a children's halloween

decorating done by my children

decorating done by my children

costumes sewn by elisabeth!

costumes sewn by elisabeth!

elisabeth's pumpkin

elisabeth's pumpkin

As you can gather by the captions, my children really took charge of Halloween this year. I had a lot going on with work deadlines and bronchitis-that-may-or-may-not-have-been-pneumonia (according to my doctor, so we treated it like pneumonia just in case, I never got a chest x-ray to confirm), so we decided early in October that Elisabeth would sew the costumes (she wanted to, anyway). She is awesome at sewing and did an incredible job! My sewing machine broke on her mid-way through and needed to go into the shop (it was overdue for a service, anyway), so we had to borrow my sister-in-law's VERY different machine to finish up, and she did a great job adjusting to the unfamiliar equipment!

I was excited that my crew agreed on theme costumes again this year (last year was a Halloween-Christmas mashup that I never posted about here), and Peter Pan is an especially fun theme. Of course people are always confused about one member of the group, so this year, no one seemed to realize that Elisabeth was Wendy Darling. 

I took more photos but this is all I had the patience to edit online (still waiting to repair our iMac with all my actual photo software on it). I am so proud of Elisabeth's work on these costumes, and her patience both with the process and with hovering (and occasionally nagging) younger siblings. 

I was also excited that these costumes turned out to be very affordable! We used lots of coupons and sale fabrics, and we already had all the notions, thread, elastic, etc., that we needed on hand. 

Patterns used were McCall's 3051 for Wendy, Simplicity 7784 for Peter Pan, Simplicity 2872 for Tinker Bell (I really liked this pattern's take on the fairy costumes—rather than a literal translation of the Tinker Bell look, it loosely applies it to cute dresses, which really expresses my costuming "philosophy", if I have one, that costumes should give the impression of something more than look like a literal copy of it), and Simplicity 9844 for Captain Hook, which you can see looks about 1,000 times better when made than it does on the pattern envelope. It is so cute and John is my only extroverted child, so he was quite into the entire process of dressing up and parading around the neighborhood. He got tons of attention and soaked it up! We couldn't find the old pirate hook we had from Nova Natural many years ago, so we ended up having to pick up a plastic one at the last minute. 

Anyway, altogether we had a great Halloween with much merriment, and I was so happy that my children took a lead role in decorating, costuming, and pumpkin carving this year. As bittersweet as the whole growing up thing is, it is a joy to see the traditions we have set up really being owned by them as they get older. 

Happy Halloween!

Nine years old


Almost 3 weeks ago, my sweet James turned nine! I've been meaning to get a birthday post up sooner, but just kept being distracted by other things.  

James is such a wonder at nine. He's really helpful and mature, very thoughtful and sensitive. He is also still quite a challenge in a lot of ways, but I think there's a real chance that what we view as challenges now will be strengths later in life. The very things that make him hard to parent will also serve to make him independent. He has a lot of integrity. He's a very hard worker and so sharp! I'm really proud of my little gentleman.  

I remember turning 9, and feeling quite grown up in so many ways. Somewhere there's a picture of me looking so poised and wise on my ninth birthday, and I think James has many of those qualities. Despite being the little brother of one, he's the big brother of two, and over time, I feel like he's shifted into more of an "older kid" role in our house (rather than just being "one of the little ones"). He's very responsible and conscientious. Recently he cleaned up our entire main level when Elisabeth and I were both sick, the house had been neglected for four days, but I needed to teach cello lessons anyway. He did a great job! He really surprises me sometimes!

He started swimming on a team (rec center league) in January and absolutely loves it. Soccer and baseball were both fun but he hasn't wanted to do them again. Swimming, though, has proved to be a good fit for his temperament, just like his older sister.  

James is also very articulate about his feelings and is so good at setting boundaries about his need for rest or time to himself, again, both traits I think will serve him well in his life.  

I love you so much, Jamesy! I'm so excited to see the person you grow into! 

winding down

On Saturday I floated on my back in a pool of cool blue water and watched clouds slowly drift across the dome of blue above, and thought and thought, about everything—and nothing. 

It was our last day at the pool for the summer. This was a summer of immense growth for all of our children, watching swimming "click" for the middle two, witnessing our baby's first words ("doggy" was the first!), and the sudden transformation of our eldest into a very mature and grown-up young lady.

I usually hate the month of August, but this has been a surprisingly good one so far. We are still struggling financially, but it hasn't been too hot and my usual August blues haven't paid a visit. In fact, the winding-down of summer, as many of our friends have returned to school this week, is a little bit bittersweet. We will not start our "homeschool year" (in quotes because I use the term "school" loosely) until sometime in September. We usually like to start around the 8th or so, but I think we may be just a bit later this year depending on several factors. 

I'm reminding myself not to wish away any time, as the time here with these children passes too quickly, as things are always changing, and just as soon as we thought we had something figured out and settled, that time, too, moves forward. 

So even when I'm feeling tired and a bit uninspired in general, here is my baby, ever closer to his first steps, his little words bubbling up with such joy. It is a reminder that even as summer seems to be passing away, here and now there is something fresh and so beautiful.

just my baby and me

My husband took this crazy crew camping and left John and me home for a few days. 

Last year, he took the three of them camping just a few days after John and I came home from the hospital, and I spent the whole time on the couch, nursing my new baby, avoiding going up and down stairs, watching the entire first season of House of Cards, eating Chicken Divan that I'd frozen a few months before, visiting with my midwife, and resting. 

This year I opted to stay home again because my back doesn't do well with laying on the ground, and while our time at home has been a little bit less "glamorous", it has been so nice, too. I've done a good bit of housework, but I also managed a couple of naps with baby John, read just a bit, spent some time praying and journaling, took some silly quizzes on Facebook, killed a really creepy fly-spider hybrid, and played a ton of peekaboo.

It was nice to have this time, and I really needed it. But I've missed them, too, and the house has been dreadfully quiet. So I'm really looking forward to seeing them this afternoon!


Spring is such a short season where I live, just a brief transition between winter and summer. This year has been an especially lovely (if short, as always) spring, with so many trees showing off their best fragrant blossoms. We were fortunate this year not to have a late-enough, cold-enough, heavy-enough snow to ruin all the blossoms before they had the chance to bloom. With Easter being late this year, spring has felt especially delightful, almost like an indulgence! 

{Silly faces on Easter morning.}

{Silly faces on Easter morning.}

With it, spring has brought piano recitals, and baseball, and fairy houses, and outdoor meals (as many of those as we can manage!), and my graduation and Mother's Day this coming weekend. Every season has its own sweetness, doesn't it? 

Water without price

And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.’

Come, Lord Jesus!
— Revelation 21:5-7, 22:20

Today instead of bringing our customary May Day baskets to family and friends, I had the final class of my four-year biblical school. We closed our study with the close of scripture, the final chapters of the Book of Revelation. When we got to the passage I've quoted above, the floodgates opened and tears began to flow freely. It was as though, at least for a moment, all the questions in my life had been answered and all of scripture was opened up for me in these verses. It was such a beautiful moment for me, and such a moving way for my four years to end. I will officially graduate next week, but today was really the culmination of our study. It was such a big accomplishment, and it was difficult for me at times, but I'm so grateful that I've completed it. 

This spring is a big one for our family, with my graduation next week, and James's First Holy Communion last week. He was so sweet, and earnest, and reverent that day. It was such a blessing to us all. 


I made him a boutonniere using ranunculus and some little white flowers (chamomile? I don't know), as well as apple blossoms from our tree which is blooming more beautifully this year than in the last two that we've been acquainted with this house. It has all seemed so very auspicious.