the last of November

November finished with a sweet and simple Thanksgiving spent with Brandon’s parents at our home. I made all the fixings but I haven’t cooked a turkey in some years and the recipe in Danielle Walker’s Celebrations cookbook for a brined turkey did not disappoint. It was delicious if I do say so myself. ūüôā We sang “Now Thank We All Our God” as we sat down to eat, the hymn the children and I had been singing daily in the month of November. What a beautiful act of worship, to give thanks in the very midst of so much hard.

That weekend we made our annual trip to our favorite dreamy Christmas farm, just a simple quiet tract of land out in the boonies. We open our van doors and the kids tumble out and start running free in the wide fields, and all feels right with the world. The very fat, funny looking tree pictured was the one we thought we would get but ended up finding a different variety that we liked better for its huge and healthy bristles. Our children couldn’t wait to decorate it, though we didn’t get to it for a few days more. It is always the sweetest thing to unpack all the ornaments from our 14 years together. Always, so many memories and stories. This year it was Wren’s turn to hang the star. I am so grateful for this season of light to end a very dark year, reminded that in all things, in all things, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. I’m looking for all the ways, and I hope you are too.

arbor vitae


Another year, another trip to our favorite tree farm where we’ve cut a tree for the past several years. ¬†As usual, it takes us hours as we romp around, snap pictures, play hide and seek, munch on snacks, and just generally pretend that this peaceful plot of land is ours. ¬†It does something in my soul to see children running around in all this open quiet space, laughing, gathering found bits of nature to treasure. The weather was gloomy but beautiful for pictures. ¬†It isn’t Christmas until we have our tree, and how nice it is to enjoy its light all Advent long.

growing like trees

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A visit to our favorite tree farm which we’ve gone to for 5 years now. ¬†Family pictures were attempted but mostly unsuccessfully. ¬†Oh well. ūüôā ¬†Lots of little eyes and mouths needing to coordinate into one big looking smiling bunch and I have to laugh remembering my parents trying to take family photos of us when I was little. ¬†Only then, we didn’t hear the wrath about it until dad got the pictures developed (back in the dark ages) and then he’d flip through them and realize they were all basically worthless. ¬†This is a part of the journey a family makes–the quest for the illusive family photo–and really it’s better to laugh about it and accept defeat. ¬†All of these pictures together paint a better portrait of us, anyway: in constant motion and with the full gamut of human emotion on display.

This tree farm is now a 30ish minute drive away for us so we packed a picnic on a Sunday after church and made a day of it. ¬†We did eat more than chips but that’s all that was pictured, so there you go. ¬†The children played hide and seek amongst the trees and the girls made bouquets with spruce clippings. ¬†Everyone graciously allowed me to choose the tree–my specifications were that it be very fat and short. ¬†You pay for height, you see, not girth. ¬†We did end up with a $45 tree that is quite a bit wider in our living room than it looked at the farm, but we all think maybe it’s the best one we’ve ever had (though we say that every year). ¬†I think next year someone else should get a turn to pick the tree since my skills are obviously lacking in sensibility. ¬†Phoebe had Brandon and I pose with a bouquet of pine in my hand, which we did to oblige her as she snapped our picture. ¬†This is how she sees us, how they see us, and we need to remember it.

We put the tree up that evening and decorated it the next, all before the first of December. ¬†I like to have the tree up after Thanksgiving but definitely before December and the beginning of Advent because it’s so wonderful to have our advent readings by the tree. ¬†Brandon and I are getting better at figuring out ways to simplify and keep December as chaos-free as possible and this includes getting birthday and Christmas shopping done early in the month (I have everything for birthdays + Christmas already purchased and wrapped at this point except for one gift for Wren) so that we can savor the season.

Anyway, we decorated the tree, myself unwrapping ornaments in crinkly tissue paper and handing them out to each child from the couch, while Daddy stood at the tree to help and lift children. ¬†It was Philippa’s year to put the star on the top, her first year, and she was so proud. ¬†It’s the best time of year, having a bright pungent spruce in the home, remembering our tree-farm-one-day dreams, making memories for our children and teaching them all the little traditions that are special to our family. ¬†I keep snapping photos and writing these words, bundling the memories up and wondering why I keep at it, and then I look back at old posts like this one and this one¬†and this one¬†and I remember. ¬†Here I am, just trying to nail down the memories and the moments while they spin by me. ¬†These days are going by in a blur and how did these babies transform into these big lanky kids while I blinked? ¬†Everyone says it–it goes by so fast–but it is only becoming more and more true in my experience.

(Also, in the farm pictures, Philippa is wearing her birthday sweater that I knit in the yarn I dyed myself. ¬†So love it, though she sort of doesn’t.)

Is it too early to say Merry Christmas? ¬†I don’t think so. ¬†Merry Christmas, friends. ¬†May these days be merry + bright!

it’s beginning to look a lot like


Christmas! ¬†We are in full swing¬†and¬†leaning into the season. ¬†There are little traditions every year that we keep, one of which has become cutting¬†a tree at a favorite farm tucked away in little ordinary, inglorious Rosman, NC just outside of Brevard. ¬†We went after church the first Sunday of Advent, and my parents tagged along. ¬†We had a quick picnic lunch together on a blanket, than tried to get a few family pictures. ¬†The past couple of years the farm owners have offered a hay wagon ride for free for the kids, which they love of course. ¬†Then we got to work picking a tree. ¬†I wanted a short and really fat one¬†this year, and Brandon indulged me. ¬†For $30! ¬†It’s my favorite tree that we’ve ever had, I think. ¬†These sorts of traditions are¬†more fun every year as the kids get older and are more involved. ¬†Nothing feels merrier than a fresh spruce twinkling in our living room, greeting us every morning while we sip coffee in robes by the fire.

Last year at this same farm.  What a difference a year makes.


Oh, Christmas tree!

This month is so full and busy for us. ¬†There’s more celebration packed into it than we hardly know what to do with, BUT it is wild joy. ¬†Both of our babies were born near Christmas, two years and three days apart. ¬†So we have birthday festivities amongst all the Christmas festivities. ¬†Between holiday parties, family gatherings, parades, gingerbread house making, extra church celebrations, etc., we find ourselves having to be pretty intentional about how to slow down and savor this month and all it holds! ¬†We can get overworked, exhausted and irritable in a hurry if we aren’t careful.

With every weekend packed for the whole month of December, we headed out into the freezing cold on November 30th to chop down our Christmas tree. ¬†If it didn’t happen then, it just wouldn’t have happened. ¬†Both babies were pretty sick so we were in and out as quick as could be.


A little tree farm we just love.


^ Setting off to find our tree… ^Image



^ showing me her ribbon to tie on the tree ^



^ can you tell I love this red barn?? ^


^ so sick and yet smiling, as usual ^



^ found the one ^



^ and busy right away with decorating ^



A tree inside all covered in lights and color and memories makes us all so happy!