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.

all together

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How can June already be over?  It was a blur of busyness and family, celebrating and feasting.  I didn’t get many photos on my birthday, but it was a happy day.  I forgot how eager the kids are on anyone’s birthday to open presents, so I was barely out of my bedroom to get coffee that morning before a gaggle of little ones with tousled hair were pulling me to the kitchen table to see their gifts.  I wanted to wait and maybe do gifts later, but they would have none of it.  Brandon had taken them for a walk the night before to a grocery store nearby (while I was out with a girlfriend for coffee) where they picked out small gifts for me and cards.  Philippa had picked some natural handmade lavender soap, noah had picked a charcoal infused loofah.  Phoebe had been working on a handmade gift for me for a little while, a small wooden bird that she added stitching to.  She had named it “Louis,” though it’s supposed to be a girl bird, and she was really quite tempted to keep it herself.  She keeps asking me where Louis is and if I’m taking care of him her.  Brandon gifted me a couple of books I had on my wishlist, as well as a set of chiaogoo interchangeable needles.  I cast on with them right away for a birthday shawl of sorts for myself with yarn I purchased with some birthday money, and it has been such a treat knitting with them!  One of my brothers treated me to a 3-month coffee subscription to Counter Culture coffee and it has been one of my favorite gifts of all time! Later that day we went over to my parents house, as my mom and I share a birthday and we try to get together on it when we can.  Mom treated me to a manicure/pedicure and then a dinner out to the only restaurant we can really go to with Phoebe (with a dedicated gluten free kitchen).  It was a fun and busy day!  I felt so very loved and spoiled and blessed and full.

The next day, family began streaming in.  My brother from Canada and his wife were surprising mom for her 60th birthday, and my other siblings and their families were all arriving in the next day or so.  Father’s day (Sunday) we gathered to celebrate mom’s 60th together, and it was truly unforgettable.  It was the first time ever that we have *all* been together.  We celebrated, ate, gave her a couple of special gifts, and ended the evening with singing together.  I think we will all look back on these recent days we had together with joy and fondness.  So much has happened in our family story, so many stories that aren’t mine to share–but when I look out across the landscape of our family, I see so much redemption that has come out of so much brokenness.  We have an enemy who has tried to dismantle, break, ruin, and destroy our family in very painful ways, and we have seen hard years together.  But here we are, still standing.  Still together, by God’s grace alone.  Still going forward in love and forgiveness and hope secure in a God who is able to hold us fast.

Ps. I actually did pretty horribly at taking photos with my camera while everyone was here.  I really only brought it to the picnic, and got a random smattering.  But here’s a special video clip that I’m thankful I captured.

her seventh

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Dear sweet phoebe girl

Seven years with you has both flown by and also seemed like a lifetime.  I can barely remember what our world was like without you in it.  You came and you brought so much light and joy to our home, you made us a family.  You were so small, wrinkly, and frail and we thought there was no way we should be entrusted to care for such a precious little bundle.

Year after year you have delighted and surprised us.  You have gone through so very much in this last year, probably one of your hardest years yet.  Watching you undergo your second and third endoscopy and colonoscopy, as well as doing the hardest elimination diet I’ve ever known for 3 full months–so tough that none of us even felt we could do it with you.  It was painful to watch, to walk through with you, the tears, the questions you would ask, hearing your sweet prayers asking God to heal your body.  And then finally, a glimmer of hope.  A clear endoscopy, but still elevated antibody levels in your blood.  By this year’s end, we finally got those numbers under control–so much work and so much “going without” for you, and I’m so proud of what you’ve had to endure.  It’s going to be a long road ahead for you, but you are the strongest, bravest, most positive little girl I know.  I think you’re going to do just fine.

In the process of all of that, we moved from our rental in with Grandpa and Rainey while we waited to find and then close on our house, then finally into our new home.  Lots of change and busyness, us trying to keep up with your schooling in the midst of it.  Summer came and we found out a new baby was on its way to us, and momma was pretty wiped out with sickness for the next few months.  Then, in the fall you began first grade!  You were so proud, telling everyone everywhere we went about it and how grown up you are now.

