December festivities

Forgive me while I catch up here on all the December happenings! It feels like I haven’t had a free day at home to do so all month. Today is the day before Phoebe’s birthday and I have wrapped all gifts and plan to make her birthday dessert today so that tomorrow can be a little less stressful.

The first two weeks of December were busy with wrapping up our last bits of school before taking a nice long break. Phoebe’s choir had a Christmas concert (done safely with social distancing and masks where needed) and it was something special to hear their beautiful voices and various girls’ instruments after such a year of isolation. A few days later Noah and Phoebe had a piano recital, their first one in person after a zoom spring recital. What a good experience for them to play their pieces in front of a (small) audience! My camera was acting up and I didn’t get many photos of Noah playing sadly.

The first weekend of December I threw a very small joint birthday party for Noah and Phoebe. Not one to usually do parties, I’m so glad we did. It was very sweet for them to have three of their close friends over (that we already regularly see). Phoebe wanted to have an American doll tea party, and I wonder if this might be the last year she is into dolls? She did all of the setup, made little place cards and assigned seats, while I prepared a few little snacks for the girls to enjoy. I think it was really fun! Meanwhile, Brandon met Noah’s friends at a nearby mini golf course and they played a round of mini golf together and had cupcakes there. I was bummed to not be able to be there, but the point was to give the kids some time with their friends and there was no other way to make two parties happen this month! I’m pretty pleased with how it all went.

Meanwhile, Brandon and I have started just a small update on our tiny master bathroom. We haven’t done anything to it since buying the home three years ago and it is quite an eyesore. I will share better “before and after” pictures once we finish this first phase of updating (these are all “before”). We hope to eventually remodel the bathroom entirely, but in the meantime I had a can of paint leftover from painting our front door and I felt that it would make a big difference just to repaint the wall above the tile in bathroom, change the mirror and light fixture and vanity. It’s going slowly because theres just not much time this month for working on it, so for now our bedroom is in a bit of a state of disarray. I don’t mind so much because it is so exciting to see improvements!

It has been good to have quieter, simpler days at home, free time to do crafts or adventures and stay in our pajamas all day. I’m still hoping to make some Christmas cookies together and get to organizing some closets and our school room before our break is over. Tomorrow is Phoebe’s birthday and I still need to share photos from Noah’s birthday. Busy, busy. If I don’t post before then, I pray your Christmas season is merry and bright, rich in love, peaceful, pierced with a particular joy that comes from slowing down, savoring God’s good gifts. I pray you can gather with a loved one or two and that whomever you spend Christmas with, you enjoy the gift of each other’s presence.

her birthday weekend {6 years old}

Let the festivities begin! December comes and I tend to feel like my blogging is just recording one big family celebration after another, be it birthdays, Thanksgiving, more birthdays, recitals, performances, more birthdays, and then finally Christmas just before all the New Year reflections and preparations. I never would have guessed how busy this time of year would become for our family but as God would have it, our holiday season is full of birthdays! So much celebrating and big feelings and thoughts to document, and I appreciate so much that some of you feel it and care to journey along with me.

With the arrival of Philippa’s birthday the busy season begins. I’m not much for busy and try to minimize it as much as possible, yet with young children it can’t be avoided entirely. I was grateful that there were a few days between Philippa’s birthday and Thanksgiving this year so I uncharacteristically felt up to attempting a very small birthday party. Usually I just don’t have the bandwidth to add that in but I’m glad to have made space and energy for it. Philippa invited two dear friends and her cousin bff and we had a small little gathering with family and friends. My plans to keep things relatively calm went well largely due to the fun sewing craft we did. I found this sweet woodlands animal sewing craft for the girls to do. Everything came ready to go with instructions for each creature. I had hoped to do this set with the ulterior motive of ending up with some pretty felt ornaments for our Christmas tree, but Brandon talked me out of it since they were geared toward ages 12 and up. I think the one we picked was really good for 5-6 year olds, and my older two enjoyed participating, too!

