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!

December festivities

Forgive me while I catch up here on all the December happenings! It feels like I haven’t had a free day at home to do so all month. Today is the day before Phoebe’s birthday and I have wrapped all gifts and plan to make her birthday dessert today so that tomorrow can be a little less stressful.

The first two weeks of December were busy with wrapping up our last bits of school before taking a nice long break. Phoebe’s choir had a Christmas concert (done safely with social distancing and masks where needed) and it was something special to hear their beautiful voices and various girls’ instruments after such a year of isolation. A few days later Noah and Phoebe had a piano recital, their first one in person after a zoom spring recital. What a good experience for them to play their pieces in front of a (small) audience! My camera was acting up and I didn’t get many photos of Noah playing sadly.

The first weekend of December I threw a very small joint birthday party for Noah and Phoebe. Not one to usually do parties, I’m so glad we did. It was very sweet for them to have three of their close friends over (that we already regularly see). Phoebe wanted to have an American doll tea party, and I wonder if this might be the last year she is into dolls? She did all of the setup, made little place cards and assigned seats, while I prepared a few little snacks for the girls to enjoy. I think it was really fun! Meanwhile, Brandon met Noah’s friends at a nearby mini golf course and they played a round of mini golf together and had cupcakes there. I was bummed to not be able to be there, but the point was to give the kids some time with their friends and there was no other way to make two parties happen this month! I’m pretty pleased with how it all went.

Meanwhile, Brandon and I have started just a small update on our tiny master bathroom. We haven’t done anything to it since buying the home three years ago and it is quite an eyesore. I will share better “before and after” pictures once we finish this first phase of updating (these are all “before”). We hope to eventually remodel the bathroom entirely, but in the meantime I had a can of paint leftover from painting our front door and I felt that it would make a big difference just to repaint the wall above the tile in bathroom, change the mirror and light fixture and vanity. It’s going slowly because theres just not much time this month for working on it, so for now our bedroom is in a bit of a state of disarray. I don’t mind so much because it is so exciting to see improvements!

It has been good to have quieter, simpler days at home, free time to do crafts or adventures and stay in our pajamas all day. I’m still hoping to make some Christmas cookies together and get to organizing some closets and our school room before our break is over. Tomorrow is Phoebe’s birthday and I still need to share photos from Noah’s birthday. Busy, busy. If I don’t post before then, I pray your Christmas season is merry and bright, rich in love, peaceful, pierced with a particular joy that comes from slowing down, savoring God’s good gifts. I pray you can gather with a loved one or two and that whomever you spend Christmas with, you enjoy the gift of each other’s presence.

respite

Ever since we visited this beautiful, quiet lakehouse last year we’ve been anticipating and hoping to return. We saved and planned, then held plans loosely as life came with interruptions and the world faced a pandemic. So we felt especially grateful and blessed to return to this place. This time we knew what to expect, how wonderful it would be. Did I mention how quiet it is? How good it was to ease into a different sort of rhythm, early sunrise mornings on the dock, late starlit evenings there, too. The peaceful sounds of crisp leaves and lapping water. Long stretches of time together without the usual bustle of schoolwork, activities, and work vying for our attention. We savored swimming, playing, fishing, knitting (for me), canoeing, exploring, reading, resting. It was a sweet and needful time of reconnecting with God, with each other, in the beauty of creation. It felt like summer’s last hurrah, the last of the sunscreen slathered on. The water was icy cold and yet it was refreshing when the sun was blazing. One night we had wild winds and freezing temperatures, which gave us the most stunning misty sunrise on the lake the next day. I couldn’t imagine getting back in that freezing mountain lake water then but by mid-morning it was toasty warm again. Such is fall in the mountains. Noah and Philippa fished and fished, and I was so disappointed for them that they never caught anything. Brandon caught the only two fish of the trip.

