I’ve finished up a few projects lately, and cast on a couple, too. I’ve had the yarn to knit a Ginny sweater for awhile and since I am almost done with my morchella cardigan, it seemed good to cast on another garment. Everything is done on my morchella except sewing on the button band, which I’ve been putting off. I do intend to get done in the next couple of days. It has been really lovely to work with the nightshades yarn, I love the blue-black color and it is very soft and squishy.
I didn’t mean to be away from this space for so long. I have continually struggled to find time and energy to post lately. I hope you can bear with me as I try to catch up on sharing a little of our Christmas day with you. The best surprise of Christmas was waking up to snow! If memory serves me well, the last white Christmas we had was when we brought Phoebe home from the hospital 10 years ago. Our Christmas morning was sweet and always a little chaotic too, as children try to contain their excitement. As I looked back over these photos, it made me smile seeing how they enjoyed one another. We bought a book for each child and one toy item, as well as stocking stuffers. We focused a bit more on family gifts this year, gifting them all a slackline kit, a special bird feeder that hopefully brings the birds a bit closer to our view, a rubbery road set to add to our trains/blocks collection, and a couple of puzzles. Everything was well loved. I gave Brandon a drone, and he gifted me a sweater’s quantity of the loveliest rusty red yarn to knit a sweater I’ve had my eye on. It was a treat to have some time to knit Christmas afternoon after all the children trotted off to add their toys to their rooms or take them outside to play.
The Christmas season seemed to fly by even more so this year, a year where it seemed everyone wanted to hold onto it as long as possible. We still have a few fairy lights and bottle brush trees around our house to brighten the bleakness of winter. We have much to be grateful for even despite the tumultuous year behind us.
Christmas season came and went in such a hurry it seems. I still have photos to share about our holiday season, but am finding it hard to make time to get on here and do so. I received a sweater’s quantity of peace fleece DK in the color way “sheplova mushroom” to knit a morchella cardigan. I watched for it on Christmas day and cast on sometime around then. I want this cardigan in my wardrobe so badly, and thought it would be more of a product knit versus a process knit, anticipating it would knit slowly and be a bit tedious. However I have been so, so enjoying the process of knitting this sweater. I can’t quite explain it. It’s just the only thing I want to work on and there’s something deeply comforting in returning to it at the beginnings of endings of my days. It’s familiar, easy, and such a long bit of knitting, yet the excitement to have the finished piece moves me continually forward. These are strange times we find ourselves in, and I must say I have been battling a lot of discouragement. Life for me lately is pared back down to the basics and my words feel few and also terribly small and unimportant, especially in the wider world of the internet. Maybe it’s a bit of an existential crisis. From what I gather, I think many of us are struggling a bit right now. I am finding grounding in the scriptures, in quiet spaces, in observing nature around me and spending time in it, in my knitting, in the company of trusted friends and loved ones.
I’m slowly making my way through Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark. I am mostly enjoying it, and am curious to see where the story goes, but I feel like I’m reading it very slowly. Have you read it? If so, what did you think? Some fiction has definitely been a welcome reprieve in the evening before bed.
How are you? Are you reading good books, making things with your hands?
Sending love to you today, friends, and trusting that the Light can overcome the darkness any one of us may be facing.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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. ❤
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.
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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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!
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 . ❤
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.