hello, September

DSC_0034 (1)DSC_0026DSC_0028DSC_0002 (1)DSC_0009 (2)DSC_0011 (2)DSC_0013 (2)DSC_0015DSC_0016 (1)DSC_0021DSC_0023 (1)DSC_0025 (1)DSC_0026 (1)DSC_0030 (1)DSC_0035DSC_0038 (1)DSC_0040DSC_0042DSC_0045 (1)DSC_0047DSC_0051DSC_0052DSC_0055DSC_0056 (1)DSC_0061 (1)DSC_0063DSC_0064

The weather has cooled ever so slightly, mornings are darker when the alarm goes off at six am. ¬†I’m feeling more and more back to myself, like this old soul is waking back up after being in a weird pregnancy slump for months. ¬†September in North Carolina can still be as hot as August some years, and I know we may still see some hot days before October. ¬†Even still, I’m celebrating every little hint of cooler days and the happy change that comes over these hills at this time of year. ¬†When I was my sickest with this pregnancy, many hours and hours of many days all I could do was lay down. ¬†I couldn’t read, watch anything, knit, scroll through social media. ¬†There was just no distraction that didn’t make me nauseous. ¬†I didn’t realize how tightly wound up I was until I was forced to just SIT a whole lot and do nothing and be with my thoughts (depressed and grumpy as they were). ¬†I could listen to worship music and that would help set my sights beyond my condition (which is really a very blessed condition indeed!) ¬†Having a few months of this has slowed me down in a way I didn’t know I was needing. ¬†I’ve slept more hours in a night because I’m not staying up till the wee hours knitting and reading. ¬†The anxious needing-to-always-have-something-to-busy-my-mind-with feeling has ebbed. ¬†I’m noticing quieter things, enjoying small moments of grace that I might otherwise rush past. ¬†It’s been hard and not something I would have volunteered for (to be sick) but the forced quieting of my soul has been a gift. ¬†God is always faithful, even when we don’t love His process.

I’ve felt bad for the children while I’ve been basically out of commission, but they have found lots of entertainment in our pretty simple bare yard. ūüôā ¬†Boredom is so often the impetus for creativity! ¬†They’ve been busy climbing trees, scavenging in the garden for neglected vegetables that have grown far too big, and playing in the hammock. ¬†I hear one of them yell, “hey guys, let’s go outside and fall out of the hammock!” and the rest yell, “yeaaahhh!” ¬†That’s their game, to get in altogether and whoever is at the front catapults themselves over the edge and then they get in the back of the train again.

We checked out a book from the library called Wiggle and Waggle about two worm friends, and Phoebe has been worm hunting ever since. ¬†She’s claimed a few worms for pets, checks on them constantly, kills a few and then finds a few more. ¬†It grosses me out but I don’t want her to know that, it’s probably good she doesn’t mind getting her hands in the dirt even if bugs make me squeamish.

It’s probably early to have mums and pumpkins on the porch, but I needed something bright and cheery and a local friend of ours was giving away free pumpkins, so we loaded up on them. ¬†Hopefully they last through November, but they make me happy every time I see them, so they will have brought plenty of joy, no matter how long they last.

And a couple of evenings ago I made one of my most favorite soups (recipe here, but I omit the olives and sub black beans, and also omit the quinoa because it makes me really sick. ¬†Sometimes I add wild rice instead, sometimes I just leave it grain free and it’s just as delicious. ¬†I also add handfuls of spinach at the end, too). ¬†It’s one of my favorite meals, along with those super easy grain-free rolls which everyone in our house goes nuts over. ¬†We lit candles for the first time in a long time and the kids knew momma must be feeling better.

There are pumpkins and candles and soups and cold mornings and warm slippers and leaves falling in the grass and children playing late outside and bent over school books, and all is right with the world again.  I had a checkup this morning and took the kids along and we got to see baby.  Hopefully that makes it more real for them.  Little one looked like he/she was sucking his/her thumb, and kept crossing his/her little legs so he/she looked pretty cozy in there, too.

yarn along

DSC_0045

Hello everyone! ¬†I hope some of my readers are still around and have hung in there with me while I’ve been absent. ¬†I hope to slowly get back into my usual blogging swing. ¬†I have missed it!

