Give a girl a bouquet of flowers and she’ll know just what to do. This little sweater for Wren was a knit I have planned for her last winter but time got away from me. It is the old growth sweater, slightly modified to omit the leaf/tree lace motif. I knit it in Ozetta’s beautiful soft and sheepy 100% Columbian wool. It will be very warm I think, though she will need a little something for her neck since the neckline of the garment is a bit open. I sewed buttons on this morning, albeit a bit crookedly. She couldn’t wait to wear it. The mornings have grown chilly and cool here, but it is still not quite sweater weather. We pulled a few zinnias from the garden, drying as they wane at summer’s end, still so beautiful. She walked barefoot out to the big maple where the sunlight fell softly through the shade and she let me snap these pictures. I will treasure them forever not because of the sweater but because I sure do adore this beautiful, feisty, sweet little girl.
All the little moments, their childish messes and the general disarray of our home with busy little people constantly at play. These are things I don’t want to forget. Seasons will come and go and the phases they are currently in fade quietly into the next. I was putting wren to bed today and remembered how when she was first learning to talk she would wake up in the mornings and say first thing, “Goo’ morning mom!” in the voice she uses when she’s trying to sound big. I loved it so much that when I put her to bed at night I would always say, “And don’t forget to say ‘good morning mom’ when you wake up.” Before I could even finish saying it she would say “I not forget!” so fast and then I would tickle her. Then she began to tease me and say “I forget,” knowing she would be tickled. I still remind her when I put her to bed and she still says it every morning when she wakes up but now her little voice is different and she doesn’t say “I not forget” anymore and I so wish I had recorded it sometime on camera so that I can not forget. Now she will just say as fast as she can “Forget” and “sbasket” (which is how she says “basket”) just to get tickled as I’m putting her to bed. I love the little years. Hard as they have been at times they have brought so much joy and I don’t want them to end!
Phoebe did drama camp this summer. We were grateful it was offered! She had a great week and played the part of an evil knight in the play. She did a great job! I always admire the ease with which she is on stage performing in front of others. Noah and Philippa did a week of basketball camp (Crossfire Ministries). They were a little overwhelmed at the beginning and balked at going after the first day, but they learned a ton and had a really special week together. It sparked in both of a them a new love for the sport and they have been practicing their drills at home.
In other summer news, my sister and her children visited for about 2 1/2 weeks from British Columbia, Canada. It was a really fun time together reconnecting after three years of not seeing one another and a lot of changes and challenges in our families during that time. It was really precious to be with my niece and nephews, have a lot of pool time and play at my parents house together. We had a picnic one weekend and met my brother and his family there to meet their brand new adopted daughter, Eliana Joy. She was born two months premature and is so tiny in these photos. We loved getting to see her and hold her finally! And we look forward to doing so again soon. (I can’t share photos of her face yet until all things are final.) More summer fun to share in the next couple of posts, I’m trying to catch up after so much busyness and very little time to blog about it all.
I hope you are well and enjoying the final bits of summer!
Early July and humid summer nights when darkness comes slowly,
bringing the flicker of the firefly.
All across our yard we see them dance,
little girls in white gowns dancing after them.
Four little children each with their own jar,
squealing delight as they capture this gentle fire in their own glass lanterns.
The first fire of the summer in our new fire ring,
the first evening chasing fireflies.
All this light brightening up the dark, cheering hearts
and bringing quiet peace and joy.
And these precious, simple summer evenings
at home together while they are ten, eight, six, and three,
moments that blaze bright and then flicker away.
Summer is for breathing, for catchup up, for catching all the spinning plates that seem to have fallen in the busy crush of the year.
Summer is for stepping back, of evaluating, re-examining, re-connecting. Summer is for celebrating, for sucking the marrow out of the bones.
Summer is for abundant strawberries made into an old favorite dessert, Strawberry Oat bars. Summer is the time for my birthday and we celebrated by spending a day in the woods and river in nearby Montreat, NC, staying for a picnic afterwards. Brandon built me a beautiful cedar box for my birthday to store my hand knit socks. I love it! Summer is for washing and tucking away everyone’s hand knits and cleaning closets + pantries.
Summer is for taking stock of the past school year, ruminating on what worked and didn’t work well, adjusting and beginning to dream about the new school year ahead. It is important for me to step back and refresh my soul in the space.
