a bunny turns 2

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Little wren-wren,

It’s hard to believe you are two.

Up early before the sun, with everyone rushing you to wake.  You are at the happy stage where you sort of understand birthdays after celebrating all of your siblings birthdays in the last few months, and yet you are easy and happy-go-lucky without any expectations.  Except that you definitely wanted us to sing happy birthday to you. 🙂   You were practicing for days ahead of time.

Everyone else couldn’t wait for you to open your gifts so they could play with them see what they were.  It is a joy to watch you so carefully open each thing and enjoy it for a few minutes without rushing onto the next gift.

We gave you a Poppy and the Orchestra book since you have loved Philippa’s Poppy/musical book so much.  You were delighted!  Bunny also wanted to give you a gift that had a bit of an ulterior motive: she bought you a basket for your bike so that you can carry her along on all of your adventures.  Boy, have you both loved this new addition to your favorite toy.

Mommy + Daddy gifted you a kitchen all your own with a few new food items, pots and pans, and a lovely little enamel pot that matches your older sister’s tin tea set.  I think you really love this, but your older siblings definitely do.  Thank you for sharing it so kindly with them.  Mommy knit you a happy yellow sweater, but it is much too big and so we will tuck it away until you are three.  I’m so glad though that when you opened it you put it right on.  Sweet girl.  Now mommy has to get busy making you something that WILL fit. 🙂  Also, you got a sweet birthday dress which you really love and looks so, so sweet on you.

After all the morning fun, we carried on with a regular old school day for the older kids (which they were quite disgruntled about) but we had a surprise visitor mid-morning, your BFF Liam (and Rainey).

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He brought you a sweet gift and stayed for a little bit to play and have a birthday lunch together.  So sweet.  Bunny was very tired at this point and had to have a nap, so you went with her.  After nap, the sun came out (it had been a very rainy morning) and bunny couldn’t wait to try out her new bike basket.  What fun!  It was just right.  Meanwhile, Mommy baked a carrot cake, the same one I made for your first birthday and I had fun making it simple and pretty.  We Facetimed with far-away family.  Then Rainey + Grandpa came over for one of your favorite dinners, spaghetti.  You were so happy to see your birthday cake and have everyone sing to you, and you clapped with glee when it was all done.

We all adore you, sweet baby Wren.  Maybe not so much a baby anymore, but still you will always be our little baby.  I am so proud of the way you are growing and learning.  You are a delight to us all, my sweet girl.  Happy birthday and always remember how much your momma and daddy adore you, how God adores you even more than that.

Love always,

Mommy

 

a february birthday

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Brandon’s birthday fell on a Monday this year, so we planned for him to do some fun things over the weekend to celebrate.  He did a long trail run in nearby Dupont Forest for most of the day on Saturday.  Sunday he took Noah fishing on a nearby river for the day.  I was happy for him to get out and have lots of time doing the things he loves outside.  Monday we had a very full and busy day planned but I woke up that morning to a spinning world.  Every once in a while I have vertigo and it hasn’t happened in a couple of years but it hit me that Monday.  I was so bummed because not only did we have a full day of homeschool co-op and piano lessons, but it was also Brandon’s birthday.  My mom came to help for the day as I couldn’t get out of bed/sit up without everything spinning.  I didn’t think to take dramamine until a little later, and it did seem to help (though my mom picked up a “natural” kind which was just straight ginger root).  Thank goodness for moms, right?!  Anyway, in the early afternoon I managed to pull myself out of bed to try to make Brandon’s cheesecake as I knew it would have to sit for a few hours before serving.  As I began to move around the vertigo slowly lifted.  Usually it lasts for a few hours for me so this was a longer day of it, but I was just grateful it lifted.  It’s amazing what a blessing normal functioning is!

The children were so happy to see me up and able to move around and Phoebe helped to make daddy’s birthday cake.  He loves cherry pie but my kids don’t really like pie and Brandon isn’t really picky, so we made a cheesecake instead with my own cherry topping.  For the topping I basically used a bag of frozen cherries, juice from half a lemon, about a 1/2 c. of honey, 1 c. water, and a couple teaspoons of arrowroot powder as a thickener.  It was really delicious, even Phoebe liked it and she is my pickiest.

