back in the swing of things

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It’s quiet enough in the house to hear the faint trickling of water in the gutters, snow melting from our rooftop after days of blanketing the ground.  We don’t normally keep snow for a few consecutive days in these North Carolina mountains, but the temps have been low enough, giving us days of sledding and soggy peeled off boots and layers piled by the door.  I haven’t posted yet about Christmas.  I haven’t posted my new year reflections and hopes.  I haven’t been reading much this week.  I had a migraine that’s lasted for about four days.  It seems to be on its way out today, just barely there.  Phoebe has been on an extremely restricted diet as of Sunday, and my days and mental capacity have been filled with getting back into the swing of homeschooling and feeding her.  I’m spending hours in the kitchen every day just trying to keep up and come up with ways to get her to eat.  It’s going better than I expected, but it’s a lot of work, so not much margin left for other things.  I miss this space and blogging and hope to catch up on those posts soon.  Do any of you still care to even see Christmas pictures? 🙂

I have, however, been knitting because I crave knitting for my sanity!  It is so peaceful, so unwinding.  During the snowstorm I cast on a few new items.  What is it about falling snow that makes one want to cast on and knit everything??  I’m trying to force myself to finish Noah’s sweater and stay focused.  All it needs now is the buttonhole placket which I hope to finish tonight, then sewing on buttons.  I have so so loved knitting with Shelter and have so loved this pattern that it is a little bittersweet to be on the last few rows of it.  I plan to knit him a hat with the one leftover skein, as he requested.  I can’t wait to wrap it up and let him open it.  I really want to knit mitts and slippers for each of the kids, too.  And cowls!  And hats!  Before winter is over!  🙂

Linking up with Ginny’s yarn along today to share what I’m currently knitting + reading.

first snow

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Here in the mountains of North Carolina we gladly welcomed our first big snow of the year last night.  It’s still coming down in huge flakes as I write.  We had a cozy morning taking it slow and then took like an H O U R to bundle everyone and get outside.  This is the first snow Philippa can play in and potentially remember.  One of the best parts of raising kids is getting to see them discover the world.  SO fun.  We took her on the craziest sledding hill ever and she loved it!  As did the other kids.  Until they didn’t, and everyone was thoroughly wet and soaked and there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  But hey, that’s par for the course.  Everyone recovered their sanity after hot chocolates and getting cozy by the fire.

This week has been a heavy week here, emotionally.  A lot of friends and loved ones going through a lot of difficult things, and my heart has literally been aching on and off this week, grief rolling over me in waves, as grief tends to do.  Tears coming unbidden at inconvenient times.  Playing in the snow this morning, seeing the world blanketed in white, seeing it look fresh and new… it is a gift to me from the Lord.  A quietness settles over our little corner of the world, broken only by children’s squeals and laughter, and we are soaking up every glorious second of it, even in the face of grief.  Maybe we just needed the reminder that storms can bring glory as well as grief, beauty in spite of the bitter.  Maybe we just needed to see that a storm can be the way God chooses to make all things new.

outside + in

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We’ve been really enjoying a lot of family time lately, and since the winter weather has been so crazy mild here we’ve been outside a good bit.  My youngest brother was visiting after Christmas and we took the kids hiking on Graybeard trail in Montreat where Brandon and I spent so many of our college days hiking and exploring.

Noah also got his first fishing pole for Christmas and was so excited to go fishing with Daddy on the lake in our neighborhood.  He caught his first fish, too!

Last weekend we were able to take an impromptu trip to South Carolina to visit Brandon’s parents as they are prepping their house to put it on the market.  We had such a relaxing and quiet/restful weekend with them.  The kids absolutely love them and their house.  Noah had his first opportunity to sleep in a big boy room set up just for him, and he did so well and was so excited about it being just for boys.  He and Phoebe seem to love sharing a room but I’m thinking he may be getting ready for his own space and it may be time to move the girls in together.  All the kids are obsessed with the grandparents’ dogs, which are tiny little mikki’s.  Philippa kept calling them “ba-ba,” which is her word for baby.  Brandon and I were able to get out for a good run together while the kids napped on Sunday.  I was able to spend hours knitting.  We were all a bit sad to say goodbye, and when we pulled into our neighborhood late Sunday night Phoebe and Noah both started whimpering and Noah said “I hate home.”  So apparently, they had a great time. 🙂

