December hush and December busy

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The tree was cut, a wreath was made, decorations slowly placed around the home.  Room was made for Christmas decorations, room made in our hearts, too, for meditating on the Christ-child, the Savior born to us.  There was early morning tree decorating before daddy left for work, because the children just couldn’t go another day without decorating the tree.  There were out-of-town grandparents who came to take Philippa to ride the Polar Express train, and to bring birthday/Christmas gifts for the grandchildren.  (Their grandma crocheted them each a special blanket with their favorite colors and special embellishments for each child like horses, phoebe flowers, dragons, and sail boats.)  We visited the local historic train museum with the grandparents as well and the children were fascinated with the huge train tables.  There were many practices for the Christmas pageant, then two performances, as well as choir practice and then a Christmas concert.  Then we finished up our last day of school, and this week our last round of piano practice and tutoring for Phoebe for the rest of the year.  I’m finishing the last rounds of shopping and preparing for birthdays and Christmas.  Only a few more days now until Christmas is upon us.  I’m thankful for the busy bursts of activity and the beautiful gatherings, feasting, and celebrating.  I’m thankful, too, for the quiet end of it all, the unhurried mornings staying late in our pajamas, with creative messes all around and extra cups of coffee.  I’m thankful for the daily advent readings, the singing of all the Christmas songs, the holy ache for the Savior to return and the ceaseless marveling that He came to us in the first place.  I can’t believe how quickly this month flies by now, when as a child I remember it dragging on so long.  I miss those childish days where the world was bright and new, full of wonder.  May we all recapture a bit of that this season and enjoy a restful and worshipful remainder of 2019.  Noah’s birthday is on Friday and then the holy-days are upon us soon after.  I’ll pop in here before year’s end I hope.  Sending warm wishes and love to each of you!

yarn along

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I’m working away on Phoebe’s sweater, knitting both sleeves now.  In the meantime, I am hoping to give each of the children a small knitted something for Christmas.  I finished some socks for Philippa, and I’ve cast on this beautiful slipped stitch tam for Phoebe.  She has asked for a hat like this for some time so I think she will love it, and it’s a quick mindless knit to work on when I don’t have the energy for colorwork sleeves.

I made it about half way through Ellie and Harp Maker and had to put it down.  It’s a nice enough book and an easy read, but it glorifies an extramarital affair and to me, there’s nothing glorious about that.  My heart has been broken more than once by infidelity and sexual sin in the lives of loved ones and the reality is that infidelity isn’t romantic, it destroys hearts and families.  I have no interest in reading about it, or people’s various attempts to justify it.

The children and I have been making our way through Hallelujah in the mornings and the older two really enjoy listening to Handel’s Messiah in little chunks each day as we go.  Are you enjoying an advent read this season?

arbor vitae

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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

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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

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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

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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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re-membered

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!)