The next morning was her actual birthday and she requested her gifts be hidden around the house for her to find, which was great fun in the morning. We gifted her a few things she requested: a polaroid-type camera, a new dragon, a book of dragon stickers, her birthday sweater. As for her birthday sweater, she has worn it almost daily since her birthday. Success! It fits her well and she really seems to love it. I’m glad to finally have made her something that fits her taste. ūüôā

She requested chicken soup and bread for her birthday dinner, a meal that everyone likes in our family. I made her the cake she requested also, with sprinkles on it. Philippa is a happy, easy-go-lucky, giggly, silly, and friend-to-all kind of girl who loves animals, dragons, forts and imaginative games. She loves playing with others and is easy to get along with, happy with whatever she’s doing for the most part. We’re so proud of her, her generosity with and love for others, her growing love for God, her tender heart.

We love you, Philippa Ruth. Happy 6th birthday. ‚̧

seasons

A few weeks ago now, I met up with my two best girlfriends from college at a central spot for a day of hiking + catching up with one another. It was such a restorative time. Time away from the usual bustle of family life and mothering duties, time spent in the quiet of nature in her brilliant glowing last-light of warm colors before surrendering to winter hues. Time spent sharing hearts, hearing about one another’s lives and journeys, and remembering the sweet college days when these hang outs were a regular occurrence. Lifelong friendships are a huge gift, one I don’t take lightly, and I count myself incredibly blessed to call these two particular women close friends. This year has been one of the hardest I’ve ever journeyed through personally, I know it has been hard for many of us. Yet it is not without its beauty and goodness, and for that, how can we not sing God’s praise? Even in the most barren ground, there is still some redeemable aspect, some beauty to be found. So I wanted to share with you these simple photos of a beautiful place at the most beautiful time of year. Fall is giving way to winter now, frosty mornings and bare scraggly branches scraping lightest blue sky. Seasons come and go, and there is relief in that knowing. ‚̧

respite

Ever since we visited this beautiful, quiet lakehouse last year we’ve been anticipating and hoping to return. We saved and planned, then held plans loosely as life came with interruptions and the world faced a pandemic. So we felt especially grateful and blessed to return to this place. This time we knew what to expect, how wonderful it would be. Did I mention how quiet it is? How good it was to ease into a different sort of rhythm, early sunrise mornings on the dock, late starlit evenings there, too. The peaceful sounds of crisp leaves and lapping water. Long stretches of time together without the usual bustle of schoolwork, activities, and work vying for our attention. We savored swimming, playing, fishing, knitting (for me), canoeing, exploring, reading, resting. It was a sweet and needful time of reconnecting with God, with each other, in the beauty of creation. It felt like summer’s last hurrah, the last of the sunscreen slathered on. The water was icy cold and yet it was refreshing when the sun was blazing. One night we had wild winds and freezing temperatures, which gave us the most stunning misty sunrise on the lake the next day. I couldn’t imagine getting back in that freezing mountain lake water then but by mid-morning it was toasty warm again. Such is fall in the mountains. Noah and Philippa fished and fished, and I was so disappointed for them that they never caught anything. Brandon caught the only two fish of the trip.

Still it was a happy time together, many sweet memories made in the sweet month of October with beautiful leaves changing all around. It couldn’t have been more needed after a year like this year, and I know so many of you understand. I hope you have been able to find respite, too. When Brandon and I paddled all around the lake with the children in the canoe it seemed so strange, all of us tucked neatly into this one little boat. All this love and noise and life contained in this one little vessel, so small in the world, Brandon and I carrying us forward, directing, safe-keeping. Their easy trust and childlike dependence, such a precious gift. Brandon and I, too, looking in dependence to our Father as we make our way in this wild world, hoping to do some good for Him in it all, carried by His grace.