Still it was a happy time together, many sweet memories made in the sweet month of October with beautiful leaves changing all around. It couldn’t have been more needed after a year like this year, and I know so many of you understand. I hope you have been able to find respite, too. When Brandon and I paddled all around the lake with the children in the canoe it seemed so strange, all of us tucked neatly into this one little boat. All this love and noise and life contained in this one little vessel, so small in the world, Brandon and I carrying us forward, directing, safe-keeping. Their easy trust and childlike dependence, such a precious gift. Brandon and I, too, looking in dependence to our Father as we make our way in this wild world, hoping to do some good for Him in it all, carried by His grace.

beside still waters

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Hello friends. ¬†How are you all doing? ¬†I hope you’re ok, not just in body but also in mind and soul. ¬†We’ve been ok. ¬†We are all healthy and for that I’m grateful. ¬†These are challenging times for us all, and I have felt quite overwhelmed. ¬†All of our usual extra curricular activities have been cancelled and we have been home for many days. ¬†I’m thankful for a big yard and sunny days when they come, it lifts the heaviness and helps us not to feel so cooped up.

However, in anticipation of a “shelter-in-place” ordinance, we decided to get out on the parkway this last weekend for a proper hike. ¬†The more popular areas were packed with cars and we decided to avoid those. We found a trail we haven’t hiked before that ended up being so beautiful and peaceful, and we really only saw a handful of other hikers. ¬† There are few things that are as restorative as the wilderness for us.

At the beginning of the “social distancing”, my pastor shared this quote from C. S. Lewis with us and it has stuck with me throughout these past two weeks.¬† Lewis was writing this as they lived under threat of the atomic bomb:

“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things‚ÄĒpraying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts‚ÄĒnot huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

C.S. Lewis, On Living in an Atomic Age

I admit that in these last many days, it has been challenging for me to keep to the basic activities of being human.¬† I’ve had to be intentional in still lighting the candles at dinner, snapping photos of sweet moments and pretty things, folding the laundry, scrubbing the bathrooms, reading good stories, setting out the next day’s schoolwork in the evenings. ¬†Sometimes these things feel so meaningless when facing such imminent health and economic threat. ¬†Yet I have also been anchored by these same human activities; kept from endless scrolling of headlines, worrying and fretting.¬† The activities of being human help me to continue on being human.¬† And it is essential in times like these that we don’t lose our humanity.

Being outside in the sun, having moments of stillness, carrying on with normal work as much as possible, knitting, music, connecting with friends virtually, reading scripture–these are some of the anchors.

Be well, friends. ¬†It may be quieter here on the blog, it may not be, I’m not sure. ¬†I hope you are well, I hope you are finding the things that anchor you, too. ¬†A song we sing often at church is this one, and it feels more appropriate now than ever before. ¬†Sending you warm hugs, friends.

xo
Martha

 

 

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).

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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

 

january mild

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What a mild winter it has been so far. ¬†I feel a bit complain-y but I do miss a good cold/snowy cozy winter. ¬†I hope we still have some of those days ahead. ¬†Yesterday the warm sun felt so good and who could resist sitting out in it and basking in it in the middle of January? ¬†Certainly not me. ¬†I am a firm believer in taking the gifts of each day’s weather. ¬†Still it feels unnatural to move from fall into spring. ¬†I’m missing my old friend winter, the way she makes us crazy toward her end and ready for thawing soil, spring rain, vibrant color, and the smallest glimpses of new life. ¬†It strikes me that maybe we just can’t fully enjoy the glories of spring without the quietude and bleakness of a long winter.

