hello? is this thing on?

Not quite six months since I last logged in here.  I wasn't sure if I would come back, or what. I won't make apologies or explanations, or excuses. As has been said in countless places, blogging is kind of a dying phenomenon, although I still think there is so much that is valuable to be found and said in this medium. I was scrolling through my archives today and found I missed it, at least a little. At least enough to pop back in. I am pretty sure no one is reading at this point, and that's ok. 

My husband is working again, full-time, as a teacher. It was a rather circuitous route for him to find his way back into teaching after two years, but he is teaching general music and choir in a Catholic grade school and it's really wonderful in so many ways. Finances are still quite rough as he makes approximately half of what he would in a public school (which would still not be a lot of money by today's standards). As I'm typing this, I'm remembering the first time I ever wrote about his job woes on my blog; it was my blog's previous incarnation and it was in April of 2007. It seems that job stability is just not part of the game for this guy of mine. But I love him and we work it out somehow. 

These two years have been so very hard. I'm not sure I have the words to describe what it's been like. There has been so much ordinary goodness and just living life in there, that it's very hard to explain the feeling of loss and grief and dread that was always in the back of my mind, just all the time. And how even now, it's hard to recover. It feels like trying to jump onto something that's already moving. Disorienting and weird and scary. Closing the door on two years of unemployment, fear, and depression is very hard. One year ago was probably the lowest time for me; I really thought we were about to be homeless. And it's hard to process the fact that now we're not, and it's only a year on, and will the rug be yanked out from under us again? And do we deserve this period of relative peace? Hard stuff, even harder to find the words.

I'm trying to put some of this down, though, because it explains a little of where my head has been. Having four children has been a great gift during this time, because I was able to focus on them and their world. Keeping things stable for them was my full-time existence. I did not feel like making or doing other things. I have yarn here for sweaters for all four of my children, for a sweater for me, a granny square blanket barely begun. When I was in the hospital with baby John after my c-section and during his unexpected long NICU stay, my sister told my mom to find my knitting and bring it to me. But I found I couldn't knit. I couldn't make myself pick it up. It might have been good for me to do it. I know it's meditative and calming and overall a healthy thing to do. But that time in the hospital when I couldn't knit was the beginning of two years of not wanting to pick up any projects. I did knit a few stitches here and there; I completed one baby sweater for John, a couple of gifts for a new nephew and one or two friends' babies. But mostly, I had too much to process for even knitting to help. 

Today I wound a skein of the yarn I have had set aside for a sweater for myself. John, who at nearly two-and-a-half is not really "BabyJohn" anymore, but instead a delightful curly-haired imp of a toddler, squealed with glee as the swift spun jauntily on the table. I realized that he has never seen me wind yarn before. In his two short years of life, he has had a very different mama than the one his older siblings have known. It was surprising to me. Not sad, just surprising. 

Anyway, I don't know if I will get this sweater knit with any speed. I am not sure I'll even cast it on for another month or two. But I'm reminded of things that have mattered to me in the past, and things that matter to me still, if I listen quietly to my heart. Creating beautiful things is an important part of me. Maybe a part that's been resting quietly while the rest of me has been doing battle. But it's in there still. 

 

Two years old!

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Newborn

Newborn

First birthday

First birthday

Sun suit that deserves its own post

Sun suit that deserves its own post

Out for ice cream last night

Out for ice cream last night

Birthday traditions first thing this morning: birthday ring and presents!

Birthday traditions first thing this morning: birthday ring and presents!

This afternoon, pre-cake.  

This afternoon, pre-cake.  

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Dairy Queen ice cream cake because he has a summer birthday! 

Dairy Queen ice cream cake because he has a summer birthday! 

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Today this adorably funny toddler is two years old! How can that even be?! He is the happiest, most expressive (oh, the faces he makes!), silliest, toddleriest  toddler we've ever had. I'm in love with his curly hair and rosy round cheeks and the mischievous glint in his eyes. He has our hearts, this "Big Buddy" of ours, so beloved by all of us.

He loves to give kisses, and then applaud right after. He loves to makes hilarious growling and roaring sounds. He loves vehicles of every kind, so very much. He loves to put on and take off shoes, especially shoes that are several (many) sizes too big. He loves to eat good food—lots of it. He loves to play vacuum (really loves it). He loves animals and delights in holding Alice (our kitten).

He often shows me what he would like me to do by moving my hands the way he wants them to go. He is playful and busy and so very good-natured. Although he can still cry louder than any baby I've had, he is almost always happy, which is a gift. (Until he isn't, and then watch out!) He is often singing to himself and he's a delighted side-kick to his older siblings, most especially that teenage sister of his (who sometimes uses him as an ice breaker with other girls her age who like to coo and fawn over him and his smiling eyes and curly hair).

His world is one of delight, and he has brought so much of it to our world, too. I praise God for him every day! 

We still call him "Babyjohn" although he's really more and more  "BIG John"  every day. 

Happy birthday, beautiful John Peter. We love you so—and more each day.  

xoxo, Mama 

Goings on

It has been such a long time since I've checked in here—I never mean for it to be, but there it is.

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Long course swim season is underway, and with it lots of extra practices each week for my girl who now swims with her team's senior group. 

