Give a girl a bouquet of flowers and she’ll know just what to do. This little sweater for Wren was a knit I have planned for her last winter but time got away from me. It is the old growth sweater, slightly modified to omit the leaf/tree lace motif. I knit it in Ozetta’s beautiful soft and sheepy 100% Columbian wool. It will be very warm I think, though she will need a little something for her neck since the neckline of the garment is a bit open. I sewed buttons on this morning, albeit a bit crookedly. She couldn’t wait to wear it. The mornings have grown chilly and cool here, but it is still not quite sweater weather. We pulled a few zinnias from the garden, drying as they wane at summer’s end, still so beautiful. She walked barefoot out to the big maple where the sunlight fell softly through the shade and she let me snap these pictures. I will treasure them forever not because of the sweater but because I sure do adore this beautiful, feisty, sweet little girl.
After watching all her siblings’ birthdays come and go this past winter, Wren has been wondering and asking regularly when it will finally be her turn. A few weeks ago as I was getting her dressed she begged, “Momma now can you make my buth-day? Because I’m bigger!” She has randomly asked me to make her “buth-day” a few times and I eventually came to understand she was talking about her cake. More than even her presents, she was excited about that cake. 🙂 The big day finally came last week. It’s hard to acknowledge that my little baby is really not a baby anymore, but a chatting, funny, mischievous three-year-old who is eager to keep up with her older brother and sisters. I sweetly reminisced on her birth, what a joyful and quiet time it was enjoying her arrival. She has brought such laughter and fun to our family these past three years in part because the older children have been old enough to really enjoy having a baby to carry around and take care of. They have enjoyed all her stages of growth and development just as Brandon and I have.
She wanted cereal for her birthday breakfast, and she was excited to see the balloon and bunny decorations. Afterwards she opened her gifts before daddy went to work. Her birthday sweater was the first thing she opened! I had stayed up until almost midnight the night prior finishing the last sleeve, weaving in ends and sewing on the two buttons. No time to block it, but she wouldn’t notice. (Now that I have blocked it, it looks better!) She wanted it on right away and has worn it most days since then. Very sweet girl to her mommy and very knit-worthy.
We gifted her a new backpack since the one she has been using isn’t very big or useful for hiking, and she’s starting to want to wear her backpack like the older kids when we go for hikes. We gave her a small journal with beeswax crayons in a little tin for her backpack travels. The best gifts are the ones they want to start using right away, and true to form she cracked open that tin and started coloring right away in her journal. We gave her The Story of the Orchestra: Carnival of Animals book because she loves this series so much. She was truly delighted! We also gave her the Our Little Adventures book set because it is beautiful, simple, and has bunnies and other forest creatures in it. She also received a new dress (called the wren dress), a sweet bunny pillow that I couldn’t resist from Target, a wooden animal/alphabet puzzle that she has enjoyed (and the other kids, too!), as well as a toy dragon (because for better or worse, all of my kids are obsessed with these dragons). Brandon’s parents gifted her with a sit-and-spin also.
My mom and the little guy she nannies (who is now a good friend to my kiddos) came over later in the morning and we made a trip out to Carl Sandburg to see the goats and go for a little walk. It was beautiful there and just starting to feel like spring, but we were bummed that the goat barn was still closed. Even still, it was a fun outing! Later, Wren finally got to have her cake. I made the same vegan carrot cake I’ve made every year for her so far (though this year I didn’t make it vegan) and it was delicious.
So it was all in all a very fun and happy day and I was sad to see it go. She is so proud to be three and bigger now, and I’m missing her little baby self but so grateful for the delight that it is to watch her grow.
Amazon links are affiliate links.
Our wren wren. How can it be? This year with you has been so sweet. Also, spicy. As you grow you are learning to exert yourself, learning what you like and what you don’t. One thing you became very attached to early on in your life was your bunny, a gift from a family friend. Nothing comforts you like bunny. So we thought your first birthday should be a bunny themed day. We can’t believe you are one and we’ve said so a million times. You are a joy to us all, everybody’s baby, and you make us all laugh with your silly faces, grumpy eyebrows, bunny love, toddling walk, and excitement for life. Happy first birthday, sweet little very.