I haven’t felt at all like doing anything creative since mid-June, so all my knitting projects have been put away for a time. ¬†I’m just beginning to be able to look at patterns and yarn again and feel the tiniest nudge toward the creative bug, so I’m hoping my “making” juices start flowing again soon. ¬†I have missed feeling like myself! ¬†Apparently the children have missed it, too. ¬†Noah told me the other day he misses when I used to knit, and all three children piled their birthday knitting requests on me. ¬†(Sweaters! ¬†Mittens! ¬†Socks!)

The weather has shifted ever so slightly in our area, cooler mornings and evenings and days. ¬†The song of fall is whispering on the wind and I can hear it better this year than ever before because all through my sick and depressed days of pregnancy, I knew fall would be the time when I would get back on my feet again. ¬†Fall is my favorite season because it is so beautiful and glorious in every way in the mountains of NC, but the best part is anticipating winter! ¬†I’m a winter girl through and through. ¬†I love bundling up, I love fires and steaming mugs, cozy slippers, red cheeks and noses, snow and even the barren landscapes. ¬†I’m looking forward to it more than ever this year!

After a long hiatus in my project bag, I’ve picked up my Winterwoods ABC Cross-stitch sampler¬†in anticipation of the coming fall season. ¬†Sometimes I only have the energy to stitch a few little x’s before I set it down, but I’m reinvigorated to finish and frame it. ¬†We were hustled moving into our home, and had a few house projects to do after we moved in before we could begin settling things in their places, and then this surprise pregnancy stopped me right in my home-organizing tracks. ¬†I’m beginning to feel up to the task of settling into this home and making it ours, and this little sampler brings me such joy every time I see it. ¬†Truly cannot wait to find a spot for it! ¬†I originally stitched it intending it for Philippa’s room, but we’ll see. ¬†It’s the second ABC sampler I’ve done from Alicia Paulson and everything she designs is so lovely.

I have been reading just a little on my own, but not as much as usual. ¬†Phoebe and I have been reading this beautifully illustrated version of The Secret Garden¬†from our library. ¬†We’re both really enjoying it, but for some reason I am aching to read E. B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan¬†to her in the fall season. ¬†I haven’t read it since I was a child but it has been calling to me, so I’m eager to get through the Secret Garden this month for sure.

Linking up with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
Affiliate links included in this post.

 

where I’ve been…

DSC_0005 (1)DSC_0013 (1)DSC_0018 (1)

Surprise! ¬†God has surprised and delighted us with another baby on the way! ¬†I’m always very sick for the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, so if you’ve wondered where I’ve been, this should explain it. ¬†No coffee, no knitting, no reading, no photography, just lots of laying around riding the waves of nausea. ¬†I’m thankful to my family and especially to Brandon for carrying the load while I’ve been MIA. ¬†I’m not feeling better quite yet so I may still be quiet for awhile, but we wanted to share our news with you. ¬†Baby is due Feb 2018!

I’ll Push You

DSC_0045

Hello long-lost blog! ¬†It’s been a bit of a weird summer, and I’ll share more about it soon, but there’s been good reason why my blog has sat unattended for a couple of months. ¬†I’m terribly far behind on book reviews, so I hope to catch up on those soon.

This book caught my eye as I’ve been wanting to read more fiction/stories over the summer. ¬†I watched the trailer for the documentary that is coming out and found myself in tears.

I’ll Push You (affiliate link)¬†is the true story of two friends, Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck, who grew up together and have stayed close through college and marriage and the early years of parenting. ¬†Justin began to have nerve problems in his feet during high school, progressively losing mobility and control in his feet and legs. ¬†For years doctors did tests and studies but were unable to give him a clear diagnosis. ¬†The autoimmune neuromuscular disease acted much like ALS but wasn’t ALS. ¬†As his disease progressed, Justin began to have less and less mobility and the Gray family decided to move closer to the Skeesucks to help and do life more together. ¬†Patrick and Justin had enjoyed many adventures together over their years of friendship, so it was’t much of a surprise when Justin approached Patrick and told him he really wished he could do the Camino de Santiago in Spain. ¬†The Camino de Santiago is a 500-mile trek through the mountains and rough terrain of Spain, usually done as a spiritual pilgrimage. ¬†As soon as Justin mentioned the idea to Patrick, Patrick’s response was, “I’ll push you.”