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We have a new kitten in the house. Her name is Alice and she was a craigslist find in response to some very persistent pleading on the part of a certain 6-year-old little lady who felt left out on the pet front, as the dog is sort of Elisabeth's pet and our other kitty prefers to snuggle with James. At a certain point, it's impossible to remain unmoved by such earnest pleas, so we ultimately relented. Cats are pretty low maintenance... Fiona chose her name and I must say I was quite impressed. Although my children tend to be pretty good namers—whether of animals or dolls. Our dog was named Daisy by Elisabeth, and our family's most beloved dolls are named Claire, Peter, Charlotte, Josephine, Janie, and Anna. So I'd say we are pretty good namers around here!

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Not too much else is going on...about three weeks ago, a gust of wind caused a door handle to hit the back of my hand and hurt it terribly. It is still bothering me quite a bit so I may end up having to give in and have it checked out. As such, any type of handwork has not really been happening—I haven't picked up my cross stitch since it happened. Fortunately I'd finished a good amount of it before that . On the other "hand", I have been sewing a little bit, mainly cloth diapers to replenish our stash of worn-out diapers from the older children.  

I hope you are all doing well! Leave a comment to let me know if anything new or exciting is going on with you!  I would love to be able to keep you in my prayers. 

About subscribing to this blog

Hi there! A lot of you are new visitors to my site via Alicia & Ginny, and I'm so happy you're here! I've been getting some questions about how to subscribe to this blog and I'm so sorry I don't already have that set up. Our family is currently without a home computer and managing this site via iPhone has some limitations. I'm working on getting it all figured out and set up.  

In the meantime, I'm so glad you're here! Thanks for hanging with me while I work this out!

Stitch along

Photo courtesy of Alicia Paulson

Photo courtesy of Alicia Paulson

My kit, getting ready to go! 

My kit, getting ready to go! 

 

Two and a half years ago, Ginny and I had the idea to host a stitch along for Alicia Paulson's awesome Winterwoods ABCs cross stitch sampler. Last week, Alicia released a new cross stitch pattern and kit, My Sweetiepie ABCs. Ginny suggested that we host another stitch along, and I was definitely on board!  

A is for Apple! 

A is for Apple! 

Cross stitch is such a fun and easy craft, totally accessible even to inexperienced and beginning crafters.  These patterns are simple enough, and the instructions clear enough, that I don't think you need any previous experience.*

I'm posting from my phone, so I encourage to to visit Ginny's post for more links and details! I hope you can join us!

*Alicia did not pay me to say that! Neither Ginny nor I will receive anything for promoting Alicia's pattern & kit, other than the fun sense of community from stitching along with others!

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Newborn

Newborn

First birthday

First birthday

Age 1

Age 1

Second birthday  

Second birthday  

Age 4

Age 4

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Age 5

Age 5

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6th birthday

6th birthday

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Age 7

Age 7

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8th birthday

8th birthday

First Holy Communion

First Holy Communion

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California

California

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9th birthday

9th birthday

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Age 10

Age 10

Arwen costume

Arwen costume

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11th birthday

11th birthday

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Bobby soxer

Bobby soxer

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12th birthday

12th birthday

At Camp W. 

At Camp W. 

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Recital

Recital

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First in her heat at state (red cap & black shortjohn suit)

First in her heat at state (red cap & black shortjohn suit)

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13th birthday, with a bad head cold

13th birthday, with a bad head cold

Today our wonderful, amazing Elisabeth Grace is 13 years old. it hardly seems possible, and yet we are so ready, too. 

I think a lot about the ways I have fallen short and, yes, failed as a parent over the last 13 years. I worry about the ways my own baggage has come to rest on the shoulders of my daughter at times—when I see my perfectionism, anxiety, or hot temper flare up in her. I grieve over the ways our hopes and dreams for our family, when we were so much younger and just starting fresh with our first adored child, have failed to come to pass. 

But then I spent a few hours today looking through pictures of her—these, and so very many more—and I see the evidence of a joyful childhood, of a happy little girl coming into her own, developing interests and passions. I see a girl who is a leader, who is caring, compassionate, kind, funny, and brilliant. She is both very innocent and very, very wise. A few weeks ago, she told me that she thinks people rush through their lives and make risky decisions because they are afraid of facing the idea of death. I thought this was so profound, something I hadn't really thought about before. 

She is generous, often spending her own money on things for her siblings. For example, she recently bought a scooter for Fiona so that Fiona could ride on her own scooter with the older kids.  

She is responsible and so helpful around the house. She is wonderful with John, which is such a gift when I need to take care of other things.  

It's incredible to imagine that the sweet, silly baby that she once was is now this thoughtful, mature young lady—and all the amazing things she was in all the years in between. Creative, imaginative, stubborn. An extraordinary child, an extraordinary teen.  

As my girl now stands in adolescence, ever so gently closing the door on the large part of her childhood, I know that it was a beautiful childhood that we made together—Elisabeth, her father, and I.  

The mistakes don't matter so much as I think. I am so grateful for the gift of this incredible, beautiful human being.  To know her is a privilege, to be her mother is a true gift.  

I love you so much, my Elisabeth.