yarn along

Last week we went away to a lake house for a few days and it was so restful and nice. I cast on a dogstar sweater for Philippa while there, since her birthday is about a month away and I like to get a head start on birthday sweaters. I knitted both sleeves while there and got started on the body. It’s a bottom-up sweater, which isn’t my favorite construction, but it is nice to know the sleeves are done already. The yarn is a merino cashmere blend, very soft for my prickle-sensitive girl, and it has been quite nice to have in hand. Knitting the body is just mindless and easy, very soothing. I made simple modifications to the sweater, adding part of the colorwork motif to the bottom of both sleeves and also the bottom of the body, as Philippa requested. I hope she loves it, she is notoriously disdainful of the sweaters I knit for her, but also always requests one. ūüôā Handknit socks, however, are definitely her jam.

I planned to do a lot of reading during our time away but vacations with small children are never quite as restful as one imagines. ūüôā I have been reading Boundaries, and while it’s not really super “fun” reading, it has been interesting and helpful. It has sparked a lot of good conversation between Brandon and I. Be that as it may, I’m needing some kind of fiction read on the go soon.

I’d love to hear what you are making or reading lately, if you care to share!

september orchards

It’s hard to believe I took these photos weeks ago now and have been meaning to share them here. Are our little days really so busy? But they are. Each new school year brings longer school days it seems, and more activities in the afternoons. Although I’m happy with the schedule and rhythm we have set up, it is a challenge making time to get on here and blog. Day’s end finds me exhausted as I crawl into bed, however a good and satisfied kind of tired it is.

Anyway, back to the belated photos. A few weeks ago Brandon’s parents came for the weekend to visit and we decided to take everyone to a local orchard. It was one of the first chilly days and we (happily!) pulled out our sweaters. We live in the heart of apple country with many orchards to choose from (though we wish there were more organic options). Hoping to avoid the crowds, we kept to the rows picking fruit rather than doing the other activities the orchard offers. It was a sweet time together, everyone becoming like children again hunting for apples without blemishes and filling up boxes and wagons with their finds. Walking amongst rows spiced with that particular sweet, musky scent of fallen and decomposing apple, everyone on a treasure hunt for hidden red and green baubles, one can’t help but feel rejuvenated and refreshed. We took home one small box and a few days later I washed and peeled them and made a delicious batch of applesauce, about the easiest thing you can do with fresh apples. Sweet memories were made and fall feelings began to warm our hearts . ‚̧

golden hour

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Rain is gently pattering on the metal roof on the sunroom adjacent to where I type and isn’t supposed to let up all day. ¬†One can hardly complain with the state of the west coast and how needed rain is there. ¬†Children are quietly (and not so quietly) working on the day’s schoolwork. ¬†Now they are off playing a game of hide and seek and screaming throughout the house. ¬†We are into our fifth week of school, hard to believe how quickly these first weeks have flown by. ¬†Overall it has gone very well so far, better than I expected. ¬†I began a more structured school day schedule for us last year and I’ve adapted it and solidified it more this year, and I think that’s really been essential for us. ¬†It’s good to be back in the flow. ¬†Be that as it may, there’s always a level of chaos amidst all the flurry of activity in the school room as I bounce between different children offering help. ¬†It does feel busier though with more on our plates, and even getting on the computer to share a blog post feels harder to do.

In the midst of all this constant rain, I’m looking back on the photos for this post. ¬†Labor day weekend we went for a picnic to Mt. Mitchell, which is relatively close to us and is the highest peak East of the Mississippi. ¬† I do so crave getting up high and seeing a beautiful view. ¬†We hiked the Deep Gap trailhead at Mt. Mitchell over to the first peak, Mount Craig, and enjoyed the stunning views from there. ¬†Wren would have hiked the whole way if we let her, such a little one but so strong and determined to keep up with everyone else. ¬†I think the last time I hiked to that peak was when Brandon and I went backpacking for a few days for our tenth anniversary. ¬†Then it was May: stormy, icy and with freezing wind. ¬†This time it was open, sunny, warm, and green. ¬†We were with my parents and brother’s family. ¬†After the brief hike we had our picnic dinner and watched the sunset. ¬†As you can see, the sunset and views and colors were just spectacular. ¬†Simple beauty, these old blue rolling mountains.