Its sort of ironic that you are the firstborn, and yet your birthday comes last in our string of holiday birthdays.  It’s so hard for you to wait until it’s finally your turn.  In the barely-there hints of morning light you came stumbling out of bed to see the house decorated for a day just for you, pink wrapping and homemade birthday banners strung up around all the christmas decorations.  We gave you the option to open all your gifts right away, knowing how hard it is for you to wait, but you wanted to do what Philippa and Noah did and open a few at breakfast and save the rest for later.  You opened the bonnet I knit for you, which you’ve been asking for for a long time.  It just fits, but maybe after a good blocking it’ll fit a bit better.  We also gave you a new dress for your Kaya doll (American girl doll) and some of her trading accessories for when she would go to trade her wares.  What fun it was last year to read through all the Kaya books with you, and we need to reread them!  You immediately had to dress her in her new things and you were so excited to have her with you all day long.

It was a rainy, gray day so we decided to go into town for a little walk.  It was the first time we’ve walked around in our little hometown and gone into all the shops that interest us.  It was really fun!  You pushed Kaya around everywhere and were so careful to keep her dry in the rain.  Later in the afternoon, you opened the rest of your gifts.  Your dresses and new pjs from grandparents.  We gave you your first real bible, now that you’re reading.  What a fun time your daddy and I had picking out just the right one for you at the bookstore.  I gave you the sweater I had knit for you, and you threw it on right away.  I love knitting for you because you enjoy it so.  I had also put together a little sewing kit for you–your own little scissors, needles, pack of floss, embroidery hoops and aida cloth.  You were so excited, as I thought you might be, and wanted to get started on it right away.

You wanted pizza for dinner and of course chocolate cake with strawberries.  What a sweet and joy-filled day, simple cozy and full.  It never feels adequate to sum up how we feel, but we love you so very much.  So very proud of you and excited to walk with you into this new year, wondering what it will hold.  How I treasure our morning snuggles, our tea and knitting time, reading together, cooking together.  Grow strong and true, my little girl.  Let go of what you can’t hold onto anyway.  Lean the full weight of who you are and your desires on your Savior.  He loves you more than we can imagine, He has a good plan, He is busy working it all out for your good and for His glory.  Run your race with joy, with hope, with faith, and keep those little eyes fixed on Him all the way.  We’re right here, cheering you on in every step.

Love you always and forever
xo
Mama

Noey’s day (5!)

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Your favorite foods are pizza (in your daddy’s footsteps), applesauce, cereal and pancakes, chips and popcorn.  You are still addicted to your dee-T (blankie) which is fine by me.  Rue the day you outgrow dee-T!  You are sensitive, careful, a tinkerer, loud and wiggly, bouncy and giggly, a lover of music (drums especially) and riding bikes.  You can’t wait to grow up and have a “real race car with a trailer behind it.”

This was maybe the most fun birthday we’ve had with you yet because you were actually excited about opening presents and didn’t mind us singing happy birthday to you since it was just us.  When you opened your playmobil “trash truck” (recycling) you said, “Yes!! Now we can go trashing all day!”  You held it up at the window for the trash men to see when they went by the next day, and they honked at you and gave a thumbs up.  It was a treat to see you build your lego airplane with daddy and I think you’re finally at the age where you really enjoy legos and playmobil.  It always surprises me how much you love your hand knits, and you wanted to put your new birthday sweater on right away.  I’m just glad it actually fit well!  You reminded me all day that you wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and that you wanted cereal for dinner.  I made spaghetti, which is another of your favorites, hoping to entice you with it, but in the end relented and let you have cereal.

I look forward to the adventures we’ll have in the coming year!  Welcoming a new baby with you as my big boy helper, spring and planting our garden, fall and your official start of school.  So many new things to come!  Your daddy and I adore you and thank God for you.  Happy 5th birthday!

Love,
Mom

a big girl

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The day before Thanksgiving was Philippa’s third birthday.  Being that all of our children thus far have birthdays around the holidays, we often struggle with how to celebrate both Christmas and birthdays reasonably, simply, and economically.  We’ve tried different things each year, it seems.  This year, we’re making a bit more of birthdays and planning a lower-key, less-gifts sort of Christmas.

