1 November

And now....the annual Halloween costume reveal! 

halloween 14

halloween 17

halloween 10

This year, we enjoyed the company of a 1950's sock hopper, a fire figher, a black cat, and the fire fighter's dalmatian puppy.

We made all of these costumes except for the fire fighter, which was from our dress up bin and James had settled on being it for Halloween months ago. It was my first time not sewing anything at all for a costume and a little bittersweet, but he was excited, so that's all that matters. 

halloween 18

halloween 7

halloween 5

halloween 16

We made the skirt and a net petticoat for the sock hopper costume using Butterick 4113.

halloween 3

I'm not sure how Elisabeth thought of this costume, but it was fun for me because I once had a gray poodle skirt costume that my mom made for me. 

halloween 19

The black cat costume was made using Simplicity 9050, a 1970 pattern.

halloween 1

halloween 6

I love how Fiona is so certain about what she wants to be. Once she decided on black cat, it was settled, and she was so excited about it.

halloween 2

John's dalmatian costume was from Butterick 3050, and it was the one that Elisabeth did most of the sewing on. She even did the zipper! She has watched me sew every Halloween costume over the years (and we've made quite a few similar animal-style ones, including this year's black cat), and she did a great job. 

halloween 8

It was pretty chilly outside and although Elisabeth opted to suffer for the sake of the photoshoot before putting her sweater on, John was not that into it and we couldn't get him to smile! Shortly after this, he was asleep. 

halloween 13

We had a fun Halloween, visiting some neighbors from our old neighborhood and some long-time family friends (whose daughters used to babysit baby Elisabeth when they were teenagers -- they are now all over 21!) before coming back to our neighborhood for some trick-or-treating. It was super fun. Overall (despite my injury to my backside), this was the most relaxed Halloween I've enjoyed in at least 5 years, so that was nice, too. 

See you tomorrow!

31 October

near our church

Thanks for your patience, friends, as I've worked out my crazy technical issues. (After 3 appointments with the genius bar, it turned out to be our cable connection after all....)

First off, the winner of the giveaway was Monica, who said: 

"It looks like a lovely book! Thanks for being so open in this space."

Monica, please send me your address at the email address in my left sidebar.

Now, on to some other things.


Happy Halloween! I'm so excited! I'm happy to say that we finished our costumes earlier this year than usual. Yesterday I fell down the stairs and I think I cracked my tailbone, so that was crazy and I feared we might not be able to finish the costumes because sitting is really painful for me! Fortunately, I was already ahead of where I usually am the day before Halloween (bad procrastinator that I usually am), and Elisabeth did the rest of the sewing for me! She was awesome. 


This October has been so golden and all the leaves I pass seem to look like little coins on their trees, making me think of this favorite poem by Elsa Beskow:

Golden, you are,
Golden sovereigns on your trees.
Golden guineas on your floor,
golden coins of leaves
that fall
for us to scuffle through
and rustle
and rattle
and hustle
and scrabble
and dabble
and paddle
as they fall
into an October carpet
which hides
our shoes.

our neighborhood

I think I'm going to give daily blogging in November a try again this year. Last year I just couldn't get through it, with first trimester sickness. It was feeling like too much, and since I hadn't announced my pregnancy to anyone at that point, it was just too hard, and feeling too much like quantity over quality. But this year, I'm hoping that nothing unexpected will pop up. It's always been so much fun for me and such a good habit. I should do it more! Ha!

See you...tomorrow!


august 7, 1999

14 years ago

14 years


What an amazing 14 years it's been!

4 children, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 7 homes, dozens of friends and family, a few arguments, and so much fun and joy and love. I wouldn't change a single thing!

Eleven years old!

Today my firstborn is eleven. Wow, that went fast.

eleven today!