Meanwhile, as the pressure of school and extracurricular activities lifts, tasks, projects, and plans surface that have been lying dormant. There is mental room and energy to tackle that closet that has been bursting at the seams with scattered shoes and coats.
I knit slippers for my dad that needed to be fixed (the original pattern turned out way too large and floppy) years ago. Here I am finally picking them up and mending them in hopes of having them ready for Father’s Day (success!).
I scribble down jobs around the house on paper for chore charts I printed off and laminated last fall. Now maybe I can implement this simple chore system and have the kids practicing a new routine well before school picks up in the fall and our busy days begin again. Hopefully by then what is now new will be routine.
Sometimes, oftentimes, perfection is the enemy of good, or good enough at least. I want it all to be running smoothly and organized. But projects nearly always take longer than I anticipate, and if I can just slow down and let be what is, not giving up entirely because it isn’t all achievable, and instead welcome slow and steady progress, then slow and steady progress can be made.
I paint the corner of wall in our kitchen that has been a light icky shade of green since we moved in. It takes a full day in between other demands to get this section painted, the trim and the door still need to be painted. Another day I work on painting the new peg rail and pegs, and finally it’s ready for Brandon to hang. Every little step takes time, and every little step brings more pleasure than I expected.
Brandon works on clearing a space for a fire pit so we can dismantle the junky cinderblock fire pit that has been in the middle of our yard since we moved in. We still need to work on the fire pit in the center but it is already such a huge improvement!
Slowly this little old house is coming to be what we imagined and what feels like more of an expression of who we are.
And in the process of all the life happening in the midst–all the “interruptions” to our plans–we are learning to slow down. To see this moment. It’ll never come again. Tomorrow I will be older than I am today. So will my children. A year passes in days. Today is the end of June, the sweet and gentle beginning of summer.
It seems necessary when visiting the beach to have at least one cloudy chilly beach day, and we had a lovely one on our last full day. We drove to nearby Sunset Beach on the tip of North Carolina and we loved watching the deer wandering on the dunes, and the wild stretch of the nature preserve on Bird Island. Though the kiddos began with complaints and assured us they wouldn’t want to get in the water, before long the shirts came off and they couldn’t resist running through the waves with laughter.
You also can’t visit the beach without waking early to catch the sunrise, and staying late to see it set. Brandon’s parents kept the kids for us so we could sneak out early the last morning to do just that, and so that we could stay up late for a sunset walk. It does the soul a lot of good to slow down and pay attention to the sameness and yet miraculous reality of the sun rising and setting day after day. It is sure, steady, predictable, unchanging. Yet, the scriptures say the faithfulness of our God is more sure than even this. More dependable. More to be expected. His mercy and love for us as sure as the sunrise. It is good for us to stop and take notice and to remember. After the sun was up, we explored the beach since the tide was very low. We watched the egrets and sandpipers searching for their breakfast, and we gathered bits of shells and coral to take home and add to our nature cabinet.
The ocean always does its good work on my soul when we are there, and for that I’m grateful. It was refreshing to be there, tiring as these sorts of trips are for parents of little children. It was a good sort of “tired” from trying to squeeze a lot of fun into a few scant days. We can’t wait to go again when we can, and carry all these happy memories in our hearts until then. It was a wonderful way to kick off our summer!
A couple of weeks ago on Memorial weekend, we took a long weekend to visit Brandon’s parents at the beach a few hours away. We haven’t been to visit them in quite some time, nor have we been to the ocean for a long while. It was so good to be away, to become acquainted with the ocean again and the wonders and wildlife that coastal ecosystems have to offer. Wren doesn’t have any memories of the ocean as far as I know, and she was very excited to go to the beach! We left on Thursday after Brandon came home from work and got there quite late that evening. Friday morning we had a relaxing start and then eagerly got ready for the beach. Wren was quite apprehensive about the water and it took her a couple of days to really warm up and feel brave to go in without holding someone’s hand. But by the end she was jumping and splashing in the waves laughing hysterically. The other kids took right to the water, playing on the boogie boards all day, building in the sand, or hunting for shells. Later, Brandon’s dad treated us to a ride on his sail boat. We motored in the intracoastal waterway to watch the sunset and it was both beautiful and peaceful. Bunny had to come along in a bag, just to make sure she didn’t get wet. I’ll share more photos from the rest of our time in the next blog post, there are just too many to share all at once! Suffice it to say, our time together there was relaxing and refreshing, and it did my heart a lot of good to see these kiddos laughing, exploring, playing nonstop, and being generally spoiled rotten by their grandparents. 🙂 What a gift.