Then back home, back to the regular work of the week and of the season. ¬†The weather has cooled here ever so slightly, but I’m not sure the hot days are entirely behind us. ¬†I’m enjoying every bit of the cool weather that I can, however. ¬†Recently, I finished knitting a hansel hap with a kit of yarn Brandon and the kids gifted me for Mother’s Day last year. ¬†The yarn was Little Meadows yarn from Ginny Sheller + extra special and squishy. ¬†It was a relatively quick knit and so, so enjoyable. ¬†I modified the pattern just a bit, adding an extra repeat or so to make it bigger. ¬†I thought it may cause me to run out of yarn but I had plenty, and I’m so glad I did it as the size is perfect. ¬†I’ve already been reaching often for it on these early cool nearly-fall days.

Most days are just ordinary, mundane and full of the work that must be done. ¬†Then there are days where you escape to the mountain tops, picnic and spend time gathered with family. ¬†There are days when you harvest armfuls of zinnias and marvel that you grew these and then you trim them down to brighten up your September table. ¬†There are days you finish knitting a beautiful shawl with a bit of yarn you hoarded for as long as you could stand it. ¬†One foggy September morning you can finally wrap up in that cheerful woolly shawl. ¬†All so unexpected sometimes, the glory and the hardship, the peaks and the valleys, though they shouldn’t be. ¬†I’m grateful for the way the beautiful moments carry us through and feed our souls in a way, bright spots for bleaker days.

A Shawl for Adoption

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UPDATE:  Congratulations to Ginny Foreman for winning the raffle!

Well over a year ago now, my brother Peter and his wife AllieMarie announced that they would be adopting a child to grow their family. ¬†We have been so excited to support them in the journey however we can! ¬†Immediately the idea came to mind to knit an item to donate. ¬†Knitting for someone is one way I pour love out on that person. ¬†It was really special to knit on this shawl and be mindful + prayerful the whole time of this baby that is being prepared for my brother’s family and for us all to love on. ¬†It was also special to knit on it and wonder who will be wrapped in the warmth of this gift. ¬†I hope many of you are excited for the opportunity to donate toward Peter + AllieMarie’s adoption and also possibly win a beautiful shawl!

Most people know it is a challenging and lengthy process to adopt, and cost is so prohibitive for many. ¬†However, Peter and AllieMarie’s plans have been interrupted by various hardships including the pandemic which has also caused a strain on their employment. ¬†The setbacks are discouraging and frustrating, and I would love to encourage them in this season with a reminder that there is a community of folks standing alongside them and behind them, cheering them on. ¬†You can read more about their heart for adoption on their GoFundMe page.

Now, let’s talk about the prize! ¬†This shawl is knit in one of my favorite yarns to work with. ¬†It is a special blend of merino wool, llama, silk and linen. ¬†The shawl is very soft and lightweight, and all the eyelets of the shawl make it breathable and light also, as well as lend an elegance to the piece. ¬†I have knitted this shawl once before for myself and it is a good layer for the in-between seasons of spring and shawl when a light accessory is needed. ¬†I like to wear mine draped over my shoulders in the mornings and evenings often to warm against the chill of the day, or wear it wrapped around my neck as a scarf when going out. ¬† The color of this yarn is called “lady slipper” and I think the soft mauve brown is one of my favorite colors lately. ¬†It is very wearable in my opinion and pairs well with many things!

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As for cost, I spent about $30 on the yarn alone and many hours knitting the shawl.  It is quite difficult to price a hand knitted item because the cost of good materials plus all the time involved knitting is hard to place a value on.  All of that to say, your donation will be well worth the cost of the item!

