in which the peculiar historicity of a community has been expressed and to which recourse is made for purposes of orientation, assurance, and empowerment. ¬†The land for which Israel yearns and which it remembers is never unclaimed space but is always a place with Yahweh,¬†a place well filled with memories of life with him and promise from him and vows to him.”

Yes, maybe that’s it. ¬†When all is spinning, we need to return to places that remind us of who we are, where we are going, what is sure and unchanging. ¬†Maybe returning to those places is what helps to reorient us to the God of the place, and the promise of His presence with us in all our sojourning.

sweaters and sunny days

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We recently had a string of sunny, incredibly warm and spring-like days. ¬†It was in the 60s and 70s and everyone in our home wanted their skin in the glorious rich sun. ¬†So we spent as much time as we could outside, playing, picnicking in the yard, trying to soak it up. ¬†I love winter so much and I don’t mind the cold and gray days, but it was a gift to have a short reprieve and remember what is soon coming. ¬†The air held that smell of warming soil and all of us began to think about planting and growing things again. ¬†Buds are forming on the trees and some of the bulbs we planted in the fall are beginning to send up shoots.

Phoebe set to work on planting a little “garden” in a corner of the mulch of their play gym. ¬†She transplanted various weeds and onion grass from the yard and I even overheard her singing to her little plants. ¬†I kept walking through our little garden plot, thinking and planning. ¬†I’m excited for those planting days that will soon be upon us, but I know how much work it adds to our plate as well. ¬†Also, I’m just not quite done with winter yet. ¬†I’m still hoping for a few more snows!

I finished up Phoebe’s flax sweater (with a good few modifications). ¬†Despite my best efforts to modify the neckline and ripping it out a couple of times, it still turned out quite large. ¬†She doesn’t mind it but I wish it wasn’t quite so boat necked. ¬†I shaped the arms a bit more drastically than the pattern called for and also cropped the sweater. ¬†She has been wearing it constantly in rotation with her other hand knits, and I so love that about Phoebe. ¬†She is always so grateful for anything I make for her. ¬†The yarn is some rustic farm yarn from our recent visit to a local sheep farm called Bovidae Farms. ¬†The yarn is dry and toothy and very lanolin-rich. ¬†I loved knitting with it, it’s incredibly warm and every time she wears it she smells like a little lamb. ¬†She’s also been wearing the sweater inside out and it looks just a good worn on the wrong side! ¬†I hadn’t blocked it before taking these pictures of her wearing it and it looks a bit better after blocking, of course.

It has been back to feeling like winter again, as it should for just a bit longer. ¬†We have days of rain ahead of us in the forecast so we are missing that warm sun but we know it’ll be back soon. ¬†In the meantime, we’re happy to have woolen sweaters to snuggle up in.

happy birthday to daddy

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His birthday always comes quietly amongst all the hubbub of the Super Bowl. ¬†Not that we are sports people (we’re not) and we don’t watch a single other game all year long (unless olympics are on or occasionally the world cup), but he likes to watch the Super Bowl. ¬†We went to church as usual on Sunday, and I encouraged him to go do something fun that afternoon — go fly fishing, mountain biking, running, or whatever would be refreshing to him. ¬†He decided to take the older two kids mountain biking, while I stayed home so the younger two girls could nap. ¬†It ended up being perfect as he ran into a few friends on the trail, including phoebe’s best friend, which made her day. ¬†She also got to pet a horse that was at the trail head too. ¬†They came home just before dinner and I forgot to snap a photo of them.

I made his favorite dessert, cherry pie (using this crust recipe and the filling recipe from this one) with homemade ice cream, and his favorite food ever, pizza + caesar salad for dinner. ¬†I always use this recipe for our favorite pizza crust and topped this one with spinach, pepperoni, and local grass-fed chorizo and it was amazing. ¬†We watched the game while eating dinner and intermittently taking care of kids, singing happy birthday + blowing out candles before wren went to bed, and opening his gifts. ¬†I got him this book on fly fishing, always trying to stoke the flames of his passions for the sports he loves and has so little time for. ¬†The children wrapped up paintings they had made for him, and their handmade cards were the highlight of the evening. ¬†I also gave him money toward a tool he’s had his eye on.

I think it was simple and fun day, and we really enjoyed being home together. ¬†It’s hitting me that he’s getting closer to turning 40 and that just seems so odd. ¬†I still feel like we are in our 20s. ¬†Maybe that never really changes. ¬†We are really thankful for this guy who works very hard to take care of us and pour his love out on us. ¬†He loves fiercely, steadily, and often quietly, and we love spoiling him when we can!

horses for her eighth

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Just after winter solstice eight years ago, a bright and shining light was born into this world. ¬†You, our sweet Phoebe girl. ¬†Our horse crazy girl. ¬†Vivacious, energetic to no end, singing and talking and dancing all the day long. ¬†We knew we would love our little baby girl but we had no idea how everything would change the moment we laid eyes on you. ¬†You came so quickly I was still in shock when I was staring into your dark eyes and wrinkly forehead. ¬†Were you really here? ¬†Were you really real? ¬†You stole our hearts then and you still have them now. ¬†It’s not easy being first, being the oldest, but I can’t think of someone more well-suited for the task. ¬†You are a leader if ever there was one, never shy or unfriendly. ¬†You are brave and bold, my girl, facing your own set of challenges with a cheerful spirit.

Eight years old feels grown up in ways that make my momma heart ache a bit raw. ¬†Normally on your birthdays you are up before the sun and can’t wait to open all of your presents at once. ¬†You have grown up this year, I suppose, and instead you spread the opening all throughout the day even until just before bed. ¬†You received a horse for your Kaya doll that we found at our favorite consignment store as well as a barn and corral for your other horses. ¬†You and I have so enjoyed the Misty of Chincoteague book series so we gifted you this Album of Horses book by the same author. ¬†Your birthday sweater was still damp on the blocking boards but you couldn’t wait to wear it and your sparkly purple skirt as well. ¬†You have worn your sweater literally every day since your birthday and truly you are the most knit worthy person I know! ¬†It’s a joy making things for you.

Your daddy and I are so very proud of you Phoebe, thankful to know you and humbled to raise you. ¬†We hope you grow this year in your love for God and for His Word, that you continue to seek Him and rest in His favor over you, His love that can’t be measured or lost. ¬†We hope its a year full of growth, adventure, learning, and laughing. ¬†Happy 8th birthday!

Love,
mom

Ps. Phoebe’s cake is the Chocolate Layer Cake made from the Paleo Kids Cookbook¬†(highly recommend if you’re looking for ways to recreate children’s favorite foods and snacks) and I found organic and naturally dyed sprinkles from our local food co-op (very pricey though!). ¬†My children haven’t really ever had sprinkles on anything so they were so enamored and excited, which made the cost worthwhile. ¬†The cake seemed like it was going to be a big flop and it wasn’t pretty but it was delicious!

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