three years

After watching all her siblings’ birthdays come and go this past winter, Wren has been wondering and asking regularly when it will finally be her turn. A few weeks ago as I was getting her dressed she begged, “Momma now can you make my buth-day? Because I’m bigger!” She has randomly asked me to make her “buth-day” a few times and I eventually came to understand she was talking about her cake. More than even her presents, she was excited about that cake. ūüôā The big day finally came last week. It’s hard to acknowledge that my little baby is really not a baby anymore, but a chatting, funny, mischievous three-year-old who is eager to keep up with her older brother and sisters. I sweetly reminisced on her birth, what a joyful and quiet time it was enjoying her arrival. She has brought such laughter and fun to our family these past three years in part because the older children have been old enough to really enjoy having a baby to carry around and take care of. They have enjoyed all her stages of growth and development just as Brandon and I have.

She wanted cereal for her birthday breakfast, and she was excited to see the balloon and bunny decorations. Afterwards she opened her gifts before daddy went to work. Her birthday sweater was the first thing she opened! I had stayed up until almost midnight the night prior finishing the last sleeve, weaving in ends and sewing on the two buttons. No time to block it, but she wouldn’t notice. (Now that I have blocked it, it looks better!) She wanted it on right away and has worn it most days since then. Very sweet girl to her mommy and very knit-worthy.

We gifted her a new backpack since the one she has been using isn’t very big or useful for hiking, and she’s starting to want to wear her backpack like the older kids when we go for hikes. We gave her a small journal with beeswax crayons in a little tin for her backpack travels. The best gifts are the ones they want to start using right away, and true to form she cracked open that tin and started coloring right away in her journal. We gave her The Story of the Orchestra: Carnival of Animals book because she loves this series so much. She was truly delighted! We also gave her the Our Little Adventures book set because it is beautiful, simple, and has bunnies and other forest creatures in it. She also received a new dress (called the wren dress), a sweet bunny pillow that I couldn’t resist from Target, a wooden animal/alphabet puzzle that she has enjoyed (and the other kids, too!), as well as a toy dragon (because for better or worse, all of my kids are obsessed with these dragons). Brandon’s parents gifted her with a sit-and-spin also.

My mom and the little guy she nannies (who is now a good friend to my kiddos) came over later in the morning and we made a trip out to Carl Sandburg to see the goats and go for a little walk. It was beautiful there and just starting to feel like spring, but we were bummed that the goat barn was still closed. Even still, it was a fun outing! Later, Wren finally got to have her cake. I made the same vegan carrot cake I’ve made every year for her so far (though this year I didn’t make it vegan) and it was delicious.

So it was all in all a very fun and happy day and I was sad to see it go. She is so proud to be three and bigger now, and I’m missing her little baby self but so grateful for the delight that it is to watch her grow.

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finally, ten

Finally, ten years old. For a girl who can’t wait to grow up, this birthday has long been anticipated. Though I share in her joy and celebration for sure, this momma also feels the surprise and hint of sorrow that comes with realizing how quickly ten years have gone by and how quickly this firstborn of mine is changing and becoming a little lady. This girl has inspired and shaped so much of my journey as a mother, as firstborns often do. God couldn’t have given a better gift to us those ten years ago on the day before Christmas Eve in that early morning snowfall. God couldn’t have set apart a better kiddo for paving the way. She is strong, incredibly joyful, vivacious, enthusiastic, positive, resilient, determined, compassionate. She loves everyone easily and generously. She forgives quickly. She has a huge passion for learning and exploring, and her own sweet faith in God is growing and continually encourages and challenges me.

I would venture to guess there are few who enjoy a party and presents as much as Phoebe does, so her special day was much anticipated. She was excited and happy over every gift as you can see in the pictures. She received from us some horse backing riding pants and boots, her birthday sweater which I knit, a new dress for her Kaya doll, a book, a new breyer horseback rider for her collection, as well as a couple gifts from family. I especially enjoyed seeing the other children wrap up favorite stuffed animals and toys in their blankets and present them to Phoebe as gifts. We also surprised her with a riding lesson at the same stable where she participated in horse camp this past summer. Everyone enjoyed the outing to the stable and visiting with the horses, and I was reminded that one’s area of interest enriches all of our lives. Later that night we had cake and sang happy birthday and marveled over this little ray of light. What an endless source of delight to us she is.

noah is 8

This year the kids requested having their birthday gifts hidden around the house for them to find. It was really fun for all! Noah received some new carhartt bib coveralls, his knitted birthday sweater from me, the book My Side of the Mountain, and a couple awesome gifts from grandparents. We also gave him a Bruder John Deere tractor he’s had his eye on for some time. Probably the most special gifts were the handmade rifle and pistol Brandon made for him, though. He inscribed each gun with a scripture. Noah’s favorite song is Psalm 46 by Shane and Shane and without remembering that, Brandon happened to pick a portion of Psalm 46 to inscribe on the rifle. It was a sweet moment. He will treasure those guns for sure!

Noah requested that we go for a hike to see some waterfalls, and it was so good for us all to be out in nature for a bit. The waterfall pictured is High Falls at Dupont State Park. Only moments into our hike Noah fell hard and hurt his knee, and we almost turned back but he decided to try and keep going. It was peaceful, quiet, chilly and lovely in the woods. We left there and drove over to a favorite pottery place that does an open house in December where you can pick out a free cup and enjoy cider. Then back home to make the birthday boy’s dinner request: pizza. His cake this year wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped it be, but I did manage to make some semblance of a fish on it with candy and sprinkles I happened to have on hand. I think he loved it. ūüôā

Noah, as daddy often says to you, you’re a good man. And you are! Kind and strong, tenderhearted and sweet. You care so sweetly for your sisters. Sometimes its hard to be the only boy but you carry it well. You’ve grown up a lot this year and we’re so proud of you, your hard work, diligence in school, love for reading, your excitement about nature and love for exploring. Thank you for all your eagerness to work and help, thank you for your laughter and energy, and the way you invite us to play. It is easy to celebrate you! Happy birthday, son. You are so loved. May you continue to grow in your love for God as you journey through this next year!

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. ūüôā ¬† 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. ūüôā ¬†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).


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,



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. ūüôā ¬†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


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 br√Ľl√©e 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


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. ūüôā ¬†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


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. ūüôā ¬†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


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!