Saturday, May 05, 2018

one of a kind

MillieKay, MilMil, Milliebug, Amelia Kay.  Your personality is so big that you need several names to go along with it.  Seven.  You are seven!  As you like to remind me, just three more years until you turn ten (followed by peals of maniacal laughter since I always tease and say you're not allowed to talk about that yet.)  You are so creative and such an artist at everything you put your hand to.  You are graceful in ballet, and drawing seems to be a second language to you.  You have been adding regularly to your nature sketchbook all the beautiful finds you are making, like puffball mushrooms and lilac blossoms, and Southern Dogface butterflies.  

You begged to have your "own party" this year, not shared with your sister like we have always done.  I conceded that your other option was to invite three friends (plus sisters) to the trampoline park and then out to Dairy Queen.  I guess that was acceptable because we piled in your friends and jumped for an hour before getting chicken strips and ice cream at DQ.  At the trampoline park, I watched you run, giggling, playing Follow the Leader in a line with your friends along the trampoline floor and I was so happy that you have these friends in your life and I said a prayer for many years of happy memories together with them.  

You are one of a kind, my Millie girl, and I am so glad I get to be your mama.  Life with you has always been and, I am sure, always will be, an exciting adventure as you balance your enthusiasm with your sensitive spirit.  Love you bunches and bunches.


My Rosie, you are so big!  Your smile during your entire little birthday celebration lit up the room whenever you were in it.  You came up with the guest list of your little friends and asked for a "flower birthday" that was "teal and pink."  Your sisters and the other big sisters of your friends were welcome as Helpers and they were really good at helping so that mommies could visit and eat and sit with their babies.  It was your idea to "Pin the stem on the flower," although I changed it a little by making it a bee we were pinning to the flower because I thought it would be easier to decide who was the winner that way.  I loved watching you and your friends decorate and create flowers, and eat sandwiches and play on the tire swing.  What a happy day!

You loved your pink cake and I overheard you taking your friend Rex over to see it, saying, "My mommy made it for me!" Birthday cakes are a fun tradition now in our family and even though they might not always (or usually) turn out exactly the way I had hoped, YOU loved it and that's what is important to me because I want you to know that I am so happy God gave you to our family now and always.

When I look at your face I can see that you are not a baby anymore but are a big girl.  I know I should just plain be happy about this, and oh, I am so so happy about how big and smart and special and beautiful and funny you are growing up to be, but I also remember all the times when you were littler and how special those times were and I miss them.  I feel this at all your sisters' birthdays too.  Time is a funny thing, how it slips away, and no matter how carefully I am trying to treasure up the time and the days, it still escapes my grasp, and I am left breathless waiting for the day when I will catch up and feel like I understand how you are growing.  I don't think that day will come, but somehow I keep waiting for it. 

So now you are five and as wonderful as can be.  You love to entertain us with stories and songs and little plays.  You love to dig in the dirt and make people laugh and you say the most beautiful original prayers in the way you know that God really hears you and cares what you have to say.  Your prayers are a good reminder to me of how to pray. You are learning to read after begging to be taught, and then oh, boy, the joys of reading will be open to you so soon!  I love you, my darling Rosemary Joy.  Grow straight and true and be brave.
Your mommy

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

life giving

Ballet pictures tonight.  I've loved watching them grow in skill and courage this year. 

This month I now have a 5, 7, and 8 year old.  If someone could explain to me how this happened, I'd really appreciate it. 

I've struggled to keep updating here because, frankly, my computer is so slow that it takes me three times longer to upload pictures than it should.  Eventually I'll have something new and then using this space as a little journal will be easier again.  I suppose I could just write without the photos but life is so full right now that I don't think I have time for a lot of writing.  It's a good thing to look forward to someday. 

Little things I am finding life-giving right now: 

-getting my hands back in the springtime soil while planting beans, peas, potatoes, greens, carrots, and then watching them push through the earth.  I feel a little like a seed buried in the soil in the dark these days waiting for the light to warm me and draw me upward.  Growth requires a death of sorts and if that's true then I'm all kinds of growing right now. 

-friendships and sisterhood.  This year has been a year full of encouragement in friendship for me.  I am overwhelmed by the place the Lord has brought me to where I have true sisters that hold me up and allow me to hold them up before our Father, where we enter His presence together.  There was a time when I thought that my loneliness would overwhelm me for all my days, but I should have known better.  The Lord is so kind, so compassionate, and longs for his children to be in unity with one another.  I have been so blessed by the sisters and brothers in our church family and why should this joy surprise me?  It's a pleasant surprise, really, like a gift you weren't aware you were going to receive and then someone drops a thing you have longed for in your lap.