A little bit about her day:
Friends (and my mom) came over the day before her birthday (Saturday) for a cookout, bonfire and play time. We didn’t make it about her day persay, but we did have carrot cake in her honor and a couple of gifts. On her birthday, it was just us. After church I wanted to take photos of our girl in her special birthday dress + crown, just as she is now — walking, exploring, loving being outside, chasing our kitty Rose, and keeping up with her siblings. It was good that we did because shortly thereafter it began to rain and pour for the rest of the day. When she woke up from her nap and saw her presents by the fireplace, she picked them up and started right in on them, knowing just what to do. Each of the children helped her open a gift. She opened her birthday sweater that I knit for her and she immediately bit it, as she does whenever something is soft and snuggly. She held onto it and didn’t protest a bit when I put it on her. It’s so sweet because whenever she saw me working on it she would grab the yarn (and generally she is very into my yarn anyway). We got her a bunny book and her cousin-twin Silas sent her the sweetest book about a bird named wren which made me tear up to read. Its perfect. We also bought her a pair of boiled wool overalls which will be so nice for her to wear on all her adventures outside, with the reinforced knees and bottom. They are very big on her but they will fit her throughout next winter as well! My mom bought her her first baby doll (wren can’t say her “b’s” yet so she calls it her “day-dee” instead of baby). Her big gift from us was a little piano of her very own. She is obsessed with our piano but can’t reach it or play it unless someone helps her up and then sits and makes sure she doesn’t fall off the bench, so this little piano is just her size. She has loved it so much, which is always a delight.
For her cake, I made a vegan + gluten free carrot cake which was literally maybe the best carrot cake I’ve ever had, and I topped it with new little bunnies in honor of her bunny day. 🙂 She has never had anything like cake before and she’s our first child to absolutely dig in and love her first birthday cake. It was a very special first birthday, just perfect in so many ways. And I tried not to cry and be sad about her growing so big so fast, or the fact that it might be the last first birthday we celebrate, and instead just enjoy all that is now and all that will come.
When Wren was a couple of weeks old we tried to assemble ourselves in nicer clothes, I threw on some makeup and curled my hair, and we attempted a few family photos by just propping my camera on windowsills and dressers and setting the timer. Typically family pictures result in some frustration and tears from a few kiddos, but this time it was relatively quick and surprisingly smooth. I mean, it wasn’t entirely tear-free:
But as long as Brandon randomly yelled out “snozzcumbers!” and “bellypoppers!” from the BFG book (the kid’s favorite lately), we got some good laughs and smiles. These children all love Wren so much and all want to hold her so that helped, too. Philippa and Noah wanted to take some photos with their “phones,” making clicking sound effects as they did.
Tired, puffy (me), and wrinkled though we were, I’m thankful we grabbed a few pictures to remember these early days with our March girl, these early days of becoming a family of six. Already she has grown and changed so much!
Lots of reading, snuggling, dandelion picking, school, imaginative play, and yarn taking up most of our days lately. Nursing + rock-a-bye babying too. Quiet days at home mostly, without any sort of hustle out of the house. Driving each other up the walls sometimes because of all that proximity, finding each other to be our best friends the rest of the time. With the weather warming up, we are finding ourselves outside more of the day, making garden plans, smelling the earthy scent of soil and honeysuckle on the breeze. Spring is a shoulder season, a tug-of-war between winter and summer, and lately we see both winter days and summer days, and we don’t mind either one bit.
My mind feels all over the place, too–feeling behind on garden plans and preparations while trying to stay focused on finishing our school year well. As I’m coming out of the initial recovery period after having Wren (she’s 6 weeks old tomorrow!) I feel my strength and energy returning, and we’ve been out almost daily for walks and fresh air. I find myself reminded to keep my camera in hand, snapping pictures of our ordinary moments. I find myself remembering and reorienting to who I am and what I love. Sometimes I feel like I should rename this blog “books, yarn, and babies,” because it seems I have little head space for much else. I promise more “soul” content will come soon, at least I believe it will. But even as I say that, I hear the dichotomy. I’m learning to remember that, as Gerald Manley Hopkins said,
“Christ plays in ten thousand places,Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not hisTo the Father through the features of men’s faces.”