These pictures are from the past several weeks and it is amazing how much has changed in our garden and in the natural world around us in that matter of time. The early blooms of the willow and the bradford pear have given way to green leaves. The lilac is almost ready to bloom. Daffodils, snowdrops, and crocuses are on their way out. My beautiful tulips and are mostly done. The forsythia lining the neighbors shed, just beginning to be visible in these pictures, has long since brilliantly bloomed and greened out. Now the peonies are beginning to grow, the bachelor’s buttons, mustard greens, and one little beet plant are growing rapidly in the garden. We’ve weeded and prepared the soil, and last weekend I spent the better part of Saturday shoveling compost over the garden and the other beds around our home. Coneflowers and poppies are beginning to come back, the flag iris, and the strawberries. Asparagus have already been sending up their shoots. Such a lively and vibrant time it is. Soon we will plant in the garden vegetables and herbs, but we’re waiting a few more weeks.
Meanwhile, we’ve been carrying on with school. It’s the time of year when we are all feeling really weary and ready for a hard stop. I’m grateful for the garden season which gives us a sense of freshness and an eagerness to learn outside in the growing of things. Philippa and I enjoyed working on her bird puzzle and Noah worked eagerly on his ocean anatomy puzzle. Wren actually helped a lot of with Noah’s puzzle and did surprisingly well finding pieces and putting it together. We’ve pulled out the paints a number of times on rainy days or just for fun. I try to be willing to pull out the paints whenever the kids ask, even though sometimes I don’t feel I have the energy for it. They love it and honestly create such beautiful little works of art. Next week we plan to take a week off for a late spring break and then we really only have a few more weeks until our school year should be done. The end is in sight! Not that I don’t love and cherish these times of learning together. But it is a lot of work for all of us and it’s always so good to step away for a bit.
Another project we began back in the fall but finished up earlier this spring was a small facelift in our bathroom. I’ll share some before and after photos below.
We still plan to fully gut this bathroom at some point, but in the meantime I just wanted to make a few changes to make it more our style. The janky medicine cabinet mirror/light drove me crazy and buzzed loudly whenever it was on. I didn’t love the shoddy paint job the previous owners had done. We had a bit of this dark evergreen paint left from painting our front door and so we used it in the bathroom which I really love. Brandon built the vanity from a piece of live-edge slab that he had, and I picked out the vessel sink and faucet (sink, faucet, light fixture and mirror all from Wayfair). Down the road when we do a bigger renovation of the shower and floor these pieces will still work in the space hopefully. We’re really happy with it and I’m buzzing with all that spring energy, wanting to tackle a lot of other projects around the house.
Easter Sunday was extra special this year. Last year we didn’t gather with family or friends so the celebration that we felt this year was even greater. What a joy to be with other believers celebrating the risen Lord Jesus together! We joined my brother and his family at their church for an outdoor service because my niece, Athaelia, was going to be baptized. It’s just hard to beat that kind of joy, friends. It was a very sweet and memorable day!
After worship we gathered at my parent’s house for Easter lunch and the kids did a small egg hunt. My parents always do such phenomenal meals, this one was no exception. Roasted lamb with a citrusy fresh salad, roasted parsnips and potatoes. I made a gluten free carrot cake for dessert for the kids and my mom made creme brûlée. So delicious! Best of all was the reason for our gathering and the freedom to do so.
“May this shared meal, and our pleasure in it,
bear witness against the artifice and deceptions
of the prince of the darkness that would blind this world to hope.
May it strike at the root of the lie that
would drain life of meaning, and
the world of joy, and suffering of redemption.
May this our feast fall like a great hammer blow
against that brittle night,
shattering the gloom, reawakening our hearts,
stirring our imaginations, focusing our vision
on the kingdom of heaven that is to come,
on the kingdom of heave that is promised,
on the kingdom that is already,
indeed, among us,
For the resurrection of all good things
has already joyfully begun.”
(Excerpt from Every Moment Holy, A Liturgy for Feasting with Friends)
With full hearts, we headed back home where we had our own little egg hunt planned for the kids per usual. My favorite is when they sit on the ground afterward with all their loot and sort through their goodies. We snapped a quick family picture which I will treasure. The brilliant hues of new growth, the persistent reach of vibrant blooms, the smell of fresh grass and lilac on the warming breeze. It is so good to revel in these spring things.