This week has been colder, we even saw some flurries earlier in the week!  I realize I’ve been really feeling off without a good cold winter and no signs of snow.  As much as I am savoring the milder weather with little ones who get cooped up indoors, it just feels so strange to see wisteria blooming and daffodils springing up through the dirt in January.  I read on a friend’s blog a week or so ago that “winter is a time for dreaming” and I’ve thought about it so often since.   think it’s important for us to have a season where we are forced to live more quiet, small, and slow because the days are short and cold.  It’s been a hard week, in some ways, working on a lot of projects, cleaning, and our budget (read: gag me with ruffage).  But Brandon did surprise me on New Year’s Eve with those sweet pink roses.  And there has been time for reading hand-written cards and knitting baby socks.  So life is good.

 “winter is the time for comfort,
for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:
it is the time for home.”
– edith sitwell

and for knitting + reading + watching “When Calls the Heart” + “Life Below Zero,” I might add.

Happy wintering, friends!

oh, december!

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Lots of life happens in this month!  These are just a few random snapshots from decorating with the kids, which is more fun every year as they get more excited about family traditions, and a recent visit to a local attraction, the Biltmore Estate, with my mom.  If only I could have taken pictures inside, it is so beautifully decorated for Christmas!  But it was nice to just soak it in with the kids.  I haven’t been inside the House since I was a little girl, what a crazy thing it is to visit and to imagine living there.  The kids thought it was a castle, which it sort of is.  I look at it differently now, after Downton Abbey. 🙂 Also, our weather here has been uncharacteristically warm, which we are enjoying but it just feels weird.  I’m ready for snow and storms and blustery wind and knitting cozy by the fire.  In the meantime, we are trying to play outside as much as we can and make the most of it.

settling into winter

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We’ve been happily busy with lots of THIS lately.  My older brother + his sweet family have been in town, and we’re so enjoying having the opportunity to be with them.  I’m loving the chance to get to know my nephew a bit and it is precious to me to see all the cousins play together and build little bonds.  I know from my own childhood years how special cousin relationships can be!  It’s like having extra siblings.  And I’m thankful for more time getting to know my sister-in-law and reconnecting.  Our hearts are full!

The leaves are mostly off the trees, a cold front moved in with a wild gust last night, and we’re settling into winter slowly.  Things can begin to look dark + barren, like the black-eyed susan stalks, shooting their bald heads into iron sky.  All can seem lost, empty.  Yet hidden within that flower’s cone are all the seeds for next year’s flower, each cone containing dozens of potentially viable seeds.  All this glory and beauty and light bottled up in that dark little bumpy-looking ball, just waiting for the right conditions in which to burst forth.  The same stalks that wave cheery yellow wildflowers in the summer, we pass by, or even trample underfoot in these winter months, assuming it’s all dead anyway.  Winter is full of promise and waiting and hope in small, hidden places.  There is all manner of beauty in those barren places, if we’ll look.  There is all manner of potential.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope.” (Psalm 130:5)

From Today

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We were surprised with a decent snow (for our neck of the woods) this morning!  It’s a sweet reminder to me that God is always working, even while we’re sleeping, covering the old with something new, giving us the gift of a fresh start and new mercies every morning.  I’m grateful for the delight of snow on this otherwise ordinary Tuesday.  Though we’re still battling some sniffly noses and aching ears over here (please, germs, go away!), we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get out for a little bit and play in it!

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For those of you to whom it’s relevant, happy snow day!

winter: looking hard for hope

Sometimes the barrenness and deadness of winter gets to me.  In the gray and brown bleakness it can seem that all beauty and life has faded from the world.  The daylight shortens, the cold sets in, the life and bounty of summer shrivel into shades of brown, crisp papers carrying forgotten stories.  And the winds blow the weightless shreds away.

And what is underneath are the skeletons.  They have their own stories to tell.  They have their own beauty to proclaim.  From a distance and from a quick scan, it all looks like death.  You have to look harder, listen closer.  Slow down and draw near to really see.

Sometimes it’s good to just go out and search for it, to see in order to remember:

There is beauty here.  There is life here, contained, ready to combust.  There is hope here.

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