-animals; Jesse has been working really hard to prepare our pasture for animals so we don't have weed-filled acreage this year.  That has meant repairing missing fencing, devising creative ways to add fencing in places where the soil has eroded into the neighbor's property from an old gate and pathway, and stringing electrical wire.  We looked at a pair of Nubian cross doelings (goats) this week that we are planning to bring home very soon, a long-time dream.  A steer may be in the future as well.

-reading in the evenings before sleep.  I prefer to have several books in process at once nowadays.  My favorites most recently have been Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and the Time series by Madeleine L'Engle.  We spend an inordinate amount of time reading as a family and during our school day, which means so many books at once that are enriching my heart and mind, like Pilgrim's Progress and Howard Pyle's Robin Hood.  It's really true for me that educating my children is educating myself all over again. 

-making.  Knitting and sewing and stitching give my hands something to do while my brain works out the many things backlogged.  My current favorite are little sundresses I'm making for the girls which have knitted cotton bodices and calico skirts in bright and colorful prints.  I'm hoping to make some additional dresses to tuck into the shop very soon, the poor shop which has fallen behind in these busy spring months. 

Those are some of the happy things of my days.  Life isn't easy or straightforward and there are many troubling things in my world that one day I will share, but I can choose to celebrate the beauty around me in this space where I record the joys.  For the past five years I have realized that recording this beauty in a place that I can easily look back upon only spurs me toward thanksgiving and peace in my daily moments now.  God is gracious.  God is so good to me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Springtime School


We are headed into the third and final term of the school year and it's been a really happy school year.  Those girls are getting big so fast!  
Millie is in the middle of her first grade year and we've been reading some beautiful books together, including British history (as a natural precursor to American history), some interesting historical tales like Cincinnatus and William Tell, Paddle to the Sea (geography of the Midwest) and other interesting simple biographies, then poetry by A.A. Milne!  Tales from Shakespeare!  She likes to walk around the property with the bird guide trying to identify some of the new birds migrating back from the south. To get some extra practice, we're taking a little time to play more math games to solidify math addition and subtraction facts as well as reading "Life of Fred" at teatime (something they BEG for).  She is incredibly artistic and our drawing lessons are a source of joy and sometimes angst when it's not going exactly the way she is hoping.

Second grade with Lyddie is as interesting and fun as the first year. In many ways it is a continuation of last year's work, and I can see so many specific ways that foundation is being built upon. Even many of our books are the same into next year (third grade) with a several additional books to go along with them. We just finished reading The Wind in the Willows, Heidi, and are finishing up The Little Duke, the true story and adventures of young Duke Richard of Normandy.  The latter has been a really interesting experience together, in part because it was a real challenge to wade through the language at the beginning of the school year but is no longer what seems like an insurmountable mountain. Along with drawing, both girls have been knitting and weaving looms and practicing piano. 

Rosie participates in a lot of the "riches" (picture study, composer, poetry, drawing); she just memorized the poem "Daffadowndilly" by AA Milne the last few weeks and is so cute reciting it as she goes about the house working on her chores. She is learning to read, my little baby learning to read.  How is it all going so fast?

Friday, January 05, 2018

Yarn Along cozy January

What a sweet thing to learn that the Yarn Along community is returning to Ginny's blog after a year's hiatus.  I have missed having a simple place to connect to other knitters and their projects!  
I am mainly knitting right now for The Clever Hen, (yes, I opened up a little shop this past fall and have been kept busy!) and am thankful for the orders I've received.   Currently on the needles is a hat I designed from an Anthropologie-inspiration; I wear my prototype (second picture above) all the time and hope that others will too. The big, feminine ribbon is able to go in the side or back.  I'm planning to make others in gold and gray and a romantic dusty blue too, and I've toyed with the idea of producing the pattern for sale eventually. 
I'm also working on a chunky cable knit hat in teal that will be topped with a big cream or gray pom pom... also for the shop...
And I just cast off a huge chunky cowl with the cutest bobbles; I love that cream with the glittery gold thread running through it so subtly. The (free!) pattern by While They Play Designs can be found here.  I've knit three of these over the years over the years as gifts and LOVE the pattern.  This one is going in the shop too (do you sense a theme to my January knitting?) along with a dark gray with a silver thread.  
I'm (obviously) excited about the different ideas and goals I have for the Hen this year.  <3 a="" been="" but="" cross-stitch="" few="" font="" for="" have="" haven="" i="" knits="" knitting="" lately.="" m="" much="" myself.="" nbsp="" needles="" not="" on="" personal="" t="" the="" them="" too="" ve="" when="" worked="" working="">
I've started my reading game strong this year; I'm on track to finish all three of the books pictured by the end of January. Robin Hood is a pre-read for school, the others are just for me.  I love the Madeline L'Engle series and was glancing back through my book journal for an entirely different reason when I realized I last read them almost exactly 11 years ago.  I couldn't believe it has been that long; it felt like only a couple years.

