arbor vitae


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.

yarn along


I split for sleeves on Phoebe’s birthday sweater last night (finally!) and I’m a little nervous that at this rate it’s probably unlikely I will finish this in time for her birthday later this month.  It’s just slow going, all-over color work with fingering weight yarn.  However, it will be so pretty in the end.  Can you see the horses on the yoke?  I’m hoping now that that part of the pattern is done, the body section will go a little faster (the chart is a bit simpler).

I grabbed Elli and the Harp Maker while at the library yesterday.  When we are there I rarely have time to look for books for myself but I saw this one as I was walking to the children’s section and it caught my eye.  I started it last night, and realized it’s been a long time since I’ve ready some fiction.  It was so nice to fall into a story.  I don’t know much about it and not sure if I will love it, but it was good light reading so far.  Do you have any fiction recommendations for me?  I’m in need of some, I realize.

Joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On, and Ginny’s monthly Yarn Along.
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sick for her 5th


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.


yarn along


These November days have flown by and it sounds cliche but its hard to believe we are in the last few days until December.  I am just finishing the neckline of Noah’s birthday sweater so his should be done well in time for his birthday.  All my knitting time is going toward Phoebe’s birthday sweater now, which is so so fun to work on.  I’m really loving the yarn.  I’m finally knitting the horses part of the yoke and it’s fun to see them taking shape.

Not much reading this past week, we have a lot of sickness in the house and I’ve been up most nights either coughing myself or checking on feverish coughing children.  Too tired for much reading come bed time.  However, there’s always time for reading books with the children especially as we are cooped up with colds.  I love the wintry illustrations of Sing a Season Song.  All of our Christmas and Advent books are packed away with Christmas decorations in the attic and I can’t wait to pull that box out soon and enjoy those special books again.

Joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
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Sometimes we need to get alone, to be quiet, to remember that in the wide world we are at our very core a human before God.  It has been a long time since I have had more than a few hours alone.  It was three or four years ago now that I began this little tradition of taking time away in November.  The bleak month that sits between the wild blaze of October and before the busy hustle of Christmas, it is a quieter month where the gentle woods in our mountains seem to open up and I feel like I can breathe.

The first time I did this a few years ago, I was in a world of pain over Phoebe’s diagnosis with an autoimmune disease and her very rough battle initially to find healing.  I was more exhausted than even I realized, and when I drove that lonely drive a few hours away to a cabin in the high country I felt like I could have cried and cried for days on end.  Instead, I couldn’t find the tears, the well of pain so deep. Forest fires were raging in our area then, we were desperate for rain, the air outside was foggy and acrid with smoke.  I felt like it mirrored my soul.  Parched, burning, in agony.  When I arrived that first time in the dark of night, scared and sort of regretting this decision to traipse off alone, the cabin was warmed, a light was on, the table was set with beautiful handmade pottery and simple candles.  I heard the Lord’s whisper: “A place has been set for you.  A table has been prepared for you.  Come, sit.  Eat.”  Immediately I knew this was something essential for my soul, whatever the cost and however difficult it was to justify the extravagance of a couple of days away from home.  It was a very healing time in His presence.  The next couple of times I have gone, it was been with a baby in tow, which is still good but definitely not the same kind of rest.

This time it felt foreign again to be truly alone.  In college while teaching Outdoor Education, we understood and practiced regular times of solo.  Almost every outdoor trip included a period of solo. A solo experience for me is always both painful and blissful.  It is quiet and meditative and I can hear myself think.  There is room for listening, for reflection, for long periods of being.  But there is also the resistance to being alone, the scramble to fill the space with noise and company for comfort.  (Yet also in my college days I didn’t realize how much time each day I had alone and in quiet.  I naturally preserved a portion of the day for that because it was easy to do so, whereas now it is nearly impossible.)

Every time I go to this little cabin, I fear that this time won’t be as good, this time the Lord’s presence will not be with me, or that I won’t hear Him speak to me.  Yet every time, He is so faithful.  I brim with tears as I think on it.  He always, always meets me with His word.  Lavishes me with His love.  I went with open hands, feeling exhaustion and pain over other battles in life I am fighting.  Feeling the weight of my sin.

Yet always, He knits me back together.  He re-members me in these sacred days alone.  I am intentionally very quiet before Him, savoring the sounds of wind in pine and bare branch.  I spend time hiking and sitting in the wilderness alone.  I spend time reading, resting, knitting, praying.  I fast from care-taking for others every waking moment, and it is hard to reprogram and let the roles of wife and mother fall away briefly so that I can remember: I am His and He is Mine.  This must be first and foremost, He must be first and foremost so that I can be of any use or good in those other roles.

I find that when I am still and quiet and have space to rest, what rises to the surface of my soul and what pours out surprises me.  He renews me and strengthens me by His Word and by His presence with me.  I re-member some of who I am that gets lost and buried in the busyness of my current season.  I am able to refocus.  I am able to be a  human before God.  I receive His love.  I remember the tHe

I came home on Sunday around lunch time and was ready to dive back into the work He has for me.  I can’t believe how refreshed and cheerful I feel to do so, filled with thanks.  How light the burden feels now that once felt so heavy.  The difference?  Rest.  Perspective.

I pray that you, too, are able to carve out some space to be alone with God, to intentionally pursue spiritual retreat and also just the activities that make you feel human.  I believe there are ways to be creative to make this happen, even in our most pinched seasons.  It feels like a waste, an extravagance, a selfishness even.  But every time the fruit borne of it reminds me that it is none of those things.

God loves you.  God is for you.  God is with you.  O tidings of comfort and joy!

“Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
and great is your love toward all who call upon you.”

Teach me your way, O Lord,
and I will walk in your truth;
knit my hear to you that I may
fear your Name.”
Psalm 86: 4-5, 11

(A huge thanks is due to Brandon who fights hard for me to take this time away, is always in full support of it, argues with me to go when I try to bail, and mans the fort with ease while I’m gone.  He is my biggest champion and support, and that is a grace undeserved!)

yarn along


I’ve been knitting mostly on Noah’s birthday sweater, finishing both sleeves and attaching them to the body, and then realized I was running out of the blue yarn for the last bit of blue stripe.  Woe is me. 😦 I tried to figure out ways to get around ordering another skein of yarn, but in the end I know I won’t like the look of it with one stripe being the wrong size and then I will likely run out of yarn in the other colors if I try to stretch them to take up the yardage of the blue stripe.  Needless to say, I admitted defeat and ordered another skein.  So that sweater is on hold for a few days.  It should be fairly quick to finish once the yarn arrives.

Meanwhile, I cast on Phoebe’s birthday sweater.  This sweater is a bit of a gamble as I’m trying to adjust an adult-sized sweater down to Phoebe’s size by using smaller yarn and needles and a tight gauge.  I think it is ambitious to hope to have it done within a month, it’s possible but I doubt it.  I couldn’t resist this sweater though because of the horses on the yoke.  Phoebe is going to love it, even if I finish it after her birthday.

Still reading On the Road with Saint Augustine.

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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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