a february birthday

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Brandon’s birthday fell on a Monday this year, so we planned for him to do some fun things over the weekend to celebrate.  He did a long trail run in nearby Dupont Forest for most of the day on Saturday.  Sunday he took Noah fishing on a nearby river for the day.  I was happy for him to get out and have lots of time doing the things he loves outside.  Monday we had a very full and busy day planned but I woke up that morning to a spinning world.  Every once in a while I have vertigo and it hasn’t happened in a couple of years but it hit me that Monday.  I was so bummed because not only did we have a full day of homeschool co-op and piano lessons, but it was also Brandon’s birthday.  My mom came to help for the day as I couldn’t get out of bed/sit up without everything spinning.  I didn’t think to take dramamine until a little later, and it did seem to help (though my mom picked up a “natural” kind which was just straight ginger root).  Thank goodness for moms, right?!  Anyway, in the early afternoon I managed to pull myself out of bed to try to make Brandon’s cheesecake as I knew it would have to sit for a few hours before serving.  As I began to move around the vertigo slowly lifted.  Usually it lasts for a few hours for me so this was a longer day of it, but I was just grateful it lifted.  It’s amazing what a blessing normal functioning is!

The children were so happy to see me up and able to move around and Phoebe helped to make daddy’s birthday cake.  He loves cherry pie but my kids don’t really like pie and Brandon isn’t really picky, so we made a cheesecake instead with my own cherry topping.  For the topping I basically used a bag of frozen cherries, juice from half a lemon, about a 1/2 c. of honey, 1 c. water, and a couple teaspoons of arrowroot powder as a thickener.  It was really delicious, even Phoebe liked it and she is my pickiest.

Philippa asked to decorate the table for daddy’s birthday which was very helpful as I felt still so brain-foggy.  She did a lovely job.  Brandon was truly surprised to see his hand knit sweater and I think it fits just right (though when I gave it to him I hadn’t had time to block it yet).  The “children” gave him a jigsaw which he was very happy with.  I have in mind an item or two he could make for me now that he has it. 🙂  Noah gave him a little notebook/journal he had kept with notes and drawings in it while they had been out fishing.  Phoebe gave him a little woven item.  All in all, I think he was quite spoiled this birthday which we well-deserves.

We had a little bit more snow this past weekend and so enjoyed it.  I’m grateful for any wintry weather!  I convinced Brandon to let me get a couple pictures of him in the sweater, which did take some convincing since he doesn’t love being in front of the camera.  (He’s also wearing a hat I knit for him awhile ago.)

joy in january

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And then the last of January comes, and with it our first blanket of snow for the winter.  We throw our usual morning work to the side and bundle up in layer upon layer for this special and rare occurrence in North Carolina.  When the snow comes, you might as well get out and enjoy it because by day’s end it will likely be gone.

So the first month of the year stretches long and quiet, maybe even a bit dull — but it ends in joy.

JOY… maybe my word for this new year, and not because I’m feeling it but precisely because I’m not.  Last year was shadowed over with a lot of heartache and sorrow, things I cannot share here because it involves other people, stories that haven’t finished playing out yet.  But I’ve spent too much time in that sorrow and maybe it’s time to put away the effect of other people’s brokenness and broken choices and move on into joy.  I don’t want to miss the beauty and joy that is here even now.  I have been given so much, blessed beyond measure, and I choose to see and focus on that.

Only God is able to turn our mourning into dancing.  And He is sufficiently able!

He sends the snow from His storehouse and it covers all this old familiar territory with sparkling clean white and just like that, everything is new again.  And we are dancing in the freshness of it, reminded of a great God who washes us white as snow.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Isaiah 1:18

 

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. 🙂  I’m thinking about another Camilla Babe sweater in my own hand-dyed worsted eco yarn dyed with marigold.

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!

tucking in

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The first heavy frost came last week, this week the first snow flurries and frigid temps.  We’ve finished up the last few projects outdoors.  Brandon and I (mainly Brandon) worked on laying this stone walkway from our driveway to the back porch over the course of three weeks.  Sometimes it’s silly how long it takes us to get things done, but its not for lack of trying.  It’s just life in this season with a lot to juggle and a lot of interruptions.  We really love the finished product!  It’s always exciting to make improvements (though ever so slowly for us) to our little home.

I trimmed back bushes last week and raked up as many leaves as I could one morning then spread it over the garden.  The children have been enjoying any sunny warm weather they can, though those days may be behind us now.  How quickly these warm fall days give way to frost and bleak, barren limb.

Also, Phoebe has been singing weekly with a choir called Viva Voce and lately they’ve had a couple of performances.  These photos were from her first performance in a church nearby.  I can’t tell you how proud I am to hear her sing, and she loves it so.  Our mornings are full with school work, our afternoons are mostly full now with activities and I am running around ferrying children to and fro.  It is good, busy, and I’m a bit looking forward to a long break from school work in December.

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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)