a big girl

DSC_0006DSC_0008 (1)DSC_0016DSC_0017DSC_0021DSC_0025DSC_0028DSC_0031DSC_0034DSC_0037DSC_0044DSC_0047DSC_0054DSC_0005DSC_0010 (1)DSC_0015DSC_0020DSC_0021 (1)DSC_0029DSC_0032DSC_0033DSC_0039DSC_0040DSC_0041DSC_0047 (1)DSC_0050DSC_0054 (1)DSC_0060DSC_0064DSC_0065DSC_0070DSC_0074DSC_0078DSC_0084DSC_0088DSC_0089DSC_0092DSC_0023DSC_0026DSC_0035DSC_0040 (1)DSC_0041 (1)DSC_0043 (2)DSC_0047 (2)DSC_0051DSC_0054 (2)DSC_0058DSC_0060 (1)DSC_0078 (1)

The day before Thanksgiving was Philippa’s third birthday.  Being that all of our children thus far have birthdays around the holidays, we often struggle with how to celebrate both Christmas and birthdays reasonably, simply, and economically.  We’ve tried different things each year, it seems.  This year, we’re making a bit more of birthdays and planning a lower-key, less-gifts sort of Christmas.

Philippa woke on her day early, and it’s the first birthday where she has really talked about it for weeks before her big day, and both girls woke up eager for birthday fun (Phoebe enjoys other people’s birthdays just as much as her own).  Phippa really can’t wait to be “a big girl.”  We had to wake sleepy Noah up a bit early that morning so birthday girl could open a few gifts before daddy headed off to work.  Usually we let the birthday child decide the meal plan and activities for the day, but her only real request was for chocolate cake with blueberries.  A girl who knows what she wants. 🙂  We gave her a few gifts in the morning–a hand-dyed play silk from my favorite blogger, Ginny, and her lovely little handmade shop.  It smells heavenly and is simply gorgeous.  Ginny generously sent along some stickers (made from her own nature photography) as well for Philippa, which was such a treat (though I was tempted to keep them for myself).  She also sweetly worked hard to get Philippa’s gift to her on time, which meant a lot to me!  We let Philippa open her birthday dress and her toy, which was a wooden stable with horses.  That was a huge hit with each of the kids and they all played with it all day.

I made a grain-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free chocolate cake from the Celebrations cookbook (sidenote: amazing cookbook!) for Philippa, topped with the vanilla buttercream from the same cookbook.  I did something funny/wrong with the frosting so I had to play a bit with it to get it to spread on the cake, but it ended up being delicious.

We had a fairly regular sort of day otherwise, school and cleaning and playing outside.  Daddy came home with a balloon for her, which she loved.  After dinner my parents stopped by with their gift for Philippa and we let her open the rest of the gifts before cake.  We gave her her own “journal” (from Michaels) and her first real set of colored pencils.  I found a really cute handmade pencil roll-up case at this etsy shop, and it happened to have foxes on it, which Philippa loves.  I wasn’t sure if she’d be too young to appreciate it, but she has treasured this little gift every day since, and has used many of her stickers from Ginny to decorate her journal, too.  She seems to feel quite grown up with own little set of pencils.  My parents gifted her a sweet new dress and pair of pajamas, and a tiny little mini mug.  She opened my hand knit sweater for her and promptly tossed it aside, as she did with the rest of the clothes, but the next day she was eager to try everything on and wear it.  We also gave her a ukulele, and it has been okay, but I didn’t realize it wasn’t real wood and sort of wish we had gotten this one for her.  Still, for our music-loving kids, it has been fun for each of them to have something to play together (Phoebe, her violin; Noah his drums, and now Philippa her little uke).

A couple days later Philippa agreed to let me snap some pictures of her in her sweater that I made (ravelry notes here), and I’m super proud of it.  I feel like it’s the first one I’ve made that has fit how I wanted it to.  It’s a cropped sweater, so the body is supposed to be short on it, and it looks darling over dresses.  She seems to really like it, too.

It was a fun day, even though there were some usual hiccups and challenges along the way.  Her hair did briefly catch on fire while blowing out candles.  🙂  I remember Philippa’s second birthday being hard, her being out of sorts and unusually grumpy and strung out, and she was a bit like this on this birthday, too.  All the attention is a bit much, even though she loves it at the same time.  Although in reality, their birthdays make me feel a bit strung out, too, trying to make it a special day.  Simple is always best, right?