Philippa asked to decorate the table for daddy’s birthday which was very helpful as I felt still so brain-foggy.  She did a lovely job.  Brandon was truly surprised to see his hand knit sweater and I think it fits just right (though when I gave it to him I hadn’t had time to block it yet).  The “children” gave him a jigsaw which he was very happy with.  I have in mind an item or two he could make for me now that he has it. 🙂  Noah gave him a little notebook/journal he had kept with notes and drawings in it while they had been out fishing.  Phoebe gave him a little woven item.  All in all, I think he was quite spoiled this birthday which we well-deserves.

We had a little bit more snow this past weekend and so enjoyed it.  I’m grateful for any wintry weather!  I convinced Brandon to let me get a couple pictures of him in the sweater, which did take some convincing since he doesn’t love being in front of the camera.  (He’s also wearing a hat I knit for him awhile ago.)

so this is nine

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Oh, all the big feelings over this girl.  Each of my children’s birthdays are special and emotional in their own ways, but this girl is and always will be the one to do things “first.”  God is so wise in placing her as the firstborn in our family, she has paved the way beautifully for the other children in her kindness, joy, helpfulness, love, and exuberance.  To know Phoebe is to love her, there’s just no argument there.  People tell me all the time that she makes others feel special, and I think that’s just exactly right.  It isn’t hard to celebrate this girl, but for this momma who just wants to slow this whole thing down a wee bit and hang on just a little longer to these sweet days, it comes with a tinge of sadness. Phoebe has grown up so much over the past year and there’s just no stopping this girl.  She can’t wait to be all grown up.

She’s traded in her love for dress-up with a deep abiding love for horses.  It’s her dream to own one, but she’s happy  just to see them.  To touch one or ride one is pretty epic.  She has slowly been collecting Breyer’s horses and plays so sweetly with them.  She has read the entire history of horses curriculum many times over, has memorized her horse handbook, and lately has been enjoying the Horse Diaries series immensely.  We purchased a few of them for her for Christmas, but also got her A Horse for Kate for her birthday, as well as a horse calendar.  She is becoming quite addicted to reading and devours her books in a day or two.  Every week I scour the library for more books on horses for her to read.

Her birthday sweater is called the Ghost Horse sweater and she really loves it, which makes it all worthwhile (it was quite a lot of feverish knitting).  She also got a pair of roller blades and she is so into them.  Anything we can do to keep motivating our children to be outside and moving!

I made creme brûlée for her, and she requested spaghetti for dinner (though she only eats the noodles plain).  Phoebe loves a good party, so we joined with all her local aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents for a celebration.  It was really sweet to celebrate her together with them.  They gave her sweet and meaningful presents too, and she really treasures it all.  She hopes to use some of the gift money she received to take some horseback riding lessons.

Phoebe girl, I adore you with all my heart.  Happy 9th birthday!  Last year to be in the single digits.  Let’s savor it.

 

seven so soon

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My sweet, sweet boy.  In a house full of girls, it can be hard to be the one boy but he handles it so well.  Sometimes he needs some boy time for sure, but he plays well with his sisters.  It has been such a neat year watching him grow and develop and to see more of his personality shine through.  He has come a bit more out of his shell and often surprises me with his strength and bravery.  He loves to move, laugh, wiggle, and play and his energy is truly boundless.  All of my children are active and full of energy, but Noah’s boyishness shines through so often in his dire need for time to just run and jump and play wild outside.  On rainy days, he truly starts climbing walls and bouncing around like a ball.  He is such a delight to teach and flies through his school work, eager to learn and hungry always for more.  It is a true joy to watch, and I so desire to spur him on!  His hunger to learn has made him a voracious reader.  This year he really took off in his mountain biking, flipping on the trampoline, and in fishing.  He lost his first two bottom teeth this year too, and it has so changed his little appearance.  He treasures time alone with daddy and loves to help work in the garage, mow the lawn, and build things.  He loves music and began piano lessons this year, really enjoying learning and having time with his piano teacher.  He loves drawing and coloring.  Lately he’s really gotten into writing letters and he checks the mailbox daily to see if any of his pen-pals have sent him anything.  I see him growing spiritually, too, which blesses me endlessly.  I love to hear him laugh, it truly is the best.

