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!

 

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.

welcome, wren josephine

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Born March 3 at 8:55 am, 7 lb 11 oz 20 inches long.

wren: ¬†“little conqueror”

josephine: ¬†feminine form of ‘joseph,’ meaning “God will add, God will increase”

In the past few years, I’ve noticed myself paying more attention to the birds. ¬†In these last weeks of February, spring weather has broken in early and the early dark of morning has been filled with birdsong. ¬†Brandon and I rarely agree easily on baby names but when I mentioned “wren” to him, he loved it immediately. ¬†From that point on both of us kept finding ourselves drawn to it and calling her “wren” in our minds. ¬†It seemed fitting that this little baby girl was coming into the world in the spring season, the first of my babies not to be born mid-winter, just like the birds returning to the mountains in spring and filling our mornings with song. ¬†Reading in the psalms lately in the early mornings while I listen to this backdrop of birdsong, scriptures about singing His praise:

God has been teaching me and reminding me to spend time praising Him, to do it as easily and early as the birds do every day, to praise Him even when I don’t feel like it, especially then, because no matter what my circumstances are, He is worthy of praise! ¬†My prayer for our little girl is that her life would be a hymn of praise to Him.

Brandon and I were praying about having another child, and even while we were unsure if we should have any more, God surprised us with her life. ¬†We delighted in that He would add to us, and we pray that He would also “increase” in her life and through her.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. ¬†My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” ¬†Psalm 28:7

“Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. ¬†You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance…Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” ¬†Psalm 32:6-7, 11

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him…Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” ¬†Psalm 33:1, 3

waiting

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It’s that time where I start to get texts and inquiries from people, where neighbors walk by and holler, “you still here?” and all those last minute projects feel so terribly crucial. ¬†Every day it seems I make a little bit of progress mentally in checking things off my list to be ready for baby. ¬†I’m just a few days away from my due date, but I’m feeling more peaceful about it all than I have with any of my other pregnancies. ¬†Thats a gift from the Lord! ¬†I had a ton of anxiety going into my birth with Philippa after such a traumatic delivery and recovery with Noah. ¬†Because her birth went so much better, I’m feeling more at peace with how this one will go. ¬†Of course, I say that and that could change as soon as labor actually begins! ¬†Pray for me and with me that I would remain at peace, fixed and focused, and full of joy. ¬†I’ve just been feeling more joy and excitement to meet this little one than anything else. ¬†I’m treasuring these last days with her moving around quietly inside, knowing I may never experience this again. ¬†And I’m enjoying good nights of solid rest, knowing those will evade me soon for some weeks.

I appreciate the little bursts of energy and motivation I have some days to get things accomplished that have been waiting for attention for months. ¬†Reorganizing the open shelving in our kitchen. ¬†Hanging new light fixtures as well as treasured photos that have been sitting in boxes since we moved in. ¬†Giving all the kids hair cuts on the porch, and wishing I could squeeze in one for myself. ¬†(I’m desperate enough to be tempted to cut my own.) ¬†I love seeing the little basinet in our bedroom when I glance down the hall, knowing it will have new life in it again soon. ¬†This new little person we don’t know yet, but soon won’t be able to imagine our lives without. ¬†The bursts of energy do help to get projects done, but usually they are followed by days of increased tiredness. ¬†It’s just the rhythm for now, and I’m being gentle with myself in it, for the most part.

Phoebe and I are still working diligently on school, but I can feel myself losing steam and motivation there. ¬†Brandon is starting to take her to her weekly co-op so I can stay home with the littles and the change of schedule is a little weird for us, but also really neat to have him more involved in her schooling. ¬†It’ll only be short-term as I recover from birth and keep the baby home for the first number of weeks. ¬†My parents treated us to a really fancy date the other night, maybe the nicest restaurant we’ve ever eaten at, and we talked so much about our kids and schooling. ¬†His thoughts and observations were really fun to hear and helpful to me, and made me feel like he’s getting a peek into my “work” that helps him understand a bit more of my world. ¬†I love that he’s interested and truly enjoys doing schooling with Phoebe when he gets the chance, and that he has ideas and excitement for our future in it with all the kids.

My parents also gifted us a new BOB stroller which is so generous and helpful, and when they were watching the kids during our date the other night, they all brainstormed name ideas and wrote them all over the box. ¬†Super cute, and I wanted to snap a picture of it so we don’t forget. ¬†We still haven’t 100% decided on a name, I have literally so many I love (few that Brandon approves of, though), and I think as usual we’ll just need to meet her and see what fits. ¬†But don’t give me suggestions!! ¬†We want to name this little one. ūüôā

This week has been up in the mid-seventies and sunny here in NC, and it feels so odd to me to be ready to welcome a baby in such weather! ¬†All my babies thus far have been born in the deep middle of winter. ¬†It’s fun and different this time. ¬†I have a feeling this little one wants a March birthday. ¬†I’ll keep you posted, but know that it may be quieter around the blog for a little bit!