We are pretty thankful to get to know this precocious, funny and darling little girl.  Lately she keeps coming up to Brandon and I and rubbing our arms and saying, “I lus you daddy” or “I lus you momma.”  We live for those sweet little unexpected moments.

Philippa’s first birthday here, second birthday here.

(Affiliate links included in this post.)

a (late) birthday letter

DSC_0043

hey baby girl.  can it really be?  you’re finally three.  i look back on those early days with you–oh, how happy they were.  you were born in laughter, and you were your strong-natured unique and spicy little self right from the start.  you were born just days before Thanksgiving and with everyone busy with family and festivities, we had a quiet few days alone together at home enjoying new you and the sleepy early days.

this past year with you has been fun and full and hard, a bit, too.  being two is hard, and maybe being three won’t be much easier.  but i see you growing and changing and learning, and i’m proud of you!  you began talking up a storm this year, and hearing more of your little thoughts and funny words for things has kept us laughing.  You call your bottom your “bawnos” and your fingers “fing-wey” or “fing-wa.”  hugs are “squishees.”  you call my yarn my “kninning” and my needles “neenles.”  i love the way you run, little arms down and flapping back and forth.  you love “moomies,” get excited about anything phoebe and noah are excited about, and you still love to be the family clown and make everyone laugh.

you can be bossy and head strong but also so sensitive, and a harsh word can easily send you into tears.  this year we worked on potty training, and it was a long, long road–with still some hard days here and there, but you’ve made great progress and how you’ve loved your new big-girl status.

you and noah are inseparable, the very best of friends.  often when i’m busy in the mornings doing school with phoebe, you two are off playing together somewhere and, boy, do you love to laugh together.  i hope your bond stays strong all of your days.

often you ask me how the baby is doing, and you seem so excited to be a big sister and not the littlest one anymore.  i think you’re going to love it and be a very good big sister.

sweet girl, you have a tender and joyful spirit.  i still love our evening sings and prayer time, just you and me.  watching you grow up is a delight.  seeing you become more interested in our morning family time in scripture, and your interest to always try and answer the questions.  to sense in you a love for God and to hear you pray is a blessing.  i pray for you continually to love Him, to walk with Him all your days, to know the joy it is to grow up in the shadow of His wings, facing all your days with Him.  He has a great plan for you life little one, and i’m thankful we get to be a part of it.

happy third birthday, philippa ruth.  i love you so ❤

mommy

 

paying attention

DSC_0001DSC_0002DSC_0004DSC_0005DSC_0006DSC_0009 (1)DSC_0011 (2)DSC_0012DSC_0014DSC_0016DSC_0024 (1)DSC_0030DSC_0033DSC_0036DSC_0001 (1)DSC_0011 (3)DSC_0013DSC_0021DSC_0022DSC_0036 (1)

I seem to be always so behind in posting updates about our little days here.  It’s been weeks since Halloween, but here are a few snapshots from that day.  We don’t make a huge fuss of the holiday, since we don’t allow the kiddos to eat anything they would pick up trick-or-treating, and because funds are tight and I don’t care to invest much in short-lived costumes.  There is so much Phoebe already misses out on, so I do try to make an effort for her to participate in as many things as I’m able.  I picked out some candies for the kids from our local health food store, things that were certified GF and also free of dyes and corn syrup, etc.  We carved pumpkins, each of them picking out their own design and helping however they wanted in the process.  Noah was batman for maybe the third year in a row?  I didn’t mind one bit.  That costume was a good buy. 🙂  Phoebe wanted to be Sacagawea, but changed her mind to being Kaya (her American girl doll) at the last minute.  I had wanted to make her a simple cute fawn costume since she is obsessed with deer/fawns, but.. the indian costume was fine, already available.  Philippa was a little kitty, one of her favorite animals to pretend to be anyway.  We let them trick-or-treat around our block, since this is the first time we’ve lived anywhere with neighbors close by to even be able to trick-or-treat.  We traded their collected candy with my previously purchased goods, and handed out candy to a few neighbors who came by. The rest of the “junk candy” leftover I gave to Brandon to share with guys at work or dump.