Brandon built him a see-saw for his bike, as they’ve enjoyed some mountain biking together this past year and Noah really loves the sport, especially a see-saw feature at a local mountain biking area.  He actually had been helping Brandon build it over the last few weeks but didn’t know what it was.  It was so neat to see him be so surprised!  He played on it all day, in and out of the house either on the see-saw or riding his new roller blades around the house (I think I got a size too small so we will be exchanging them for a size up, so until then he is only wearing them inside).

We also gifted him his first real bible.  This is so special and he was pretty excited.  He has really excelled in reading this year and when we had family bible reading, it would be nice for him to have his own scripture to become familiar with.

I knit him a sweater of course, but this time he specified the design and the colors.  He really loves my sweaters and wears them constantly at home, which makes it always worthwhile to knit for him.  He had also asked this year for a doll, and Brandon and I felt a little uncertain about it and tried to persuade him otherwise.  But when I saw this waldorf-style doll called a “boy’s big friend” I felt like it would be a good choice for him.  I knit a little sweater for the doll (which he named James) with yarn leftover from Noah’s sweater.  Is it weird for him to have a doll?  I don’t know.  I think he just wants a little buddy to take care of and cart around, and he is a very nurturing boy.  But he also loves cars and trucks, biking and sword play like all boys.  I think it’s sweet that he wants a little someone to take care of and love.

He really developed a love for fishing this year, though we haven’t gotten to take him often.  I was inspired at the last moment to make his cake a little more fun and fancy by adding a few fishing details.  He really loved it.

Happy seventh birthday, my sweet treasured boy.  You are a delight and bring such joy to your parents!

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.

 

wren is one

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Our wren wren.  How can it be?  This year with you has been so sweet.  Also, spicy.  As you grow you are learning to exert yourself, learning what you like and what you don’t.  One thing you became very attached to early on in your life was your bunny, a gift from a family friend.  Nothing comforts you like bunny.  So we thought your first birthday should be a bunny themed day.  We can’t believe you are one and we’ve said so a million times.  You are a joy to us all, everybody’s baby, and you make us all laugh with your silly faces, grumpy eyebrows, bunny love, toddling walk, and excitement for life.  Happy first birthday, sweet little very.

A little bit about her day:

Friends (and my mom) came over the day before her birthday (Saturday) for a cookout, bonfire and play time.  We didn’t make it about her day persay, but we did have carrot cake in her honor and a couple of gifts.  On her birthday, it was just us.  After church I wanted to take photos of our girl in her special birthday dress + crown, just as she is now — walking, exploring, loving being outside, chasing our kitty Rose, and keeping up with her siblings.  It was good that we did because shortly thereafter it began to rain and pour for the rest of the day.  When she woke up from her nap and saw her presents by the fireplace, she picked them up and started right in on them, knowing just what to do.  Each of the children helped her open a gift.  She opened her birthday sweater that I knit for her and she immediately bit it, as she does whenever something is soft and snuggly.  She held onto it and didn’t protest a bit when I put it on her.  It’s so sweet because whenever she saw me working on it she would grab the yarn (and generally she is very into my yarn anyway).  We got her a bunny book and her cousin-twin Silas sent her the sweetest book about a bird named wren which made me tear up to read.  Its perfect.  We also bought her a pair of boiled wool overalls which will be so nice for her to wear on all her adventures outside, with the reinforced knees and bottom.  They are very big on her but they will fit her throughout next winter as well!  My mom bought her her first baby doll (wren can’t say her “b’s” yet so she calls it her “day-dee” instead of baby).  Her big gift from us was a little piano of her very own.  She is obsessed with our piano but can’t reach it or play it unless someone helps her up and then sits and makes sure she doesn’t fall off the bench, so this little piano is just her size.  She has loved it so much, which is always a delight.