One year and she'll have all the candles in the birthday ring lit! Two years and it will be teen.

eleven candles

blowing them out

I can't even say how I love this shining-eyed, poised, mature, funny girl. Although every year in childhood is one of transformation and change, I have been especially amazed by the change over the last year. While she's still very much a little girl, preferring to play outside much of the time, I have been noticing more and more over the last few months how she is coming into "herself" more. Little comments she makes here and there tell me that she is thinking of herself as more independent ("I like this, I feel that, I do it this way," etc.) and thinking about what that means, to have her own opinions and ways of looking at things. I remember feeling that way, too, realizing that I was me, not just "a kid".

from James, for the birthday girl

James made this card for her. He instructed her to open it over her head "for the full effect"! 

birthday goodies

She's helpful and wise. She is developing more focused interests. She is building friendships beyond "playmate". I'm really excited, if a little nervous, about where she's going. And like every developmental phase in parenting so far, I'm surprised to discover that we are ready for it. It's easy to dread things that haven't come yet, but I am learning that once you are there, it's not as scary. We know our daughter. She's our eleven-year-old, not someone else's. Parenting her has not been "easy" (she's sort of a classic "high need" child), but every step along the way, we have gotten to know her, and we've grown right along with her. I'm proud of her and confident that as she reaches the teen years, our relationship with her will continue to grow and blossom, just as she will.


Oh, Elisabeth. Thank you for coming into our family, for making your daddy and me into parents, eleven years ago. We love you. So much!

1 April


Light snow is in the forecast for tonight and later in the week. But just now I smelled the unmistakable scent of earth and sun and growing things that means spring is around the corner and I'm so excited!

Last week was busy and a little chaotic here. We had a ridiculous comedy of errors trying to get everything done that needed to be. And then we discovered Saturday afternoon that the puppy had destroyed all of my shoes -- and I do mean all of them -- within the preceding 24 hours. She's so sneaky. It's kind of funny but of course not that funny, too, because all of my shoes (and I am not a big shoe person, I only owned 5 pairs total) were expensive. I wear a size 12 and have plantar fasciitis (which is way better now than when it developed 8 years ago, thanks to wearing good shoes), so I have to be careful about what I wear on my feet, and of course, what I can get is pretty limited due to my size. (Being as tall as I am is mostly great, but the challenges come in when you are on the largest size of generally available shoes.)

Anyway, that was a bit of a digression. Friday night found us at our church's always breathtaking Good Friday service. We are blessed with what I am convinced to be the best music director of any church of any denomination I have ever witnessed. In three years, he has transformed our slightly rag-tag group of singers into an amazing choir, who perform beautiful pieces from Gregorian chant, to Thomas Tallis, to contemporary choral works. It's impossible not to be brought to tears with our music director's musical setting of the Reproaches. Being a musician, nerd, and highly religious individual, I fully admit to looking forward to this all year.

waiting for the Easter Vigil to begin

Saturday was, as always, a quiet day for us. We did some minimal prep for Easter dinner and then rested in the afternoon. After the alarming shoe discovery, we set out to the Easter Vigil. (One pair of shoes was intact enough that I could wear them with the addition of a grocery store insole.) It was extraordinarily beautiful. Fiona slept for about the first hour, but was up for the rest, and the other two children took turns sitting in the aisle so they could see better. They were all quiet and did beautifully the whole time. The Easter Vigil is long (about four hours at our church, this can vary), but so beautiful and transcendent. I wish I had better words, but I guess this will have to be enough. We got home at about 1:30am, and my husband had to be up at 6:00 to go play in a brass quintet at another church's services!

(Note: I made my dress, based on some basic ideas I saw on DIY Maternity, using fabric from Girl Charlee. I am not going to take full-body pictures of it because even though I like it, I don't feel the need to share full shots of my pregnant self on the internet. More about my rosary here.)

slow Easter morning

table setting

I love our dining room

lemon water


The rest of us spent a slow morning. Elisabeth and I gradually prepared our Easter dinner in spurts, between my resting and the children playing outside with sidewalk chalk and bubbles. 

My husband arrived home at about 1:00, and my brother and his wife arrived at 3:00 for dinner. It was a sunny, beautiful day, so restful and perfect. Keeping it simple and doing most of the prep in advance made it easy for me and my helpers. I never host holiday meals because generally that's the territory of my mom and mother-in-law, but this year it just worked out for us to stay home (with the addition of my brother and sister-in-law). It was so nice. I hope over time to have the chance to host a few more things!