(As Kingfishers Catch Fire)
I started this baby blanket for Wren at the end of January, and it feels just right for spring with all the lace and dusty pink. I gave it a bath last night and blocked it and can’t wait for it to dry so I can snuggle her in it! I used Quince + Co Osprey yarn which is incredibly squishy, springy, warm and soft. With it being finished, I’m eager to begin a new project. Finishing things breathes fresh air into me, feels like a clean slate.
I hope wherever you are, you are finding bits and pieces of new life, freshness, spring, and the hope it seems to bring.
We’ve gotten into this rhythm lately, after Wren’s early morning feeding. Brandon rolls out of bed in the groggy dark and heads to the kitchen, and soon after I hear my coffee percolating on the stove. These first few weeks since Wren was born, most mornings he brings it to me in bed. I forgot what a luxury this is, to have coffee brought to me in bed. He doesn’t drink coffee (he usually makes chai tea for himself in the mornings) so it’s extra special when he makes my coffee. And this is how the early mornings have been spent. Savoring how amazing strong hot coffee tastes after a night of interrupted sleep with a newborn, savoring those few quiet moments before the sunlight wakes up the rest of the children. I told Brandon the other day that coffee just didn’t taste right the whole pregnancy, but amazingly, instantly after the baby is born it goes back to tasting amazing. So weird. I’m glad to have this old friend back again.
So yes, we’ve been in the glorious exhausting newborn fog–seriously, the best of days. I have been instagramming way too many baby photos and annoying everyone, I’m sure, but getting to know this new little soul and getting to hold and enjoy her really is what fills up my days lately. Oh, this fourth time around, my perspective is quite different. I’ve found myself enjoying this season far more than I complain about it, knowing truly how fleeting it is and precious. I keep feeling absolutely shocked that I have a seven year old (!!!) and how big Noah is, how I feel like the last couple of years with him transforming from a toddler to a big kid has just flown by without me really savoring it. Everyone says this thing goes by fast, and at the beginning I didn’t really feel like it was true. But suddenly I’m starting to get it. I can’t believe how quickly 7 years of parenting has gone by, what a blink it truly has been, and the fact that those years are behind us and never can we live a day of them again nearly breaks my heart. So, I can’t complain about these newborn days. My arms ache sometimes from holding her, and I’m afraid I’ll spoil her, but I’m holding her as much as I can, as if the holding can somehow slow down time, weigh it down and make it last.
The smell of milky breath. The way newborn skin feels. All the little peach fuzz on her shoulders and back that will disappear soon. The tawny brown hairs I will soon find falling out on her blankets. The milky midnight blue newborn eyes that will soon change. The way she raises her eyebrows with wide open eyes as she focuses on me. Her papery thin little fingers that reach around for mine to hold as she nurses.
Three weeks have gone by in a blur, and I know in a few weeks time I will hardly be able to remember these early days. Brandon’s parents came the first week and his mom stayed to help me when Brandon went back to work. They brought belated Christmas gifts for the kids and they were a huge help. My parents have also been helping when they can, mom bringing me meals and coming some mornings to help with whatever needs to be done. We’ve been trying to get back into a routine a bit this week, with me cooking a bit again, cleaning, and keeping on with school with phoebe. Everything takes longer and is more interrupted than it used to be, but I’m trying to be patient with myself and everyone else, too.
She seems like a peaceful soul, our little Wren, and how is it that someone only days old can look so wise?
She was born March 3. I slept fitfully the night of March 2nd, dreaming about contractions and labor until a strong contraction woke me straight up at 3:15 am. I realized I had been contracting through the night mildly, as I had been on and off the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, but this contraction was a powerful jolt. I lay in bed for a while, resting and waiting, then decided to get up and move around, to see if labor would pick up or die off with a change of activity. I think I will probably want to remember that I cleaned bathrooms at that point, at around 4 am. The house was mostly clean and ready so I had to find something to do. I figured a last minute clean to get it ready for my parents would be a good idea anyway (they would be staying with our kids at our house while we were in the hospital). I folded laundry, organized, whatever I could, while breathing through contractions.