So here’s how you can enter for a chance to win the shawl:

  1. ¬†Donate at least $10 to Peter + AllieMarie’s GoFundMe. ¬†Make your donation HERE. ¬†Every $10 donated will be worth one entry toward winning the shawl. ¬†Once you donate you will be emailed with a receipt. ¬†Hang onto that email, ¬†because if you win I will need you to email that receipt to me as verification of your donation.
  2. Come back to the this page to¬†use the Rafflecopter link below,¬†enter the amount you donated to enter the raffle for the shawl. ¬†First you login with either your email address or your Facebook profile.¬† The options within the widget after you login are Donate $10 for one chance, Donate $20 for two chances, Donate $30 for three chances, Donate $40 for four chances, and Donate $50 for five chances.¬† You can select a combination of entry options if you need to.¬† So for instance if you were to donate $60, you would choose the ‚ÄúDonate $10‚ÄĚ option along with the ‚ÄúDonate $50‚ÄĚ option.¬† Each option can only be selected once per day, so if you donate more than the total options available ($150 per day), you will need to come back the following day(s) and select the options necessary to add up to your total donation. ¬†If you have any issues or questions please email me at marthahkimball(at)gmail(dot)com.

**Because of the current pandemic and subsequent strain on the postal service, the raffle is open to US + Canada only.

ACCESS THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY PAGE HERE.

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Please feel free to share this post to spread the word so we can raise as much as we can for the adoption. ¬†Also, feel free to visit Peter and AllieMarie’s adoption instagram account as well as their¬†GoFundMe.

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Good luck and thank you so much! ¬†I’m so excited to send this shawl off to one of you lovely folks soon!

xo
Martha

pumpkins in august

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Well, hello there! ¬†It has been at least two weeks that I’ve been trying to publish this post! ¬†Its not for lack of trying, but there just hasn’t been a spare moment. ¬†It has been a few weeks ago now that we harvested our pumpkins. ¬†I haven’t grown them before so I don’t know if we planted them too soon, planting them way back in April when we planted everything else. ¬†However, the pumpkins seemed ready, the vine had completely taken over that corner of our back yard and I was ready to pull it out and clean up the garden a bit. ¬†Philippa had requested planting pumpkins in the kids little garden box and she tended them carefully over the summer. ¬†She was delighted to harvest them. ¬†As it turns out, she grew exactly six healthy pumpkins, one for each of us. ¬†It really still amazes me the volume of life, plant matter, and abundance that came from one little pumpkin seed. ¬†A little bit of investment, a whole lot of yield. ¬†It’s God’s way. ¬†We may not always see it this side of heaven, but I believe it is His way, and why He asks us to faithfully steward what He gives.

So there are pumpkins in August lined up on our porch and I don’t know what to do with them yet being it is only just barely beginning to feel like autumn. ¬†The sun and humidity still blaze hot. ¬†I guess it really is possible for me to decorate with pumpkins too early. ¬†Now I know. ūüôā ¬†But we are trying to enjoy them just the same, and the kids are hoping they last until carving time in October. ¬†Doubtful, I know.

Last week we began our fifth year of homeschooling. ¬†What a marvel. ¬†I never imagined myself doing this, investing my life in this way, yet here I am. ¬†I really do love it so much. That is not to say that it doesn’t exhaust me entirely, keep me up at nights with anxiety, questions, uncertainty, or that I don’t fail terribly at it many days. ¬†It does do all of those things and I do fail at it terribly and often wonder if it just too large for me. ¬†Maybe one day it will be, and it will be time to shift into something else. ¬†Yet the reality is, it is truly too large for me and it requires dependence on the Lord and a whole lot of grace and sanctification. ¬†I resist that. ¬†I imagine that if it is God’s will for us than maybe it should feel easier or more natural than it does. ¬†Yet I’ve learned that God equips whom He calls, and not the other way around. ¬†I’ve learned that that equipping sometimes comes slow and daily, humbling me more than I’d like.