Philippa woke on her day early, and it’s the first birthday where she has really talked about it for weeks before her big day, and both girls woke up eager for birthday fun (Phoebe enjoys other people’s birthdays just as much as her own).  Phippa really can’t wait to be “a big girl.”  We had to wake sleepy Noah up a bit early that morning so birthday girl could open a few gifts before daddy headed off to work.  Usually we let the birthday child decide the meal plan and activities for the day, but her only real request was for chocolate cake with blueberries.  A girl who knows what she wants. 🙂  We gave her a few gifts in the morning–a hand-dyed play silk from my favorite blogger, Ginny, and her lovely little handmade shop.  It smells heavenly and is simply gorgeous.  Ginny generously sent along some stickers (made from her own nature photography) as well for Philippa, which was such a treat (though I was tempted to keep them for myself).  She also sweetly worked hard to get Philippa’s gift to her on time, which meant a lot to me!  We let Philippa open her birthday dress and her toy, which was a wooden stable with horses.  That was a huge hit with each of the kids and they all played with it all day.

I made a grain-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free chocolate cake from the Celebrations cookbook (sidenote: amazing cookbook!) for Philippa, topped with the vanilla buttercream from the same cookbook.  I did something funny/wrong with the frosting so I had to play a bit with it to get it to spread on the cake, but it ended up being delicious.

We had a fairly regular sort of day otherwise, school and cleaning and playing outside.  Daddy came home with a balloon for her, which she loved.  After dinner my parents stopped by with their gift for Philippa and we let her open the rest of the gifts before cake.  We gave her her own “journal” (from Michaels) and her first real set of colored pencils.  I found a really cute handmade pencil roll-up case at this etsy shop, and it happened to have foxes on it, which Philippa loves.  I wasn’t sure if she’d be too young to appreciate it, but she has treasured this little gift every day since, and has used many of her stickers from Ginny to decorate her journal, too.  She seems to feel quite grown up with own little set of pencils.  My parents gifted her a sweet new dress and pair of pajamas, and a tiny little mini mug.  She opened my hand knit sweater for her and promptly tossed it aside, as she did with the rest of the clothes, but the next day she was eager to try everything on and wear it.  We also gave her a ukulele, and it has been okay, but I didn’t realize it wasn’t real wood and sort of wish we had gotten this one for her.  Still, for our music-loving kids, it has been fun for each of them to have something to play together (Phoebe, her violin; Noah his drums, and now Philippa her little uke).

A couple days later Philippa agreed to let me snap some pictures of her in her sweater that I made (ravelry notes here), and I’m super proud of it.  I feel like it’s the first one I’ve made that has fit how I wanted it to.  It’s a cropped sweater, so the body is supposed to be short on it, and it looks darling over dresses.  She seems to really like it, too.

It was a fun day, even though there were some usual hiccups and challenges along the way.  Her hair did briefly catch on fire while blowing out candles.  🙂  I remember Philippa’s second birthday being hard, her being out of sorts and unusually grumpy and strung out, and she was a bit like this on this birthday, too.  All the attention is a bit much, even though she loves it at the same time.  Although in reality, their birthdays make me feel a bit strung out, too, trying to make it a special day.  Simple is always best, right?

We are pretty thankful to get to know this precocious, funny and darling little girl.  Lately she keeps coming up to Brandon and I and rubbing our arms and saying, “I lus you daddy” or “I lus you momma.”  We live for those sweet little unexpected moments.

Philippa’s first birthday here, second birthday here.

(Affiliate links included in this post.)

a (late) birthday letter

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hey baby girl.  can it really be?  you’re finally three.  i look back on those early days with you–oh, how happy they were.  you were born in laughter, and you were your strong-natured unique and spicy little self right from the start.  you were born just days before Thanksgiving and with everyone busy with family and festivities, we had a quiet few days alone together at home enjoying new you and the sleepy early days.

this past year with you has been fun and full and hard, a bit, too.  being two is hard, and maybe being three won’t be much easier.  but i see you growing and changing and learning, and i’m proud of you!  you began talking up a storm this year, and hearing more of your little thoughts and funny words for things has kept us laughing.  You call your bottom your “bawnos” and your fingers “fing-wey” or “fing-wa.”  hugs are “squishees.”  you call my yarn my “kninning” and my needles “neenles.”  i love the way you run, little arms down and flapping back and forth.  you love “moomies,” get excited about anything phoebe and noah are excited about, and you still love to be the family clown and make everyone laugh.

you can be bossy and head strong but also so sensitive, and a harsh word can easily send you into tears.  this year we worked on potty training, and it was a long, long road–with still some hard days here and there, but you’ve made great progress and how you’ve loved your new big-girl status.