We’ve finished up a semester of school with our co-op, though Phoebe and I will carry on with school through part of December to try and get as much done before baby comes in February and interrupts our rhythms a bit.  The blustery and sometimes dreary November days have kept us inside sometimes, cuddling under blankets and piles of books or hand crafts.  Our days feel full to the brim with schooling, errands, house work, playdates, library and park visits, playing outside, house projects, etc.  Slowly we go, it seems.  Some days I love the simplicity, somedays the mundane gets to me.  But always, I treasure this season with these little ones growing so fast.

We are entering birthday season in the midst of holiday season, and I’m often looking at these little ones with misty eyes.  Another year, already?  How it flies by, while feeling all the while like it’s crawling along maddeningly.  Philippa turns three this week, and I’ve been busy planning and ordering her gifts, hoping everything arrives in time for her day.    These days grow so full and busy and I’m always striving for ways to slow it down and hang on to the end of the year, trying to savor it all before it finishes.  I remember Ann Voskamp’s old well-worn words, that we weigh moments down with our attention.  So I’m trying to pay close attention to this day, this moment, to really see it–to know it is fleeting.  To slow down and see: how Philippa is still two years old for two more days, the way the light moves across the room throughout the day, their laughter in the chilly air, our quiet walks over crunching leaves, the boredom and the glory all rolled somehow together into one.

we took to the woods

DSC_0105DSC_0046DSC_0053DSC_0056DSC_0057DSC_0058DSC_0059DSC_0060DSC_0069DSC_0072DSC_0073DSC_0076DSC_0079DSC_0084DSC_0086DSC_0088DSC_0089DSC_0094DSC_0095DSC_0097DSC_0100DSC_0101DSC_0102DSC_0112DSC_0117DSC_0121DSC_0127DSC_0133DSC_0135DSC_0137DSC_0139DSC_0141DSC_0144DSC_0143DSC_0155DSC_0157DSC_0169DSC_0172DSC_0181DSC_0190DSC_0200DSC_0202DSC_0204DSC_0207DSC_0208DSC_0210DSC_0211DSC_0212DSC_0217DSC_0220DSC_0228DSC_0232DSC_0238DSC_0240

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Berry

a background of beauty

DSC_0001DSC_0005DSC_0009 (2)DSC_0010 (1)DSC_0011 (2)DSC_0142DSC_0162DSC_0174DSC_0171DSC_0175DSC_0183DSC_0168DSC_0176DSC_0158DSC_0144DSC_0145DSC_0153DSC_0191DSC_0010 (3)DSC_0015DSC_0018DSC_0021DSC_0024DSC_0026DSC_0027DSC_0028 (1)DSC_0031DSC_0013DSC_0032 (1)DSC_0045

It’s hard to believe it is the last week of October.  This month is slipping by so quickly, this shoulder month when days flicker between feeling summery and wintry.  We play outside so much during this month and want to soak up every minute of it.  The way the light seems somehow richer, golden, playful.  The sound of the dry leaves clattering to the ground, the crisp air, pumpkins sprinkled everywhere.  I’m slowly trying to make headway on home projects, mainly getting more organized inside our home.  I’ve struggled to feel at home here, and I’m eager to hang pictures and find homes for every little thing, making sense of the space we have.  Something in me longs to make a beautiful, simple, and inviting home for my family and also anyone else who comes into our home.  It often feels overrun by the chaos of books and papers, toys and random articles of clothing that have been dispensed of.  Such is life with small children, but still we can’t give up entirely.  Children inherently love cozy–waking with tousled hair and pulling a chair up by the fire in the early morning dark.  Happily digging through the bin of winter hats and gloves and finding their old favorites once again.  Setting up little homes outside and in, building forts in with fallen limbs and creating elaborate block fortresses.  I think of these words from Edith Schaeffer:

In spite of wilting leaves after a period of time, the memory of that table is as vivid as if it had painted on canvas.  Indeed, the memory of even short-lived beauty makes it worthwhile to take time and energy to provide a background of beauty for the human relationships developing in your home.  Children growing up in an atmosphere where beauty is considered an important part of daily life cannot help being inspired to develop their own original ideas in these areas, nor can they help being prepared to live aesthetically themselves.