Last night, I got my three overtired children and exhausted pregnant self into our pajamas at 6:00. I read each of them one chapter from their latest books. Fiona was asleep by 6:30, James by 7:00, and I think Elisabeth managed to hold out until 8:00 before falling asleep. They all slept in until 8 this morning, too, so it was well-needed rest!

Well, this is may be my rambliest and most pointless post ever, but I'm happy, so happy, that Easter has come -- I've been so looking forward to it this year! -- and that spring is around the corner. Soon enough, we'll be getting ready to welcome our baby. What a season of goodness lies ahead.

Seven Years Old!

{Sorry about the confusion in yesterday's post. Today is actually James's birthday, not yesterday! I was just reminiscing on the eve before his birth.}

snowy march morning

snowy march morning

snowy march morning

James was born at 8:40am on a Sunday morning after only one hour of labor(!). It was snowy, but much like today, not frigid. (I love March snows for this reason. Wet and not too cold.) I still remember those first moments with my tiny boy so clearly. It's hard to believe it was seven years ago!



What can I say about my little man? He's so gentle and empathetic, so willful and strong, so affable and generous. He's sensitive to anything "scary", but he's courageous, too. He has strong boundaries and knows his limits. He's smart and sassy and loud and so much fun. 

birthday boy

new book

Seven years with this boy! I'm so thankful for every one of them. He has pushed me beyond my limits so many times, and we've both always come out stronger. 


I love my boy, more than words can say.

birthday boy



Today is my thirty-fifth birthday. First, a little bit of honesty: I have been dreading turning 35, for a long time. Probably ever since I turned 30. It seems silly to say, especially because I'm married to someone ten years older than me. But this was the first age I wasn't looking forward to. (Some people it's 30, some it's 40. For me, 35.)

But you know what happened? The days just kept progressing towards it, and now here I am. 35 full years on this earth. And you know, they have been 35 pretty great years. 



On Saturday, I received a package from my friend Ginny. Sweetest thing ever. I'm so looking forward to starting this next cross-stitch adventure! (Also, she wrote the funniest thing in the card about researching hobbies appropriate to those who have reached "advanced maternal age" [what we've been calling 35 for the last year as we both approached this age with some trepidation], and cross-stitch being the best. So funny.)



good morning, 35

It snowed a foot yesterday. Today everything is sparkling and white and beautiful.


one breath

Last night, I enjoyed a homemade cherry pie with 35 hand-dipped beeswax candles. (I teach until late tonight, so we opted for birthday celebrating last night.) I blew them out in one breath.

And today I don't feel nearly as bad about being 35. 

3 January




It's still officially Christmastime around these parts. We keep the decorations up until after Epiphany (I usually surprise my husband by taking them all down on one of his first days back to work after break), and this first week of the new year is quiet for us. We've been reading, playing Christmas songs on the piano (a little me, mostly Elisabeth now), and playing with our gifts. I wrote and sent our Christmas cards -- although late, I figured it was a necessity since we moved this year.


I ended up making one major gift and a few smaller ones this year (more on those later). But what turned out to be the big handmade project this year was something I hadn't planned on doing. A few days before Christmas, Daisy (our puppy) mauled Elisabeth and Fiona's dolls. After I lot of finger crossing and breath holding, I plunged in and repaired their little faces. My repairs were pretty successful, and inspired me to try and clean up all three dolls and make them all new clothes for Christmas. It was a last-minute project and very time consuming. Looking at this picture, I realize Claire and Peter (the older dolls) could've gotten even cleaner, but it was a huge improvement still. Claire got new hair, and in addition to the plastic surgery on faces, they all needed other minor repairs. I was so excited to set them out for the children to find on Christmas morning and they were so happy to see their dolls so freshened up. It was wonderful.

I'm looking forward to a few more quiet days before plunging back into the normal schedule on Monday.

(PS: We did have a little snow -- just an inch or so -- on Christmas morning. It was just what I'd hoped for.)

24 December

amaryllis -- just in time!

paperwhites -- just in time!

ceramic tree

Well, we have made it to Christmas Eve. The last couple of weeks have seen me busy trying to do too many things at the last minute, a bit of sickness, and just crazy scheduling. I'm so happy to exhale here on Christmas.