you and noah are inseparable, the very best of friends.  often when i’m busy in the mornings doing school with phoebe, you two are off playing together somewhere and, boy, do you love to laugh together.  i hope your bond stays strong all of your days.

often you ask me how the baby is doing, and you seem so excited to be a big sister and not the littlest one anymore.  i think you’re going to love it and be a very good big sister.

sweet girl, you have a tender and joyful spirit.  i still love our evening sings and prayer time, just you and me.  watching you grow up is a delight.  seeing you become more interested in our morning family time in scripture, and your interest to always try and answer the questions.  to sense in you a love for God and to hear you pray is a blessing.  i pray for you continually to love Him, to walk with Him all your days, to know the joy it is to grow up in the shadow of His wings, facing all your days with Him.  He has a great plan for you life little one, and i’m thankful we get to be a part of it.

happy third birthday, philippa ruth.  i love you so ❤

mommy

 

the night raccoon

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The boy who doesn’t like opening presents, who hides from his cake and goes under the table when people start singing him “happy birthday.”  He likes a small and simple day.  We let him open a few gifts from grandparents in the morning before daddy left for work so he had a few things to play with.  We walked to the park and he tried out his new crossbow.  Daddy came home from work early so he didn’t have to wait too long for the rest of his presents.  He requested pancakes and bacon for dinner, which was a thrill to the girls.  So we had that plus chocolate birthday cake.  He opened his gift from us which was a drum set, and it definitely was the highlight of his day.  We were so happy to be able to surprise him with something so unexpected.  He loves drumming and had asked for a drum awhile ago, and usually can be found beating to the rhythm of music with two railroad track pieces on the couch cushions.  I didn’t finish his sweater in time which is a disappointment, he even asked about it, but I’m almost done with it now and will share pictures soon.  I really can’t believe how much he’s grown in the last year and how he has transformed from a little baby to this big gangly kid.  So weird.

I left his cake on the table after we enjoyed some so that we could bathe the kids and get them to bed.  Usually Brandon and I will shower and get in our jammies after the kids are down.  We came out after our shower and Noah was standing at our door (out of his bed) with his hands in his mouth.  Brandon noticed he was all chocolatey around his mouth and at first told him he was going to spank him, then he started smirking and said, “well you’re just so darn cute and it is your birthday, but get back in bed.”  We were chuckling that he would get out of bed knowing we were in the shower and go sneak a bite more of his cake.  Little did we know until we came back into the kitchen what he had actually done.  (I wish I had thought to get a picture of it!)  His cake was scraped nearly clean, covered in little claw marks everywhere.  He had literally licked the icing off the entire cake.  Three days later on Phoebe’s birthday he snuck out of bed and licked the icing off of HER cake too, even though I had put it higher on the counter.  So he’s become a little night raccoon sneaking into our kitchen after bedtime.  He is quiet, this one, but mischievous.

 

my strawberry girl

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She tells me her phoebe sweater is one of her favorite gifts and she’s been cozying up in it every day at some point.  The yarn relaxed so much after blocking it that even though I made a size 6 for my petite little 6 year old, it still is quite big and will fit her for a few years if she takes good care of it.  I loved knitting it and am so glad it is cozy and warm and a cheery red for her.  It reminds me of the bright red cardinals we see flitting around in the drab winter scenery, little spots of color in the long winter.  The bonnet was one of her stocking gifts, she has asked for one for months.  I think this one is so cute and it will get lots of wear.  We gave her the book “Phoebe’s Sweater” along with it, which has the knitting patterns in the back.

Her birthday this year was really calm and quiet and peaceful.  She wanted to open all of her presents before daddy went to work so we let her.  We gave her a violin and the sweater I had knit her.  Brandon had picked out a special necklace for her, it looks sort of “indian-ish” so it goes well with her latest imaginary play.  She had a few other gifts to open from her grandparents.  She wanted to go to the park to play, the one that has swings, so we spent the morning there.  The weather has been fairly mild lately so it was really nice to be out.  I let her skip her “quiet time” after lunch and we worked on her new legos and then snuggled and watched a christmas movie.  I baked her cake that morning, a gluten-free funfetti cake with my own buttercream icing and I covered it in strawberries because she loves them so.  She was soo excited about her cake, as you can see.