-The Hidden Art of Homemaking

The reality is life isn’t always beautiful, even in our own homes where we long to create a haven and a rest from the cruel and dark world.  So this work is hard, plodding, slow, marked by repentance and effort and dependence on God.

This year we’ve done some of our usual fall traditions: picking apples, visiting a farm, painting pumpkins, leaf rubbings.  What are some of your favorite fall traditions?  I’m slowly getting back into my knitting rhythms, so very happily.  I’ve cast on for Philippa’s birthday sweater (her birthday is one month from today!) with that lovely shepherd’s wool, and I have so many ideas for each of the kid’s birthdays and christmas this year.  Brandon (with the help of my dad) brought home a free play gym that they disassembled from a neighbor’s yard, and we have plans to reassemble and fix it up soon as part of the children’s christmas present.  Many projects on the go, many still to come, while we spend our days doing school, reading books, collecting and making pretty things.  The very best time of year is still to come, and I’m wanting to clear our home and hearts, preparing and making room for the happiest season of celebrating birthdays and Christmas.

i’ll let phoebe tell you…

Eee!  I am truly surprised, we all are.  We weren’t sure if we would find out baby’s gender this time around, and I kept going back and forth about it until Brandon said, “We’re just not those people who wait.”  I laughed.. well, so be it.  I think it’s good for us to know ahead–gives the kiddos time to wrap their minds around it–and me too!  I’m super shocked.  We had the 20 wk ultrasound on Tuesday, and everything looks good with the baby.  That’s always the biggest relief, and so fun to watch baby waving and wiggling and kicking.  We thought we’d do something more fancy for a gender reveal but Phoebe was begging me all day to open the envelope, and in reality, I don’t have much energy for fancy things lately.  It seemed fitting to just let her open it after dinner Tuesday evening and share the news together intimately as a family first.  So, there you have it.  I’ve already cast on the first baby knit!  Somehow “knowing” helps me want to knit for baby.

family time away

DSC_0006DSC_0008 (1)DSC_0009 (1)DSC_0012DSC_0015DSC_0021DSC_0022DSC_0024DSC_0027DSC_0031DSC_0035DSC_0036DSC_0039DSC_0044DSC_0045DSC_0049DSC_0051DSC_0059DSC_0061DSC_0062DSC_0063DSC_0066DSC_0080DSC_0085DSC_0095DSC_0098DSC_0100DSC_0101DSC_0103DSC_0107DSC_0114DSC_0120DSC_0122DSC_0126DSC_0134DSC_0129DSC_0137DSC_0145DSC_0142DSC_0148DSC_0156DSC_0157DSC_0162DSC_0167DSC_0170DSC_0172DSC_0176DSC_0181DSC_0192DSC_0194DSC_0196DSC_0201

A couple of weeks ago we took a few days to visit Brandon’s parents in North Myrtle Beach.  It was really our only family getaway for the year, and I was especially grateful for some time to be all together, for the kids to have some extended time with their daddy and for us all to have a chance to change pace and relax.  Brandon’s parents are so kind and generous to host a family of five (with some challenging dietary needs, as well), and we are thankful to them!

As you can see, we soaked up the beach most of the time we were there.  Both B and I feel a bit like we’re coming home when we spend time at the ocean.  We will alway love living in the mountains, but need regular doses of the sunny warm ocean, too.  We love a little bit of wilderness, wherever we can find it.  It was especially fun to watch Philippa on this trip, as it was her first real experience with it all, and she was so enamored.  Fearless, too.  She loved jumping in the waves and digging in the sand.  Until she didn’t, and then she just “wanted to go home.”  🙂  Mostly, she loved it. We enjoyed exploring the tidal pools and hunting for treasures, finding lots of crabs, seeing little fish, and the usual sea shells.  Phoebe discovered the joy of riding waves on the boogie board, and she spent lots of time with daddy catching waves.  She very rarely stops moving, that one.  Noah enjoyed watching the boats from the marina.  Unfortunately all of the kids were battling a bad head cold, so there was more fussiness than usual, but we all still had fun.  B’s parents treated us to a trip to the aquarium and also took the kids out for put-put one night while B and I had a dinner date.  It was a fun five days away, but it’s always wonderful to come back home again.