I wanted to write a favorite Christmas books post again this year, and I even took these cute pictures of Fiona with that in mind, but the unfortunate reality is that our Christmas books (with the exception of a few stragglers) have been missing since we moved. I have a dread that I almost don't dare to speak, that they were left behind or somehow lost when we moved. Hopefully, with this week the first that my husband has been off all semester, they might be found in a back corner of the garage or something. We'll have to take a rain check on that post until next year.

at church

Tonight when we stepped out of church, snowflakes were just beginning to fall. It seemed like a Christmas miracle.

Wishing you all a relaxing, magical, peaceful, and very merry Christmas.

10 December

not a single snowflake

Yesterday we watched the sky expectantly, waiting and hoping for the promised snow to appear. My husband's evening gig was canceled early in the day in anticipation of the storm. But it never materialized. All of the waiting, expecting, and hoping amounted to nothing in the end.

As the day progressed, we were all feeling crabby and out of sorts. The lovely snowy afternoon spent putting up some of our decorations, listening to music, and drinking hot cocoa that I had been envisioning all week didn't happen. My husband took a nap, the children were otherwise occupied, and I was left thinking about my own expectations. 

I was thinking about the things I do, the things we do in our family, during this season, and asking myself (in a moment of self pity) why we(I) even bother. I sullenly thought, "I'm the one doing all the work and I'm the only one who seems to care, anyway." And then, just as quickly, I realized that I do all of this for the same reason I do anything for my family. So that they will have a foundation when they are no longer in my nest. A foundation of faith, a foundation of family, a foundation of celebration, a foundation of seasonal rhythm and observance. 

advent candle

When I think about the human beings I hope that my children will be, and I consider the things I can do to help them grow into those people, it can seem remarkably intangible and definitely overwhelming. I realize I've opened the door onto a very big subject, one that I can't fully tackle here in this post. But I think the lesson from yesterday for me is that even the rituals that can sometimes feel like a lot of effort, when carefully and thoughtfully put into place, really make a huge difference, whether it seems obvious at the time or not. 

advent weeks 1 & 2

In the end, we did all sit down to a supper of waffles, whipped cream, and fruit. We prayed together around our Advent wreath. The things that really mattered were there. Things are not always idyllic around here, and I do have to adjust my expectations. But I feel that the framework is here, and my family are all working and growing and thriving within it. 

5 December

{Some people have wondered why I didn't finish out November this year. I guess the answer comes down to quantity vs. quality. I know that in blogging, quantity seems to be the holy grail ... the way you get and keep readers, etc. How often you post. But when I'm posting throw-away posts, just to have something up, that doesn't make me happy, it doesn't make me enjoy being here, it doesn't make me feel like I'm accomplishing something worth doing. I'd rather a two-week absence and fewer daily hits than throw-away posts. I've had fun doing the everyday posting thing before and maybe I will again, but this year, it came down to quantity vs. quality.}

Advent is here, and I'm feeling kind of sad that it's a short one this year. I think this year I could use a bit more time to prepare my soul for Christmas. 


But things are underway and they are good. They are beautiful. We're doing a Jesse Tree for the first time and the kids love it. Really, I think it's the thing they've been looking forward to the most each day. I really wanted to make our Jesse Tree ornaments in the vein of Alicia's Christmas ornaments -- large, 3D-ish, stuffed, embellished -- but for three years, I pondered this and finally realized that while I have the ability to construct those, I don't have the ability to do the original drawings. Drawing is not one of my talents. So after spending a lot of time trying to find other drawings that I could adapt into my Alicia-esque Jesse Tree ornaments, and not finding anything suitable, I decided to compromise with myself. Actually doing the Jesse Tree was more important than the ornaments, and late this summer, I found this pattern on Etsy. I like the patterns, and they have even been a good jumping off point for me creatively (I've decided to blend the list with the one in The Catholic Home, so I'm creating a couple of my own designs!) I also decided, in order to get a bit of that 3D look that I like, to put the symbols onto background circles, which I'm lightly stuffing. They are coming out beautifully and I'm really excited about them.

jesse tree (with first ornament, a few days ago)

first ornament of the jesse tree


Last weekend, I made our front door wreath with my friend Kim. I love how it turned out, although the hawthorn boughs we used started shedding their needles within an hour of completing the wreath, so there are some bare branches on it. Still, it's beautiful and I don't really mind the look of the bare branches.