For her cake, I made a vegan + gluten free carrot cake which was literally maybe the best carrot cake I’ve ever had, and I topped it with new little bunnies in honor of her bunny day. 🙂  She has never had anything like cake before and she’s our first child to absolutely dig in and love her first birthday cake.  It was a very special first birthday, just perfect in so many ways.  And I tried not to cry and be sad about her growing so big so fast, or the fact that it might be the last first birthday we celebrate, and instead just enjoy all that is now and all that will come.

 

 

happy birthday to daddy

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His birthday always comes quietly amongst all the hubbub of the Super Bowl.  Not that we are sports people (we’re not) and we don’t watch a single other game all year long (unless olympics are on or occasionally the world cup), but he likes to watch the Super Bowl.  We went to church as usual on Sunday, and I encouraged him to go do something fun that afternoon — go fly fishing, mountain biking, running, or whatever would be refreshing to him.  He decided to take the older two kids mountain biking, while I stayed home so the younger two girls could nap.  It ended up being perfect as he ran into a few friends on the trail, including phoebe’s best friend, which made her day.  She also got to pet a horse that was at the trail head too.  They came home just before dinner and I forgot to snap a photo of them.

I made his favorite dessert, cherry pie (using this crust recipe and the filling recipe from this one) with homemade ice cream, and his favorite food ever, pizza + caesar salad for dinner.  I always use this recipe for our favorite pizza crust and topped this one with spinach, pepperoni, and local grass-fed chorizo and it was amazing.  We watched the game while eating dinner and intermittently taking care of kids, singing happy birthday + blowing out candles before wren went to bed, and opening his gifts.  I got him this book on fly fishing, always trying to stoke the flames of his passions for the sports he loves and has so little time for.  The children wrapped up paintings they had made for him, and their handmade cards were the highlight of the evening.  I also gave him money toward a tool he’s had his eye on.

I think it was simple and fun day, and we really enjoyed being home together.  It’s hitting me that he’s getting closer to turning 40 and that just seems so odd.  I still feel like we are in our 20s.  Maybe that never really changes.  We are really thankful for this guy who works very hard to take care of us and pour his love out on us.  He loves fiercely, steadily, and often quietly, and we love spoiling him when we can!

horses for her eighth

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Just after winter solstice eight years ago, a bright and shining light was born into this world.  You, our sweet Phoebe girl.  Our horse crazy girl.  Vivacious, energetic to no end, singing and talking and dancing all the day long.  We knew we would love our little baby girl but we had no idea how everything would change the moment we laid eyes on you.  You came so quickly I was still in shock when I was staring into your dark eyes and wrinkly forehead.  Were you really here?  Were you really real?  You stole our hearts then and you still have them now.  It’s not easy being first, being the oldest, but I can’t think of someone more well-suited for the task.  You are a leader if ever there was one, never shy or unfriendly.  You are brave and bold, my girl, facing your own set of challenges with a cheerful spirit.

Eight years old feels grown up in ways that make my momma heart ache a bit raw.  Normally on your birthdays you are up before the sun and can’t wait to open all of your presents at once.  You have grown up this year, I suppose, and instead you spread the opening all throughout the day even until just before bed.  You received a horse for your Kaya doll that we found at our favorite consignment store as well as a barn and corral for your other horses.  You and I have so enjoyed the Misty of Chincoteague book series so we gifted you this Album of Horses book by the same author.  Your birthday sweater was still damp on the blocking boards but you couldn’t wait to wear it and your sparkly purple skirt as well.  You have worn your sweater literally every day since your birthday and truly you are the most knit worthy person I know!  It’s a joy making things for you.

Your daddy and I are so very proud of you Phoebe, thankful to know you and humbled to raise you.  We hope you grow this year in your love for God and for His Word, that you continue to seek Him and rest in His favor over you, His love that can’t be measured or lost.  We hope its a year full of growth, adventure, learning, and laughing.  Happy 8th birthday!

