a bit of this and that

Fall is in full swing and I’m so grateful. It is the best time of year, the very best weather with the happiest seasons ahead of harvest, Thanksgiving, a slew of children’s birthdays (in this house) and Christmas. This year I planted a few fall plants in the garden, but the energy and sense of urgency is so different for me in the fall. I’ve hardly tended to them and I’m not sure that they’ll do much. I planted a variety of greens (arugula, spinach, mustard greens, collards), some turnips, beets, and butternut squash. I planted more Bachelor’s buttons, too. I have some bulbs I need to get in the ground, snowdrop and crocus. I’m already looking forward to seeing them come up in early spring. The zinnias are on their last leg, but I’m still cutting blooms. The marigolds are finally really producing and I’ve been collecting and drying them, Philippa helping to string them into a garland (inspired by Ginny Sheller). I’m in the mood to dye some yarn but not sure that I’ll actually get around to it these busy days.

Our old oven died this summer. Thankfully, we have a home warranty to help replace appliances but it was quite a long time before we had a working oven again. If there was ever a good time for the oven to go out, it would be in the middle of summer but still it was a huge inconvenience for a family that eats pretty much 100% from home. I’m so happy with the one we chose and can’t believe the difference after working with a very, very old oven for so long. The kids were mostly excited about the box from the oven and it brought hours of play. A win for all, I suppose. Actually, once I was able to bake cookies, bread, and pizza again they were all very happy with the new appliance, too.

Rainy October afternoons have been filled with things like painting, reading books, playing lots of chess and checkers, making forts with all the pillows. While they’re busy making messes, I’m busy trying to bring some order to our days. Did you see those nice homeschool shelves neatly tidied? I’m too tired to hunt for a “before” picture, but I promise you it’s a great improvement. I’ve also managed to finally reorganize Phoebe and Philippa’s bedroom, tidying toys on shelves that Brandon built and condensing their two dressers down into one. Sometimes you have to shop your house and look for solutions to small space organizing, and in this case I think it worked out well. The girls now have my dresser and I have Phoebe’s. I plan to sell Philippa’s along with the crib that matches it (which Wren is more than ready to move out of). Noah and Wren’s room needs some de-cluttering next.

We’ve been really enjoying having my brother and his wife and son in town for a few weeks (staying with my parents nearby). We went last week to our favorite nursery with a real pumpkin patch to get some pumpkins. I wanted some fun pink, green, and white pumpkins to decorate our front porch. Of course the tractors were a big attraction for our crew. We went to this same patch last year but there seemed to be less pumpkins to cut in the patch this time. No matter, it’s just fun to let the kids run around and explore and hunt for one good pumpkin to carve. I love walking through the nursery, so we found what we needed there, and the kids did cut their own carving pumpkin from the patch. I’m settling into the season with all the beauty, crispness, and refreshing it seems to bring. Tomorrow we leave to go out of town for a few days and I’m so looking forward to enjoying the turning leaves and some quiet respite from our home and busy routines. I love this season of being home and busy raising these four little people, I love the rhythms and even the busy full days. But time away is so rare and so needed, this year more than ever.

a background of beauty

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It’s hard to believe it is the last week of October.  This month is slipping by so quickly, this shoulder month when days flicker between feeling summery and wintry.  We play outside so much during this month and want to soak up every minute of it.  The way the light seems somehow richer, golden, playful.  The sound of the dry leaves clattering to the ground, the crisp air, pumpkins sprinkled everywhere.  I’m slowly trying to make headway on home projects, mainly getting more organized inside our home.  I’ve struggled to feel at home here, and I’m eager to hang pictures and find homes for every little thing, making sense of the space we have.  Something in me longs to make a beautiful, simple, and inviting home for my family and also anyone else who comes into our home.  It often feels overrun by the chaos of books and papers, toys and random articles of clothing that have been dispensed of.  Such is life with small children, but still we can’t give up entirely.  Children inherently love cozy–waking with tousled hair and pulling a chair up by the fire in the early morning dark.  Happily digging through the bin of winter hats and gloves and finding their old favorites once again.  Setting up little homes outside and in, building forts in with fallen limbs and creating elaborate block fortresses.  I think of these words from Edith Schaeffer:

In spite of wilting leaves after a period of time, the memory of that table is as vivid as if it had painted on canvas.  Indeed, the memory of even short-lived beauty makes it worthwhile to take time and energy to provide a background of beauty for the human relationships developing in your home.  Children growing up in an atmosphere where beauty is considered an important part of daily life cannot help being inspired to develop their own original ideas in these areas, nor can they help being prepared to live aesthetically themselves.

-The Hidden Art of Homemaking

The reality is life isn’t always beautiful, even in our own homes where we long to create a haven and a rest from the cruel and dark world.  So this work is hard, plodding, slow, marked by repentance and effort and dependence on God.

This year we’ve done some of our usual fall traditions: picking apples, visiting a farm, painting pumpkins, leaf rubbings.  What are some of your favorite fall traditions?  I’m slowly getting back into my knitting rhythms, so very happily.  I’ve cast on for Philippa’s birthday sweater (her birthday is one month from today!) with that lovely shepherd’s wool, and I have so many ideas for each of the kid’s birthdays and christmas this year.  Brandon (with the help of my dad) brought home a free play gym that they disassembled from a neighbor’s yard, and we have plans to reassemble and fix it up soon as part of the children’s christmas present.  Many projects on the go, many still to come, while we spend our days doing school, reading books, collecting and making pretty things.  The very best time of year is still to come, and I’m wanting to clear our home and hearts, preparing and making room for the happiest season of celebrating birthdays and Christmas.

Leaves are Falling

It’s hard to believe it’s nearly the end of October.  We’ve had a very busy week, but here are some moments from the last day or two captured.  The leaves are turning and the higher winds this week are blowing many off the trees prematurely, it seems.  We’ve been enjoying chilly afternoon walks in this beauty!

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