The book chronicles their adventure, how the pieces came together, how their journey went, and all the amazing things they learned and grew in as they went. ¬†They also share much of their story, the history of their friendship, and their faith in God in the book. ¬†I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was maybe most impacted by the intensity, depth, and sweetness of their friendship. ¬†Their friendship is something special and rare, and it makes me wonder if I would love my friends so sacrificially. ¬†It makes me want to be a better friend! ¬†I was also struck and blessed by Justin’s attitude toward his weakness and dependency. ¬†He is peaceful and surrendered, even as his body slowly succumbs to his disease, and in my own season of weakness and dependency, it has been challenging and helpful to see his example. ¬†I’m eager to see the documentary when it releases!

I highly recommend this sweet story.

Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for their complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

yarn along

DSC_0038.jpg

I finished Mere Motherhood a few days ago and just so so enjoyed it. ¬†I highly recommend it for any mom who is at least a year or so into homeschooling. ¬†I think if I had read it before homeschooling I might not have quite commiserated with the author or found it so humorous. ¬†Maybe it would have freaked me out. ¬†I rarely laugh out loud at a book, but I was stifling fits of laughter in bed when reading this one on multiple occasions. ¬†The author has 9 children, 8 boys and 1 girl, and she chronicles her homeschooling journey from the very beginning up to present. ¬†I resonated with so much of what she shared, her struggle to find her philosophy of education, her parenting and housekeeping woes in the midst of schooling and pregnancy and new babies and life’s constant change. ¬†It was truly a joy to read, a help in so many ways encouraging me toward the things that truly matter as a mother and homeschooler. ¬†Reading the final chapters where she shares about the teen years reminded to me to really enjoy and engage in this present seasons with little ones! ¬†I found her book to be gritty, honest, humorous, helpful, and I couldn’t put it down. ¬†Will definitely be reading it again and passing it on to some friends!

I found A Charlotte Mason Companion at a recent local homeschooler’s curriculum sale and was so ecstatic. ¬†It was on my summer reading list and finding it for $6 was a steal! ¬†I’m even more eager to read it after reading Mere Motherhood and find myself continually drawn to and resonating with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy.

I’m on the last four rows of the Antarktis shawl for my mom. ¬†Actually I technically finished the pattern a few days ago but I continued to add repeats of the garter and lace sections because I have so much yarn leftover! ¬†I’m sure it will grow quite a bit once I block it and be a good size, which I hope is what my mom is looking for. ¬†I can’t believe how quickly this knit up and I’m excited to gift it! ¬†The yarn has been so very lovely to work with and I want to knit with all of Fibre Co.’s yarn!

What are you reading and making this week?

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
Affiliate links included.

on birthdays and finding joy

DSC_0036DSC_0037DSC_0002 (1)DSC_0007DSC_0012DSC_0013DSC_0015DSC_0024DSC_0033DSC_0028DSC_0037 (1)DSC_0040DSC_0041DSC_0042DSC_0044

My birthday last week was a fairly ordinary “workday” for me, and also not the easiest day with the children. ¬†I found myself scrubbing toilets and floors, folding laundry, settling sibling disputes, feeding hungry mouths–all the usual work that fills my days up to the brim. ¬†Of course there is a part of me that wants to just rest and be free from all work for a day (unrealistic), but then I also don’t mind taking care of these little ones that I love so much and this home that keeps us all together. ¬†I share my birthday with my mom, so my gift to her this year was to buy a few skeins of yarn for her to choose from so that I could knit her a shawl. ¬†She picked the color I had had on my mind for her, a rustic-y soft light red called Bergamot, and helped pick out a shawl pattern. ¬†I wanted to wind up her yarn on our birthday and cast on. ¬†I realized as I began knitting it that I was knitting this exact pattern just about this time last year on a road trip to upstate New York with Brandon’s family as a commissioned shawl for a friend. ¬†How funny and coincidental to be knitting it again at the same time a year later. ¬†It’s such an enjoyable pattern–all knitting and yarn overs and no purling!

