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

snow for a week

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Last week we had the biggest snow we’ve potentially had in many years here in North Carolina, and we personally had close to 16 inches.  It stayed on the ground for most of last week and today is the first day we’ve really seen the sun and the ground since then.  Everyone enjoyed it so much and somehow we managed to have electricity throughout the entire storm, while many of our neighbors went for days without power.  It was neat seeing the neighborhood pull together to help one another, checking in on the elderly and those without power and offering to help where needed.  We enjoyed a lot of time out in the snow and also keeping our hands busy inside with a few crafts like stringing up dried oranges for garlands both inside and out (for the birds), paper snowflakes, cookie making, painting, christmas movies, etc.  It’s been good to take a break from our usual school work to make time for these activities and just being together, but of course it isn’t perfect.  We still have a lot of bickering and momma getting frustrated with the soggy layers all over the floor and the messes everywhere I turn, but it has been good just the same.  I’m such a work in progress when it comes to patience and grace with my children, and I’m making a concerted effort to do things together this holiday season that are fun for them even if they’re a bit stressful for me.

We went to the Christmas pageant at our church, and we went to our small local mall to send off a package and walk around (i.e.: let the children run and blow off some pent up energy) and happened to visit with Santa while we were there.  I think it’s the first time any of my kids have sat on Santa’s lap and given their Christmas requests.  It was pretty cute and we had some good conversation afterwards, and I remembered so many visits to the mall with my family during Christmas time when I was growing up.

Yesterday we went into downtown Asheville for a Christmas brunch with my family that’s local, since we all help with my dad’s remodeling business in one way or another.  We usually eat out (when we do eat out together) at Posana’s restaurant because it has an entirely gluten-free kitchen and it’s one place we feel safe letting Phoebe eat.  It is a huge treat, thank you mom and dad!  It was windy and cold, but still fun to walk all around and see the Christmas decorations.  Phoebe wanted to take a picture of me (I’m wearing my Timber cardigan and Campside shawl!) and I’m thankful she did, even if I don’t love being in front of the camera.

Over the weekend we went to the annual open house at our favorite pottery place in Brevard, NC and then visited with our old neighbors there for a few hours which was such a treat.  (Elizabeth, if you’re reading, you know I’m talking about your grandparents!) 🙂

Evenings during Advent are spent gathered around our advent wreath, coloring ornaments for the Jesse tree as we read through Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.  Last night we lit the “joy” candle and it’s hard to believe we are just a few days away from Christmas.  Noah turns six on Thursday, Phoebe turns eight on Sunday and then Christmas is upon us.  It’s going to be a very full week ahead!

I hope you’re staying cozy and warm, enjoying these last few days of anticipation.

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. 🙂  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!

waiting

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It’s that time where I start to get texts and inquiries from people, where neighbors walk by and holler, “you still here?” and all those last minute projects feel so terribly crucial.  Every day it seems I make a little bit of progress mentally in checking things off my list to be ready for baby.  I’m just a few days away from my due date, but I’m feeling more peaceful about it all than I have with any of my other pregnancies.  Thats a gift from the Lord!  I had a ton of anxiety going into my birth with Philippa after such a traumatic delivery and recovery with Noah.  Because her birth went so much better, I’m feeling more at peace with how this one will go.  Of course, I say that and that could change as soon as labor actually begins!  Pray for me and with me that I would remain at peace, fixed and focused, and full of joy.  I’ve just been feeling more joy and excitement to meet this little one than anything else.  I’m treasuring these last days with her moving around quietly inside, knowing I may never experience this again.  And I’m enjoying good nights of solid rest, knowing those will evade me soon for some weeks.

I appreciate the little bursts of energy and motivation I have some days to get things accomplished that have been waiting for attention for months.  Reorganizing the open shelving in our kitchen.  Hanging new light fixtures as well as treasured photos that have been sitting in boxes since we moved in.  Giving all the kids hair cuts on the porch, and wishing I could squeeze in one for myself.  (I’m desperate enough to be tempted to cut my own.)  I love seeing the little basinet in our bedroom when I glance down the hall, knowing it will have new life in it again soon.  This new little person we don’t know yet, but soon won’t be able to imagine our lives without.  The bursts of energy do help to get projects done, but usually they are followed by days of increased tiredness.  It’s just the rhythm for now, and I’m being gentle with myself in it, for the most part.

Phoebe and I are still working diligently on school, but I can feel myself losing steam and motivation there.  Brandon is starting to take her to her weekly co-op so I can stay home with the littles and the change of schedule is a little weird for us, but also really neat to have him more involved in her schooling.  It’ll only be short-term as I recover from birth and keep the baby home for the first number of weeks.  My parents treated us to a really fancy date the other night, maybe the nicest restaurant we’ve ever eaten at, and we talked so much about our kids and schooling.  His thoughts and observations were really fun to hear and helpful to me, and made me feel like he’s getting a peek into my “work” that helps him understand a bit more of my world.  I love that he’s interested and truly enjoys doing schooling with Phoebe when he gets the chance, and that he has ideas and excitement for our future in it with all the kids.

My parents also gifted us a new BOB stroller which is so generous and helpful, and when they were watching the kids during our date the other night, they all brainstormed name ideas and wrote them all over the box.  Super cute, and I wanted to snap a picture of it so we don’t forget.  We still haven’t 100% decided on a name, I have literally so many I love (few that Brandon approves of, though), and I think as usual we’ll just need to meet her and see what fits.  But don’t give me suggestions!!  We want to name this little one. 🙂

This week has been up in the mid-seventies and sunny here in NC, and it feels so odd to me to be ready to welcome a baby in such weather!  All my babies thus far have been born in the deep middle of winter.  It’s fun and different this time.  I have a feeling this little one wants a March birthday.  I’ll keep you posted, but know that it may be quieter around the blog for a little bit!