We haven't done very much decorating yet, besides the nativity, the advent stockings, the wreath, and the Jesse Tree. We'll gradually add decorations throughout the coming weeks. We've been so busy, so many things going on on weekends, so we'll get to it when we can. It's been so warm (today in the high 60's!) that I honestly haven't felt that Christmassy. I think we may get a dusting of snow this Sunday and I have a feeling more of the Christmas boxes will come out then. For now, sparse and bare is just about right for the season -- lots to anticipate!

Tonight, our shoes will go out before our front door, and for the first time in this house, St. Nicholas will pay us a visit. The simplicity and predictability of our traditions, no matter what the other details of life are at the moment (slow or busy, enthusiastic or a bit uninspired, warm or snowy!), ground us and carry us. I'm so grateful to be able to celebrate in our own special, small ways, with this little family of mine.

16 November

from last year, our old house.

Today a friend and I had the beginnings of what I hope will become a longer discussion of the celebration of Advent. We are both hoping to bring more to our families this Advent. For both of us, as Christians, we are thinking specifically about the spiritual elements of anticipation -- both for the historic arrival of Christ and for His anticipated return. Neither of us wants to introduce more in terms of doing more, buying more, giving more, hurrying more. Rather we are hoping that the "more" we can offer will be ultimately more nourishing to our families' souls.

We will continue with our usual traditions, but I'm thinking ahead to some additional things we can do. I fully intend to incorporate a Jesse Tree this year, something I've wanted to do the last couple of years but I've been a bit stymied on the project because I had something so specific in mind for the ornaments, something I don't really have the ability to create on my own. I struck a compromise with myself this year, something I think should be doable. I also want to do more with the O Antiphons than we have been.

I have other things I want to say about this but my thoughts are still a little jumbled. Hopefully after a few more clarifying conversations, I can formulate my thoughts about it into something a little more coherant. 

I'm already looking forward to beginning our old traditions afresh in our new home. We will be observing our countdown Advent calendar as usual. My original posts about that are here and here. A couple of years ago, I made a PDF of the little schedule I put together so you could get an idea of how it actually plays out in our family, and that can be found here. I also urge you to read this post, written last year. It says so much of what I'd like to say again, this year. If we could only all sit around my kitchen table with a warm drink and really talk about these things that we all cherish: traditions, families, faith, the ways we celebrate what matters to us, simplifying. As much as I do love the medium of a blog, sometimes I hate that it can come across a bit like screaming "Do this! Make that! Be more! Be better!" when really we all just need to reach out and encourage each other and know that what matters is just being. Being present with our families, embracing traditions that enrich our celebrations, and letting go of all the rest.

I'm hoping for the same for all of you, whatever your path this December. 

(PS: The photo above was the single Advent-y photo on my computer that had not previously been seen on this blog. We still have no cord to access anything on our external harddrive! It's kind of weird not to have access to any of my old photos.)

1 November

happy halloween

I hope you all had a lovely, festive Halloween. Halloween has long been a favorite of mine ... autumn being my favorite season, and all the merriment and make-believe. I'm usually able to look past the scary/gory part, although a bit of an innocent scare is also always fun. 

Anyway, I meant to be here all week, but of course, I procrastinated with the costume making, so I was too busy. Also my husband was out of town for several days and that added to some additional schedule juggling. Today was a day for decompressing, hence the very late post! 

I'm planning to post every day in November again, as has been my habit the last few years. It's a fun challenge. I will probably be posting at different times of the day due to our schedule. I'm not a great blogger at writing a post the night before and publishing it the next day. I usually just sit down, write, and publish a post. So just keep an eye out, I don't know when they'll be going up, but I promise there will be one each day this month! I've never failed yet!

Anyway, on to the Halloween costumes, since I know that's the subject of curiosity for some of my readers! 


This was the first year since we became a multiple child family that we didn't have themed costumes. I have to admit that it made me sad; I was hoping they'd do it a few years longer. But alas, they all had very distinct ideas this time. 