Love,
mom

Ps. Phoebe’s cake is the Chocolate Layer Cake made from the Paleo Kids Cookbook (highly recommend if you’re looking for ways to recreate children’s favorite foods and snacks) and I found organic and naturally dyed sprinkles from our local food co-op (very pricey though!).  My children haven’t really ever had sprinkles on anything so they were so enamored and excited, which made the cost worthwhile.  The cake seemed like it was going to be a big flop and it wasn’t pretty but it was delicious!

pps.  Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.  (That just means if you click through and happen to also purchase the same item through my permalink I get a very small payment from amazon without any cost to you.  Thank you for supporting this blog and our family!)

december birthday boy

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My sweet Noah man

You are everything kind, tenderhearted, sweet, and brave.  You have a quiet strength, and it’s a good thing with all these sisters around to take care of.  I love the way you love others and care for others, seeing and noticing especially those on the fringes.  It’s a sensitivity I hope you hold onto in this abrasive world.  You love trucks and cars and its all you asked for for your birthday, besides green hand knit socks and a sweater.  (You are so sweet to your momma, loving the things I make for you and wearing them happily, treasuring them.  I don’t know how long that will last so I’m enjoying it while I can!)  You love pouring over books with beautiful illustrations so we bought for you the Nature Anatomy book, and you have been carrying it around with you outside, identifying all sorts of treasures in our yard.  Your birthday was spent first with pancakes, then opening presents with daddy before he had to go to work.  We planned to go the fire station but it was pouring rain and mommy made the rash decision to do a “quick” stop to the walk-in bone and joint clinic to check on phoebe’s foot (which she injured jumping off the stage at church barefoot).  That took far longer than anticipated and we had no time for the fire station and no where to park in all the rain, so we opted for hot cocoa and movie at home instead.  It’s just like you, to sacrifice your plans for others, but we will make it up to you and visit the fire station soon!  I think you still had a fun and happy day.  I love you so much my one and only little man, now six years old and so tall and grown.  It is a joy to see you growing especially in your reading and art skills, as well as in your faith.  You are so quick to remind me that you love me very much but “not as much as I love God.”  May He always have first place in your heart.  I’m so very proud of you.

Love,
mom

a Thanksgiving birthday

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Sorry for the overload of photos, but I just can’t resist their sleepy head hair and puffy sleepy faces on their birthday mornings.  They wake each other up at the crack of dawn on each of their birthdays and run out to open presents.  Philippa likes to take things just a *bit* slower than the other two usually, so we hid a few of her presents around the living room for fun and also to help slow down the gift opening just a bit.  It worked and she thought it was a blast to find presents!  For a while she’s been asking for these two dragons she saw in a magazine, and every time we asked her what she wanted for her birthday she would mention only the dragons.  Philippa is my girl who loves girly things but also scary monsters and dragons.  🙂  For a while her favorite color was black.  She’s just her own little person.  We also gave her a book, the sweater I had knit for her (which wasn’t much of a hit but I am happy with it, at least 🙂 ), and a magic sketch boogie board.  Simple little things, but she seemed happy with it all and especially happy to have family come over later for Thanksgiving dinner.

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We hosted my parents and my brother and his family at our house, my parents made the turkey and we made the rest but with many hands helping.  It was really sweet and fun and my favorite moments were the final frenzy in the kitchen, all of us bumping into one another and divvying out tasks left and right as we got everything onto the table.  Later we sang happy birthday to Philippa over chocolate cake, homemade ice cream + berries.  What a sweet, full happy day.  I hope that it was a happy Thanksgiving for all of you as well, gathered with family, friends, loved ones over full plates that represent how well our God provides and cares for us and our daily needs.

Dear Philippa Ruth, my little sweet snuggly baby who is getting so tall and grown and lanky now.  I was the most afraid going into labor with you after having such a traumatic birth with Noah.  But you came so easily and you were born as I was laughing.  We’ve called you “the boss lady” from the start because you are determined and you know what you want.  That being said, you are such an easy-going and happy spirit in our home, usually the one to share the most easily and to play happily with whomever is around.  This year you grew from a toddling little girl to a big girl, it seems.  You learned how to go potty and now you’re giving up night time diapers.  You learned how to ride a bike and became a big sister.  You love doing school with Noah and often are learning right alongside him, even though you don’t need to be yet.  You love to laugh and you bring a lot of laughter to us all.  We all adore you and I’m thankful to God for your life and the unique gifts and joy you bring to our family!  Happy 4th birthday sweet girl.