I had planned on making a yummy dinner for my birthday since Brandon would be working a normal work-day and since we never really eat out with Phoebe and her dietary needs. ¬†I wanted to make Against the Grain’s Pesto Prosciutto Chicken with a GF pasta on the side, and creme br√Ľl√©e for dessert, which is my favorite. ¬†The dinner took longer than I expected and once I got it in the oven, the kids and I and Brandon decided to go for a walk while it baked. ¬†It had been raining and we had felt a bit cooped up. ¬†The kids splashed in all sorts of muddy puddles so B bathed them quickly when we got home while I finished up dinner and it was late and nerves were a bit raw by this time. ¬†My dinner didn’t look at all like the lovely cookbook’s pictures, which is always annoying, but it was still delicious. ¬†I had made a creme br√Ľl√©e earlier in the afternoon and infused it with culinary lavender because I love love love lavender especially in desserts.

We lit candles and I turned on french music because somehow everything felt like a french sort of dinner, and we ate at nearly 8pm. ¬†I had some cards to open, and then B put the finishing touches on the creme br√Ľl√©e, the kids sang happy birthday to me which was the best part. ¬†The fuzzy photo of me with phoebe is the only such picture I snagged on this day, but its worth including since this is me, turning 33.

I had received word in the afternoon that Brandon’s grandfather had died. ¬†He had been in the hospital after some falls and other health issues so we knew it was coming, but it still felt so soon. ¬†Sadly we weren’t very close with him, but it’s still surreal and strange to consider death on your birthday. ¬†Probably quite healthy. ¬†Really that’s what we’re all marking–here’s another year, gone. ¬†Another year comes–bringing me closer to my own end. ¬†Time is passing, time is coming. ¬†Let’s stop and celebrate and remember and pay attention.

We quickly got the kids to bed, then got cozy for a movie of my pick. ¬†We watched “Florence Foster Jenkins” which was so interesting and funny and also a little sad (based on a true story). ¬†I cried and cried at the end. ¬†I don’t want to spoil the movie for those of you who may want to see it, but I will say I commiserated with the protagonist (Meryl Streep). ¬†She loved music and in her mind she had a beautiful singing voice, but in reality her voice was terrible. ¬†She pursues singing and her husband tries desperately to protect her from the truth of her real performance. ¬†It makes you wonder: Is this reality that we know of ourselves the reality others know of us? ¬†Aren’t so many of us afraid that maybe everyone is really laughing at us and about us behind our backs? ¬†What if we are really quite terrible at the things we think we’re good at, at the things we most love?

I’m sure it was the combination of watching that movie, it being my birthday, and also processing the news of Brandon’s grandpa’s death. ¬†It made me think and wrestle a bit with life, with the things I love and spend time on, with my role as a stay-at-home mother. ¬†I sometimes wrestle with this blog. ¬†I don’t know why, it seems so silly in the light of day. ¬†I love sharing our little life here. ¬†It helps me keep track of things, our lives little record for now. ¬†I’m not sure if I’ll do it forever. ¬†It’s important to reevaluate frequently what I give myself to. ¬†I enjoy taking pictures and capturing these fleeting moments. ¬†I’m thankful to have a space to write and share with you whatever God seems to lay on my heart. ¬†I’m not trying to “make it big” or be somebody, I’m not making an income doing this. ¬†I don’t mind it being mostly small and personal and shared with those few who happen to find this place on the internet and with whomever it resonates. ¬†I leave it to God to use it as He chooses. ¬†But then sometimes I doubt myself. ¬†Are my motives wrong, self-serving? ¬†Is this a huge waste of time and a distraction? ¬†Is it too personal to share our family life so openly in such a dangerous and dark world? ¬†My blogging has brought occasional criticism, but mostly I feel it from my own inner critic. ¬†Brandon is relentless in support of it, which is always so odd to me because he is so anti social-media-anything. ¬†Anyway, for whatever reason this is where my mind went after watching that movie. ¬†Wrestling with the silliness of my spending time photographing, knitting, writing words, creating. ¬†Who has time for all of this when you have little ones and when the world is full of pain and need? ¬†Am I spending my life on what really matters? ¬†Are my little endeavors to bring beauty and joy and even occasionally to write words–are these small endeavors mattering?