Having read The Lord of the Rings this year, and now being totally obsessed with it, Elisabeth chose to be Arwen. James is in a huge cowboy phase right now, so he chose to be a cowboy, although there was a moment there where he wavered and almost agreed to be Gandalf. At which point, we could've gone with a Lord of the Rings theme. But, in the end, cowboy won out. And Fiona chose to be an elephant. 

More about the costumes:


sleeve detail

train, also a glowy lens flare

neckline detail

neckline detail

For the Arwen costume, we decided to go with the "Blood Red" gown because it seemed to be the most memorable of the Arwen costumes from the movies. Back when the movies were released, there were commercial patterns to make copycat dresses, but they only came in adult sizes, and though there were plenty of them out there on Etsy and eBay, there's no way that the shape of a dress meant for an adult's curves would have fit my 65-lb, 5' tall 10-year-old. I decided rather than trying to make another princess dress and just making it the colors of the Arwen dress, that I'd do some research and try to come up with my own design. I discovered that there are tons of people out there who make costume replicas and I was able to get a lot of information about how to construct the dress. This site in particular was extremely helpful. I ended up making a basic raglan sleeve dress using satin and cotton paisley (with velvet sleeves, which I made smaller due to cost and practicality), and then cut away the top and designed a separate yoke piece. Then I made an overdress (like a jumper) out of blue velvet. Once I actually figured out what I was going to do, I just dove in and did it and in the end, the costume only took two relatively short sessions. I'd say I spent about 5 hours total on it, once the conceptualization was over. I am extremely excited about this costume, as was my little Tolkien fan! She is already breathlessly telling everyone we know that she is going to see The Hobbit in the theater when it comes out. :)




After the slight drama of designing the Arwen costume, James's costume seemed easy in comparison. I found a vintage cowboy pattern on Etsy (Simplicity 5332), and went from there. He liked the picture on the front of the envelope with the more "sheriff"-looking cowboy, so we used the same basic colors and look. When it came to finding a cowboy hat and holster that had the right look, we really encountered a lot of trouble. We went to store after store last weekend and came up completely empty handed. In the end, my husband found the hat and holster at an antique shop! They were a little bit pricy, but not crazy expensive, and in the end they were perfect for the costume. Since his costume was extremely affordable to sew (only three pieces of plain cotton fabric, plus the iron-on stars -- I had everything else on hand), I felt OK spending a little bit extra on his hat and holster. I think it's funny that he used the holster as pockets since he didn't have any guns!




Fiona was all set to wear the ladybug costume that I made for Elisabeth when she was 3 1/2. That was fine with me. But occasionally, she'd bring up the idea of being an elephant (her favorite animal), and at the end of last week, I looked at her and just realized that this was her year to be an elephant. I knew she wouldn't want to be one next year at 4 1/2, and anyway, most of the good elephant patterns only come in toddler sizes. So on Saturday, I went and bought some 50%-off gray fleece and a zipper, and decided to make the elephant. Mondays are my teaching day and generally busy for us, so I had to wait until Tuesday to start. Since we were also having our friends over for our annual pumpkin carving party that night, I had to cook and get the house ready, too, so I was only able to work on the costume for a couple of hours on Tuesday. On Wednesday, after running some errands, I spent about 3 1/2 to 4 hours working on it, and I finished it in plenty of time to take pictures. Although I didn't want to be so last-minute on the costumes this year, I am so glad I made this costume. She was my cutest and most enthusiastic trick-or-treater this year and it was so worth it to see her skipping along down the sidewalk, proudly showing off her costume, lifting the trunk and trumpeting. I wish I had more pictures of her wearing it but she was much too excited to stand still for photos! (The pattern I used for this costume was also found on Etsy, and it was McCall's 8938, a 1990's Tom Arma deal. It looks impressive, and while it did have more hand-sewing than I would've liked, it was actually quite straightforward to put together, especially if you're experienced with sewing from commercial patterns, as I am. It was also nice that the only pieces that had been cut in the pattern were the elephant pieces! It saved me a lot of time!)