With each passing year I feel more sure of our approach to homeschooling, I seem to find my way and my confidence a little more. ¬†I am learning what everyone has always said, how valuable the relationship and connection is over simply plowing through material at all costs. ¬†I am learning to laugh and relax more, to set aside a lesson when there are tears of frustration, to make more time for play, wonder, discovery. ¬†I’m seeing the fruits of our labors and it is encouraging! ¬†I really hope it is our best year yet. ¬†Philippa has begun her first year, what a special milestone. ¬†She was overjoyed when some of her new books arrived and she counted down the days until the first day of school last Monday. ¬†She could hardly sleep the night before. ¬†She asks me for extra work every day and she can’t learn to read fast enough. ¬†I hope her zeal never diminishes, what a joy to have an eager student!

I also began weaning Wren this week and it has made me so much more emotional than I anticipated. ¬†I cried late in bed last night, remembering how these last ten+ years of almost constant pregnancy or breastfeeding have been the very sweetest years of my life, the work I knew I would love yet never dreamed I could enjoy as much as I have. ¬†To wean the little one that will probably be my last, to see my children growing out of the baby years and into the big kid years — it is beautiful but also I don’t want to see this season go. ¬†I know so many mothers cannot wait to progress and get beyond these little years, and I can understand. ¬†They have certainly had their challenges and they’ve taken a toll on my body. ¬†Yet they have been so very, very sweet. ¬†And I for one don’t want to let them go.

I was working in the garden the other day and thinking about how we don’t grow food as wisely as we could. ¬†We grow mainly for immediate use, we like to basically have our own little backyard grocery. ¬†We share the overabundance with others, I don’t preserve much of anything, really. ¬†Yet the wisdom in seasons is that one should grow in summer all that they will need in winter. ¬†Spring is for possibility, dreaming, beginning, preparing the soil and the elements for a yield. ¬†The summer time is the time for growing as much as possible for the winter months so that there will be food when the growing season is done. ¬†The winter is for enjoying the fruits of your summer work and resting from the weary toll of all the labor. ¬†The ground is iron, the cold makes most growing impossible. ¬†It is a metaphor for life and every year we are given a reminder in our seasons of what the trajectory of our life will be. ¬†Our youngest years, the preparing of the soil, the planting of the seeds. ¬†Our summer years — our middle years — are hopefully our most productive, our time to yield as much as possible and store up for the winter of our life. ¬†Winter will surely come, when our strength and resources wane. ¬†And these children are so precious, and I just want to give them everything I can, you know? ¬†All the summer yield to build them up, spur them out, shoot them out into the world to do mighty things. ¬†It’s all I want with my life, to be their biggest champion and advocate on this planet.

So the seasons shift again, ever so slightly. ¬†We ease slowly back into our structures, the anchors for our days rocking us back in their steady rhythm. ¬†We welcome pumpkins earlier than we’d like, we return to our homeschool co-op and savor gathering with friends to learn again, for however long we can. ¬†I end my days bone tired with a to-do list longer than I can ever conquer, work always brimming up and over, spilling into tomorrow. ¬†Such good, weary, long, hard, beautiful days.

Welcome with me our newest little 4th grader, 2nd grader, Kindergartener, and littlest mischief-maker sidekick.  If you have children in your life who are in the school years, I pray a special blessing over them right now.  May we do our best for our children this year and every year.

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yarn along

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Just popping in here briefly to share the progress on my hansel hap shawl! ¬†I flew through the colorful portion and am now working on the edging. ¬†It is much slower going but I have so, so loved working on this project! ¬†I don’t want to rush it but I also can already imagine wrapping up in it often as the weather cools. ¬†Oh, to think of that–the weather cooling. ¬†We’ve reached that time of year and heat when I can hardly imagine the need for bundling up and waking up to a chilly house and the need to light the fire.

I should mention the yarn was a kit for this shawl which Brandon gifted me for Mother’s Day 2019, purchased from Ginny’s etsy shop. ¬†Ginny’s yarn is something special! ¬†I was worried I would run out but even though I modified the pattern to extend the size, I still have had enough yarn so far.

Still reading Home, enjoying it a bit more as I get deeper into it.

Joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.