From last Easter till now the Lord really has done a great work in my little family, and continues to bring new life to places that needed reviving. Truly,
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad. (Psalm 126:3)
Happy Easter, friends. He is Risen! And no matter what else we are facing, no matter what else is true in our lives, this is true. Death is defeated, we have hope and life because of it.
Last night the wind howled around and shook our home for most of the night, even bringing limbs cracking and crashing to the ground in the dark. March certainly didn’t go out like a lamb. The temperatures are frigid this morning. So goes spring in the mountains, the tug and pull of winter and warmth.
When spring comes the parkway opens back up and I have been craving to visit our favorite places. Spring green creeps up slowly from the valleys to the mountaintops, so it is still more brown and wintry there than where we live. On Palm Sunday, though the weather was dreary, we still attempted to go for a hike since often we can get above the clouds and rain. Not so this time. It was absolutely wild up on the ridges, wind nearly knocking our children off their feet. Though we didn’t last long, it was still refreshing to be there and get out of the house for a bit. We packed a lunch and a thermos of hot chocolate and enjoyed hanging out nonetheless, despite some grumbling and complaints.
Also, I took the opportunity to get a few photos of my recently finished Stoker Shawl. I’ve been wearing it daily since finishing it and I really, really love it. It’s incredibly huge and warm. I think it’s a fairly simple design but I appreciate the details of texture like the bobbles down the spine, the tassels, and lace edging.
After watching all her siblings’ birthdays come and go this past winter, Wren has been wondering and asking regularly when it will finally be her turn. A few weeks ago as I was getting her dressed she begged, “Momma now can you make my buth-day? Because I’m bigger!” She has randomly asked me to make her “buth-day” a few times and I eventually came to understand she was talking about her cake. More than even her presents, she was excited about that cake. 🙂 The big day finally came last week. It’s hard to acknowledge that my little baby is really not a baby anymore, but a chatting, funny, mischievous three-year-old who is eager to keep up with her older brother and sisters. I sweetly reminisced on her birth, what a joyful and quiet time it was enjoying her arrival. She has brought such laughter and fun to our family these past three years in part because the older children have been old enough to really enjoy having a baby to carry around and take care of. They have enjoyed all her stages of growth and development just as Brandon and I have.
She wanted cereal for her birthday breakfast, and she was excited to see the balloon and bunny decorations. Afterwards she opened her gifts before daddy went to work. Her birthday sweater was the first thing she opened! I had stayed up until almost midnight the night prior finishing the last sleeve, weaving in ends and sewing on the two buttons. No time to block it, but she wouldn’t notice. (Now that I have blocked it, it looks better!) She wanted it on right away and has worn it most days since then. Very sweet girl to her mommy and very knit-worthy.
We gifted her a new backpack since the one she has been using isn’t very big or useful for hiking, and she’s starting to want to wear her backpack like the older kids when we go for hikes. We gave her a small journal with beeswax crayons in a little tin for her backpack travels. The best gifts are the ones they want to start using right away, and true to form she cracked open that tin and started coloring right away in her journal. We gave her The Story of the Orchestra: Carnival of Animals book because she loves this series so much. She was truly delighted! We also gave her the Our Little Adventures book set because it is beautiful, simple, and has bunnies and other forest creatures in it. She also received a new dress (called the wren dress), a sweet bunny pillow that I couldn’t resist from Target, a wooden animal/alphabet puzzle that she has enjoyed (and the other kids, too!), as well as a toy dragon (because for better or worse, all of my kids are obsessed with these dragons). Brandon’s parents gifted her with a sit-and-spin also.
My mom and the little guy she nannies (who is now a good friend to my kiddos) came over later in the morning and we made a trip out to Carl Sandburg to see the goats and go for a little walk. It was beautiful there and just starting to feel like spring, but we were bummed that the goat barn was still closed. Even still, it was a fun outing! Later, Wren finally got to have her cake. I made the same vegan carrot cake I’ve made every year for her so far (though this year I didn’t make it vegan) and it was delicious.
So it was all in all a very fun and happy day and I was sad to see it go. She is so proud to be three and bigger now, and I’m missing her little baby self but so grateful for the delight that it is to watch her grow.
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