I highly recommend buying vintage and used sewing patterns from Etsy (or eBay). Even by the time you pay for shipping, it's usually a savings over buying a new pattern at a craft store, and it's my opinion that the older patterns (especially pre-1980) are really a lot better in almost every way. They don't cut corners the way many contemporary patterns do. I think sewing from a commercial pattern is really the best way to learn to sew well, to learn techniques that you otherwise wouldn't, and to learn the hows and whys of garment construction. 

fiona's in the center

We had a completely fun and delightful Halloween in every way this year. Although I haven't talked about it very much here, I still don't feel completely settled or "home" in our new house. I think it's just because of the sheer amount of work we've had to put in and the amount that still remains to be done. But spending our first holiday here felt like a chisel knocking away some of my reluctance to feel settled. Home. This is home. I'm amazed and glad in my soul.



Yesterday my husband and I celebrated thirteen years of marriage. 


I was thinking about where we are now, and where I imagined, as a 21-year-old bride, we'd be after thirteen years. Today we have three kids, a house, a teaching job. I think I pictured us having a house, a pile of kids, and a teaching job of a different kind (originally my husband was looking to pursue a career in higher education, rather than high school). What has surprised me is the meandering road it's taken to get to that point, the way it feels to live this life day to day, and the actual where we live (I expected us to move to another state, rather than staying in my home state). 

Still, thirteen years seems pretty impressive. We've hit the teens! My mom gave us an anniversary memory book for our first anniversary, and at fifteen, it starts skipping years (just every five, and then every ten, years). I remember looking at that in the first few years of our marriage and thinking we had ages until it started skipping! Not so, now!

I'm happy, excited, and proud of these thirteen years we have under our belt together, and looking forward to what the next thirteen will bring. 

30 March

james 6

18 days ago, my baby boy turned six. (The next day I went to the hospital with kidney stones, more on that later, but it explains the lateness of his birthday post.)

This boy. He lights up my life, and terrorizes it, sometimes, too. This is going to sound funny, but I think I can already notice a little change in him since his birthday. He seems bigger, more sure, a little more patient. And he learned how to ride a two-wheeler last weekend. 

Happy Six, buddy! You are going to have the best year, I can feel it. 



happy birthday mama

Here I am, here I am! After more than a month of sickness (antibiotics were finally procured yesterday, in desperation), a broken toe, a 30-hour power outage, a great deal of snow, the beginning of Lent, exhaustion, and just keeping afloat, I wondered if I'd really ever be back here. And in the midst of that, we had our back-to-back birthdays on Saturday and Sunday. I turned 34, and my little lady, well, she somehow turned three.

fiona three1

Three. I don't know, it seems like a good number of years. I look at my little one, so expressive, honest, independent, as she transforms from a baby into a little girl, and I think she might be the prettiest of my three, and the hardest to predict. That's saying something, because I'm partial to the looks of my older two. And they are nothing if not spirited and unpredictable. But, ah, that's how it goes with these littlest ones, I think.

fiona three4

I have so much I could say about her, my lovely little lady. She's quiet but not shy; she's feminine but not prissy; she's strong-willed but not overbearing. She's opinionated, but unlike her siblings and me, not high-strung in the least. I am utterly amazed by her.

fiona three2

I cannot believe that in three more years she will be six. Bittersweet. So very bittersweet.

In other news, I have several finished knits to share in the coming days. 

Hoping that this month that I spent away found all of you well -- happy, blessed, and healthier than I!


12 January

We packed up and put away all the Christmas stuff on Tuesday. It's so bittersweet, don't you think? I love that season, those decorations, the music and fun and spirit. And the house seems sort of strange without it. But brighter, and bigger, somehow. We were all ready; no one complained about it at all.

end of christmas2

I've been thinking, in the nearly three weeks since Christmas, about Christmastime and its celebration. I've observed over the last several years a real desire for people, both religious and not, to observe Advent in a more meaningful way. Whether a meditative time of prayerful preparation, or a time to spread out the season and mark the time in a more conscious way, it seems that more and more people are embracing Advent. This, then, begs the question, "What is Advent? What is Christmastime? And is there any difference between the two?" And this is a challenging question. It can feel a bit frenzied and even discordant to thoughtfully prepare for something while simultaneously celebrating it. I haven't struck a perfect balance between the two.