I crawled into bed and picked up my book and opened to these words. ¬†(The author was sharing about finding a little resale boutique in her neighborhood, a beautiful little gem and yet she went in and found herself to be the only customer. ¬†She imagined being the store owner, the way the woman had attractively laid out her wares, rearranging and bravely taking a risk to run this little business that wasn’t really garnering that much attention. ¬†She wondered if the woman got discouraged on the days when there was no business. ¬†What makes her think things will work out? ¬†Why does she return to it day after day?):

“She returns to what she loves to do, because she loves it and she can’t not do it. ¬†She goes back to the joy of pursuing her passion. ¬†Because its not likely that anyone is coming in and exclaiming, ‘I’m so glad you’re here! ¬†I’ve been waiting for you to sell secondhand clothes in this space all of my life!’ ¬†It’s not likely that anyone is affirming her passion or holding her hand through those moments of sheer panic. ¬†I’m also pretty certain people aren’t stampeding to her door to say thank you or to make spirit tunnels for her to run through at the end of the day after she’s vacuumed the floor and locked up for the thousandth time.

This is what I’m getting at: joy isn’t in the response of others based on what we do. ¬†Joy is in doing what God created us to do and has given us to do. ¬†Joy is in pursuing with faith and abandon the passions God has laid in our hearts, and doing them in his honor. ¬†We serve for the smile on his face.

And joy begets joy. ¬†When we serve God with joy, we in a round-about way encourage others to serve God with joy. ¬†Artists appreciate another’s art, joy is derived from another’s joy, and passion feeds off and grows from another’s passion.

So whatever you’re doing–homeschooling, event planning, cake baking, medical research, substitute teaching, diaper changing, coaching, putting words out into the world, or yes, running a small boutique–do it with joy as unto the Lord. ¬†Don’t look for appreciation from others or a spirit tunnel at the end of the day as an indicator of whether or not you’re on the right track. ¬†Look to God, who created you to be a creator that flings tangerine passion and joy into the world. ¬†He is smiling as you do what you do for him.

There is no mold, no one right way of showing Jesus, for where the Spirit is, there is freedom. ¬†He has made us each different, combining us all to make a collage, a collage that when you step back and look you suddenly see: it’s Jesus!

Different mediums.
Different brushes.
Different strokes for reaching different folks.
You there, with your unique talents, passions, and gifts.
Go in freedom.
Tell them about Jesus with your life.
Do it with grace and tangerine joy.”

-Christine Hoover, From Good to Grace

Isn’t that so sweet of God, to speak right to what I was struggling with at the long end of the day? ¬†He affirmed me, affirmed His love for me, affirmed my freedom in Him, affirmed His smile over me. ¬†What more could you ask for on a birthday? ¬†I hope you are encouraged, too, dear reader. ¬†Whatever you do, do it for Him, do it as unto Him, do it with joy and gusto and don’t worry about the response or affirmation or notice of others. ¬† Take risks. ¬†Live boldly. ¬†Be brave. ¬†Be a pioneer. ¬†Follow where He leads. ¬†When we get our eyes off of Him we get into all sorts of trouble, don’t we? ¬†It’s His good-pleasure over us that we’re after, it’s His approval alone that matters.

At the end of the Florence Foster Jenkins movie, after criticism about her singing voice, Florence on her deathbed said: ¬†“They can say I can’t sing, but no one can say I didn’t sing.”

So, sing, friend.  You go on singing, and I will too.  His ear is tuned to hear our voice.

 

 

 

yarn along

DSC_0146.jpg

I cast on the Antarktis shawl for my mom in Fibre Co. yarn meadow, color way Bergamot. Ive wanted to knit with this yarn since seeing Ginny Sheller’s shawl last year, and my mom happened to pick the same pattern, so that is fun! ¬†It’s my second time knitting this pattern and its fun to see how much I’ve grown in my knitting since the last year. ¬†I’m really enjoying this knit and the yarn is just perfection. ¬†Super soft and airy, yet rustic.

I finished From Good to Grace last week and loved it to the very end. ¬†Its one of those that feels like it was written just for me. ¬†This one, Mere Motherhood, is deeply engrossing. ¬†I have a hard time putting it down when I do find a few minutes to read before bed. ¬†She’s a bit rougher around the edges than I expected, and I’m curious to see where the book goes. ¬†I love memoirs. ¬†The kids and I have done something similar to her “morning time” in the past and I’m curious to implement something a bit more in-depth this next school year.

What are you reading or making lately?

Joining up with Nicole of Frontier Dreams’ weekly Crafting On.
Affiliate links included.