a Thanksgiving birthday

DSC_0005DSC_0010DSC_0011DSC_0012DSC_0013DSC_0019DSC_0022DSC_0027DSC_0024DSC_0031DSC_0032DSC_0033DSC_0040DSC_0041DSC_0043DSC_0048DSC_0049DSC_0053DSC_0054DSC_0055DSC_0056DSC_0061DSC_0065DSC_0067DSC_0069DSC_0071DSC_0072DSC_0074DSC_0076DSC_0081DSC_0082DSC_0090DSC_0091DSC_0093DSC_0096DSC_0099DSC_0102DSC_0105DSC_0107 (1)DSC_0111 (1)DSC_0112 (1)DSC_0113DSC_0114 (1)DSC_0115 (1)DSC_0116 (1)DSC_0117DSC_0118DSC_0119DSC_0122DSC_0123DSC_0126

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.


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.

a (late) birthday letter


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 ❤



we celebrate


Have you missed my posts just about our ordinary days?  I have.  There is lots of writing happening in my head, so much writing, so many things being learned and processed, but so little time to put pen to paper these days.

My heart needed to reflect on a little celebrating today.  The day before Philippa’s birthday we drove my oldest daughter, Phoebe, to Brenner’s Children Hospital in Winston Salem, NC to their celiac center.  We are about a year and a half into this diagnosis and life change, but we haven’t seen the progress we should be seeing in Phoebe, and it is time for a second opinion.  So they day before Philippa’s birthday was spent driving 5 or so hours, and meeting with doctors, lots of talking about health history and numbers and bloodwork.  Ironically, the day before I wrote this post we spent driving back and forth once again to Winston Salem for a two-week follow-up.  The news about where Phoebe is and how she’s doing isn’t good, and my heart is heavy today.  More testing ahead, surgeries, biopsies.  More blood work.  As any momma will tell you, it is so hard to go through a thing like this with your child.  You’d rather it be you any day than them.  How can you answer their questions about why God has allowed this and why He doesn’t take it away?  These are the things that break your heart.

Yet squished in between these appointments and my momma’s heart revolving around all of this with Phoebe, a little girl turned TWO.  How good of God, how appropriate of God to call us to celebrate and feast and give gifts in the very middle of our hard moments.  He knows our form, He remembers that we are dust, He knows our frailty, and He knows that when we turn our hearts to rejoice and celebrate and feast, it really can tune our attention to all His manifold goodness.

And so, again today, as I try to catch up on pictures and happenings in our family, my heavy heart looks over these pictures of my littlest one and smiles.  She is such a stinker.  She was in the WORST mood OF HER LIFE on her birthday.  I have no idea why but she really may have spent every waking moment crying or whining.  We made her cake in the morning that day, then ran some errands.  I let Phoebe and Noah each pick out a dollar gift for her from Target’s dollar spot.  Noah bought her a little wooden firetruck, Phoebe bought her a few sheets of Elsa/Anna stickers.  Later they wrapped their gifts to her and made cards.  I really love encouraging them to give gifts to one another because as we all know, it really is better to give than to receive.  It’s so fun to wrap up a gift and then watch the recipient open it with delight.  And because what mother doesn’t shamelessly force encourage her kids to like one another?  After naps, Philippa watched me ice her chocolate cake with “spinkles” (her request–they tasted horrible) and licked the icing off the spatula.  She couldn’t wait to open her gifts once she saw them so Noah let her open his early.  Poor thing, having to wait all day for celebrations!

My parents came for dinner and we sang her happy birthday and had cake and ice cream.  She opened gifts, a rocking horse from my parents which she loved so much she didn’t much care about her other gifts.  Should have saved that one for last. 😉  We got her a set of little letter blocks, and a stuffed peppa pig that talks when she squeezes it because she adores peppa.  When she opened the sweater I knit her she screamed “NO!” and chucked it behind her.  But I still love her and she will WEAR IT ANYWAY.  As you can see, I forced her  she wore it happily the next morning and I snapped a few pictures of her in it.  Once in a better mood she has enjoyed it more.  It is a bit bigger on her than I thought it would be so I may be able to get two winters out of it (woohoo!).  I really do want to knit the same sweater for myself, such a soft and rustic wool, very warm and cozy.

My mom surprised the kids with a “singing machine” recently, too, and that has been the biggest hit around here.  She gave a new pack of Adventures in Odyssey CDs, and they have been listening non stop.  The microphone is making all of Phoebe’s dreams come true, and thankfully I can send them all to the basement where the cacophony is muffled nicely.

Anyway, I’m thankful that life is a peculiar mix of joy and pain, that God calls us to celebrate and rejoice over His good gifts even when we’re having a bad day or a hard year.  As I read in Ann Voskamps’ advent book this morning:

“Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian.”
-G.K. Chesterton

There is so much joy to be had in Him even in the hard times.  I hope wherever you find yourself today, you can find your way back to joy in Him.  Our circumstances are unstable, as uncertain as shifting sand, but He remains unchanging.  Hallelujah!

for my feisty girl


Two years ago today, this little feisty bundle with a shock of black hair came into our lives. You looked at me fiercely with grumpy little eyes when I first looked at you, already trying to boss me around.  You wanted to nurse and you wanted it NOW.  You haven’t stopped bossing since.

Philippa, you are full of vim and passion and zest for life.  You love a good party, and you love to make everyone laugh.  At two years old you now have a head full of white blonde hair.  In the mornings I hear you yelling, “Mom!  Momma!” from your crib when you’re ready to get up.  You come running out and there’s no time for snuggling.  Quickly you busy yourself playing with brother or sister.  You love “can-cakes” for breakfast and you call your water bottle your “coffee.”  You love to go outside and “ho-high” on the swing all by yourself, pushing away our hands if we try to help you on the stairs.  The best moments are when you grab my face with your chubby hands and turn it roughly to the side so you can plant a big “tiss” on my cheek.  Or when you wrap your squishy arms around my neck and say “hold on ti-ight!”  Your snuggles are far and few between, but they are truly the best and your daddy and I live to sneak them in.  Whoever you have in the moment is your favorite and you couldn’t possibly even deign to look at the other parent.

I miss our nighttime nursings, but love that we’ve traded them in for rocking in the chair, reading board books that you toddle over to me, while you suck your thumb and we sing hymns and little songs that you love.  I love, love to hear you pray–“Dear Gah.. thank you for Noah” you always start with.

If you can’t tell, sweet girl, your daddy and I are just smitten with you.  You can be feistier than Phoebe and Noah combined, if you want to be, but you are just as capable of equal measures of sweetness.  Today at two years old, you have been grumpier than usual, and I wonder if we are entering those “terrible twos,” but thankfully, we have had a go at this twice before.  We engage it with a lot more laughter this time around and hopefully a lot more grace.  That’s the benefit of being baby #3.

We love you so so much, precious little biddle-e-dee, and always will forever and ever no matter what.  You are one of the greatest treasures + joys of our earthly lives.  We pray for you every day to know Jesus and love Him and use all your passion and headstrong ways for His name and His kingdom.  We can’t wait to see what this next year holds in store for you and we hope you have a very happy birthday!