cutting tree

But it has occurred to me recently, even as some people loudly clamor for less Christmas celebration during Advent and more celebrating in the two weeks after Christmas, that for mothers like me, there has always been a necessary overlap. Though the world is certainly more connected and commercial than ever before, it's not like the date of Christmas has been a secret for the last 1500 years (since its date has been marked on the calendar), and surely since there have been celebrations, women and mothers have been preparing their homes for them. If there are evergreens to be brought indoors, then they must necessarily be gathered in advance. The house must be readied for their arrangement. If there are gifts to be given, then they must necessarily be made or otherwise procured. If there is a special meal, then it must be planned, ingredients must be assembled, etc. All of the "things" of Christmas cannot magically arrive at 12:00 midnight on December 25. So, it seems natural that some of these ordinary, household preparations would have moved into the weeks preceding Christmas -- perhaps bringing with them some of the festivity of Christmas.





I don't know, those are just my rambling thoughts. What I'm saying is that in our home, we do try to observe a prayerful Advent, but we also delight in everything that has come to be so joyful about December during this time and place where we live. And as much as I sometimes wish that the weeks following Christmas were more like the weeks preceding it (in terms of activities, crafts, baking, and merriment), they really aren't. My sister and I were talking about this recently, and I think we were both feeling the same thing, but neither of us could really find the right words for it. We both love the weeks between Christmas and Epiphany, but they feel different. They are magical, but in a quiet way. We're more likely to stay home under quilts and read our new books than we are to go out for ice skating and cocoa. 

end of christmas1

I'm sorry this post is kind of all over the place. I've been thinking about what I wanted to write about this for more than a week, but I'm still finding it hard to find just the right words. But I'm wondering, have you experienced the same things? What do you think about this, having just wrapped it all up? I'd be so interested to hear!


31 December

Here we are, right at the end of one year, waiting to ring in the new. I am, as always at this time of year, full of so many things I could tell you, I should tell you, I would tell you if things weren't moving forward into the new and out of the old so quickly.

I could tell you about the end of our Advent season, special new traditions, successful craft projects, and our Christmas celebration, as well the celebrating we're still doing here in a quiet way even as everyone else is winding down. I should tell you about the few handmade gifts I managed to make, the many I didn't, the things I still hope to complete in the next week. I would tell you about a second tooth lost on Christmas Eve, a 15th tooth lost on New Year's Eve, and a final farewell to diapers in between. 

So many things I always want to get to on this blog in this last week of December, that I never seem to be able to. 

finishing out 2011

the end of 2011

Because really, I'm here, quietly knitting on the couch. Playing game after came from that tall stack -- some new, some old. Gazing at the tree, cuddled under blankets, not going anywhere if I don't have to. Except to bundle up into the car to look at Christmas lights -- just one more time, and again one more time. We're still listening to the Chrismtas music; we're still singing it in church on Sundays, too, and will be for two more Sundays. And I'm so thankful for that, because I don't want to say goodbye to this time of year. In the end, it's so much preparation, both the intentional keeping of Advent, and the work to be ready to celebrate Christmas for two short weeks. Two weeks, outside of time, where only joy and gratitude exist. We wait for -- long for -- this time all year; for me as a Christian, this seems to parallel the waiting and longing we have for the real joy that Christ, in an infinitely mysterious way, brings with his humble stable birth so long ago.

the way 2011 is ending

Anyway, I'm wishing you, my dear friends, the most joyous, prosperous, blessed 2012. We'll have so much to talk about in this coming year -- about life, craft, art, and whatever else comes along. Thank you for being here with me this year, I can't wait to share the next one with you!

with blessings on this eve of the new year,



24 December

We're here, we're here! Christmas Eve has arrived. Ready or not, it's time.

Yesterday was my husband's birthday, and since we'd had a big snow the day before, he spent the day sledding with the kids. I stayed home and knitted some last minute gifts and enjoyed the snowy view. 




a little of both

I'm sharing updates of my last-minute progress over on the Facebook page this year. They are not quite as exciting as last year because I'm not making as many gifts. My siblings and I aren't exchanging gifts with each other's families this year (because we won't be together on Christmas this time) which makes it simpler! Still, hop on over, if you feel inclined, to see how we're spending this Christmas Eve! (If you haven't yet "liked" the Facebook page, now is as good a time as any. Hee.)

Anyway, Merry Christmas, friends!