By 5 am I woke Brandon and said it was time to get moving. I felt like it was still early to tell, but I didn’t want to wait too long. I had such a traumatic difficult labor with Noah that I’m always ancy now to get to the hospital quickly and have help on hand rather than wait too late. I let my parents know to head over as well, and we began to pack up the car. As we were getting ready to go, our “getaway” car (we were leaving the van for my parents to use with car seats in it for the other kids) wouldn’t start. I was pacing at the door in the dark, breathing and laughing a bit to myself–of course the car wouldn’t start now. We took my mom’s car when they arrived and all was well. We live about 10 minutes from the hospital so it was a quick drive over. I wasn’t as far along as I had hoped I would be when I arrived, but I progressed almost to full dilation within an hour. At this point I got the epidural, which was truly amazing. Actually I think it was a spinal block? but I can’t remember. All I know is that it is the craziest thing to have experienced natural child birth and then to experience the miracle of meds! Both have been wonderful experiences. However, after delivering Noah naturally (at 9 lb 8 oz) and having hours of hemorrhaging afterwards and all the work/meds they had to do to stop the hemorrhage without any pain meds as well as a separated pelvis, I have been too terrified to do it again. I felt guilty about getting the epidural with Philippa but this time, I felt more at peace about it. And this experience was, again, amazing. I was just about in transition when I got it, so to go from that chaos to total peaceful calm was truly incredible. The doctor kept saying things like “we’ll have a baby soon” and it all still felt totally surreal to me. In what felt like a few minutes later, after two pushes, baby Wren was born. There she was, another beautiful girl, so small and fresh and snuggly.
I am so thankful all went well with the birth and my recovery has been normal, which is a great relief and blessing as well! Wren has done really well, also, and we’ve been well taken care of by family, friends, and our community.
Our stay in the hospital was pretty quiet. No visitors except my parents. The biggest bummer was that the kids couldn’t come see us and meet the baby. The flu and pertussis have been so bad in our area that the hospital wasn’t allowing any visitors under age 18. My parents brought the kids by the road near our room’s window, and they jumped out and we waved and showed them the baby through the window. So we wanted to wait to announce the baby’s name until we were home, so that they could be the first to hear and so that we could tell them in person. It’s nice to wait a bit too and see the baby and see if the name fits.
It is the best to see the other children meet the baby for the first time and finally hold her, especially Philippa who was becoming a big “stister” for the first time. Noah didn’t want to hold Wren right away, but quietly the next day when no one was around he asked if he could. That first night home from the hospital is historically emotional and weird for me, and it was this time as well, and its just something I have to ride out. Brandon always amazes me in these times, how well he takes care of me and our family when I’m feeling weak, helpless, and overwhelmed. I’m convinced and reminded once again how much we need our community around us in times like these, and it’s always amazing to see how God orchestrates things to meet our needs.
Born March 3 at 8:55 am, 7 lb 11 oz 20 inches long.
wren: “little conqueror”
josephine: feminine form of ‘joseph,’ meaning “God will add, God will increase”
In the past few years, I’ve noticed myself paying more attention to the birds. In these last weeks of February, spring weather has broken in early and the early dark of morning has been filled with birdsong. Brandon and I rarely agree easily on baby names but when I mentioned “wren” to him, he loved it immediately. From that point on both of us kept finding ourselves drawn to it and calling her “wren” in our minds. It seemed fitting that this little baby girl was coming into the world in the spring season, the first of my babies not to be born mid-winter, just like the birds returning to the mountains in spring and filling our mornings with song. Reading in the psalms lately in the early mornings while I listen to this backdrop of birdsong, scriptures about singing His praise:
God has been teaching me and reminding me to spend time praising Him, to do it as easily and early as the birds do every day, to praise Him even when I don’t feel like it, especially then, because no matter what my circumstances are, He is worthy of praise! My prayer for our little girl is that her life would be a hymn of praise to Him.
Brandon and I were praying about having another child, and even while we were unsure if we should have any more, God surprised us with her life. We delighted in that He would add to us, and we pray that He would also “increase” in her life and through her.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7
“Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance…Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” Psalm 32:6-7, 11
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him…Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” Psalm 33:1, 3