So happy about all the links I get to click through at this first Yarn Along of 2018 at Ginny's Yarn Along.  


Tidings of comfort and joy
The heavy winter days have descended and there is sickness, sorrow, pain, death. In contrast to the lights and the happiness that seem to be out around and everywhere during the holidays, grief is outlined all the more against the backdrop of joy.  It may be my own grief or it may be my neighbor's this time around, but the darkness of sin and its consequences stand darkly silhouetted. 

Remember those words the angel said: For behold. Behold. Stop and look. See here! he says. 
I bring you The Good News. 
I bring this Best news for all of you

yeah you
the one shivering in the cold with nowhere to go
the woman about to stick a needle in her vein in her vain search for comfort and joy
the tired mom who starts to suspect that she really never will be enough
the outlaw hiding from everyone he knows 
the child huddled under a blanket on the floor with his siblings
the ex-con who can't find work or purpose
the garbage collector
the prison guard
the Walmart bagger
the trucker on the lonely road, 
the executive trying to depend on himself alone, 
the soldier far from home in a lonely land 
All people. 

This is the only, {I'll say it again, THE ONLY} comfort and only joy we can find in the face of the great suffering included in human existence. "Look at this. The virgin will conceive and bear a son and they will call his name Immanuel which is 'God is with us.'" (Matthew 1:23)
God is with us.  Now bust open that sky with light and celebrate with love and hope and joy, not just last month around the tree but every day because every day brings the same good news that the angel brought when you have Jesus.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Clever Hen, open for business!

Winter is upon us.  Here in the Northwest the trees are barren, the skies cloudy, the garden is asleep.  The water for all our animals is frozen every morning, so we haul out warm water to thaw it out.  We begin our first week of winter break and hopefully will spend the days preparing of Christmas in our home and in our greater community on the Rez.  This year this has involved making several dozen sugar cookies and making a nearly forty fleecy gifts for the children who come to Kingdom Kids, which are now piled high in our guest room, aka Santa's workshop.  

I am delighted to share here that I have opened a little Etsy shop, The Clever Hen, for selling handknit items for all ages.  Over the years I have had so many friends and family members ask when I will begin to sell some of the things I make and I always shrug and end up deciding I haven't had time to knit what I wanted to knit and knit to sell.  Now that my little girls are a bit older and I squeeze in knitting during school hours and evenings, I took the plunge and listed a few of my favorite things in the shop that I actually reserved and began to dream about five years ago.  This has actually kept me so busy that I am just now catching up on all the private local orders I've had!  I've sold several custom knits to local friends this month and have a few more in the wings, not to mention a lot of exciting plans and ideas for the types of listings I want to create and list once there is a lull.  I am prepping an adult Anthropologie-copycat hat in a soft pink with satin ribbon (so pretty) and have a chunky cowl in mind after that. I am still working on sprucing up the shop with photos and announcements, and eventually will host a few giveaways, probably through my Instagram, so if you think you might be interested, go follow me over there!

I have made firm guidelines about which toys the girls are allowed to play with in a given week and they must ask to bring anything out besides the toys assigned for the week.  I was discovering that I either needed to pare our beautiful toys down a lot (which I hate to do because I LOVE high quality children's toys which is why we have several options) or create a loose system that avoids five different expansive play options all out in different rooms at one time in one afternoon.  Beyond the logistics of cleaning and tidiness, I was suspecting it would bring increased focus to their play and sure enough, that does seem to be true.  It is my sincere hope that having fewer toy choice at one time will make this winter survivable ... for me.  I am not yet really very good at keeping such a large house tidy while also balancing motherhood, homeschooling, and ministry. While I'm the first to acknowledge what a delightful problem that is to have... it's still a problem!  

So happy December to all of my friends who have found me here. Let me know you stopped by so I can visit you back!  Check out my shop and see what I've been working on!