We’ve been back to our usual routines and though there’s always a rub to the mundane parts of life, there is a simplicity to it that feels healing. ¬†Our mornings are full of books, writing, arithmetic, our afternoons full of time spent outdoors, music lessons, tutoring, or running household errands. ¬†We had a fair bit of rain the last few days, and in the glorious sunshine that follows, I find myself wandering about the garden, starting to think about what we will grow this year. ¬†I knit up a pair of baby bloomers for Wren. ¬†They are knit top-down in yarn from local-to-me Bovidae Farm, with a sweet little lateral braid separating the rib and the squishy fisherman’s rib on the body. ¬†They are simple and darling. ¬†Wren seems to love anything I make for her, she loves dressing up and trying things on, so she is always game for new hand knits. ¬†I snapped a few pictures of her this morning in the blustery morning air. ¬†She was very busy tidying up her little house outside, bringing me all sorts of items the older children had left out there and throwing whatever else she didn’t want down the slide. ¬†She is full of big feelings, this little one, one minute ecstatic and the next minute screaming her frustration. ¬†In a little more than a month she will be two and I can hardly believe it.

ps. Wren is wearing the wiksten animal bonnet which I knit in naturally-dyed yarn, and in the earlier pictures she’s wearing her flax light sweater from her first birthday. ¬†Yes, I’m already contemplating what her birthday sweater should be for this year. ūüôā ¬†I’m thinking about another Camilla Babe sweater in my own hand-dyed worsted eco yarn dyed with marigold.

a sweet Christmas

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Sweet Christmas.  With all our effort to minimize activity and slow the month down and savor each day, it still flew by in a flash.  It has come and gone, today being New Years Eve, and the next year crests just over the horizon.  How sweet the Christmas season is.  When the children woke up Christmas morning, they opened their stockings.  We filled them with dried fruit, a little bit of sweet treats, rainbow pencils, fun wooden animal pens from world market, a new pack of markers, a christmas ornament, naturally-dyed head scarves for the girls, bunny hair clips for wren, mood rings for Phoebe and Philippa, a new watch for Noah.  Wren got her own beeswax crayons and notebook, which she is so proud of.

Then we had breakfast and our last Advent reading from the book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. ¬†(I was proud and excited to have found pumpkin and carrot muffins (cupcakes?) that were all natural and from a dedicated gluten-free facility for Christmas morning at a local health food store.) ¬†After that we opened gifts. ¬†As much as we try to slow the morning down so we can see everything and enjoy each present being opened, the children just can’t help rushing into it all. ¬†They had some gifts from loved ones besides the ones we had chosen for them, so that made it feel quite abundant and full. ¬†Truly, they have no idea how blessed they are, but then the same could be said of each of us, I am sure.

Noah and Philippa got some new lego, Phoebe got a table top easeland new art supplies. The older three all got nice large sketch books with a mini set of higher quality watercolor paints (for natural journaling, I hope). ¬†Noah received the The Ology book, Philippa got Poppy and Vivaldi, and Phoebe got some new Horse Diaries books. ¬†Wren got 1 is One by Tasha Tudor. ¬†I gave Brandon New Morning Mercies¬†and maybe secretly hope I can share it with him. ūüôā ¬†Wren received a Melissa and Doug barn (she has loved Philippa’s smaller horse barn) and also a wooden tricycle which can adapt to be a balance bike. ¬†Not that we need another bike, really, but it is nice for her to have something just her own and something she can ride right away. ¬†Noah received from us a sweet of K-Nex and a cd player for his room, as well as a lullaby cd for he and Wren. ¬†Phoebe and Philippa also received a new lullaby cd for their room. ¬†All the kiddos have been loving listening to peaceful music at night to help with bad dreams or for Phoebe when she isn’t feeling well (headaches and nausea have been happening more often lately). ¬†We gave all of the kids Bird Bingo and a new puzzle as a family gift. ¬†We have already played Bird Bingo so much and I can’t wait to add Bug Bingo and Ocean Bingo to our games one day.

I had hoped to knit a small item for each family member. ¬†I managed to finish socks for Philippa, a slipped stitch tam for Phoebe, and a doe cap for Wren. ¬†Noah’s socks are half done, and I have nothing in the works for Brandon just yet, but he never really wants anything. ¬†I do hope to knit him some socks soon. ¬†Maybe he will be swayed to prefer hand-knit socks if he just tries a pair. ūüôā

Brandon and I had agreed not to buy presents for each other this year, maybe just a couple small things for stockings.  We needed to replace our living room rug and I was wanting to do a few other small things to spruce up our living room/entry area, so that was our gift to each other.

Anyway, although it felt like it whizzed past us, Christmas day was really fun and special. ¬†Later that day we went over to my parent’s house nearby and gathered with all the siblings who were here. ¬†I was even able to squeeze in a solo trail run on my favorite running trail in the woods and didn’t see another soul the whole time. ¬†It completed my Christmas to get out in the woods and quiet. ¬†My parents always make the most amazing feasts, and it was just cozy and special to be together with family.

The next morning we all went horseback riding as a family (well, except for Brandon who needed to work.) ¬†I had hoped to take more pictures but I was riding while holding Wren on my lap a bit precariously so I only snapped a few. ¬†It was adventurous and fun, and Noah, Phoebe, and Wren seemed to really love it. ¬†Philippa rode on my mom’s lap and talked the whole way and then said she hated it when were done (with a big smile on her face).

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I hope you all had a merry Christmas and may it be a blessed and happy New Year + decade!

‚̧

See you in 2020!

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas, friends, family, and readers.  I so appreciate your following along with me here, your comments and support, encouragement and friendship.  I love sharing bits and pieces of our daily ordinary lives here with you through out the year.  Today, we are worn out after a fun, sweet and chaotic Christmas morning.  My heart is tender, thinking on the indescribable gift of God, Jesus, who made a way for us to come to Him in whatever place we may find ourselves.  We need a Savior, and He gave us our greatest need.  How will He not also along with Him freely give us all things?  What rest there is in that truth.

Wishing you all a beautiful Christmas time, that He would reveal Himself specifically to you and me both today, and bless us with His presence.

XO
Martha

December hush and December busy

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The tree was cut, a wreath was made, decorations slowly placed around the home. ¬†Room was made for Christmas decorations, room made in our hearts, too, for meditating on the Christ-child, the Savior born to us. ¬†There was early morning tree decorating before daddy left for work, because the children just couldn’t go another day without decorating the tree. ¬†There were out-of-town grandparents who came to take Philippa to ride the Polar Express train, and to bring birthday/Christmas gifts for the grandchildren. ¬†(Their grandma crocheted them each a special blanket with their favorite colors and special embellishments for each child like horses, phoebe flowers, dragons, and sail boats.) ¬†We visited the local historic train museum with the grandparents as well and the children were fascinated with the huge train tables. ¬†There were many practices for the Christmas pageant, then two performances, as well as choir practice and then a Christmas concert. ¬†Then we finished up our last day of school, and this week our last round of piano practice and tutoring for Phoebe for the rest of the year. ¬†I’m finishing the last rounds of shopping and preparing for birthdays and Christmas. ¬†Only a few more days now until Christmas is upon us. ¬†I’m thankful for the busy bursts of activity and the beautiful gatherings, feasting, and celebrating. ¬†I’m thankful, too, for the quiet end of it all, the unhurried mornings staying late in our pajamas, with creative messes all around and extra cups of coffee. ¬†I’m thankful for the daily advent readings, the singing of all the Christmas songs, the holy ache for the Savior to return and the ceaseless marveling that He came to us in the first place. ¬†I can’t believe how quickly this month flies by now, when as a child I remember it dragging on so long. ¬†I miss those childish days where the world was bright and new, full of wonder. ¬†May we all recapture a bit of that this season and enjoy a restful and worshipful remainder of 2019. ¬†Noah’s birthday is on Friday and then the holy-days are upon us soon after. ¬†I’ll pop in here before year’s end I hope. ¬†Sending warm wishes and love to each of you!

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. 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.