holidays

season of joy

Christmas 2013

Remember this? Two years have passed since I took that photo, and, thanks to a small Christmas miracle, the boys were pleased to reenact the scene. Mmmm. Love me some smilin' boys in their Snow Pixie Hats

Our advent season was one of waiting, in a different sense. Waiting for the stomach flu to work its way through all of our systems. Nothing like a family illness to keep the holidays simple! We're mostly better now, and hoping that we are out of the woods for the rest of the cold season.

Christmas 2013

And here they are with their baby sister, who is just waiting patiently for the holiday crazies to mellow out before making her appearance. Right, baby girl? No being-born-business before the guests leave? :) 

I hear little feet upstairs. I've been downstairs, (dark) and early, starting to put away some Christmas decorations. As much as I love the festive season, and would love to honor the twelve days of Christmas, that's just not in the cards this year. Because when your baby is due shortly after Christmas, if you don't put things away, the house will still be decorated come April. So here we are, moving on to the next big thing. We'll let you know when she's here!

Wishing you much peace and relaxation as we usher in the New Year!


visiting the pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

The title of this post should really be "Make Your Kids Happy With 40 Tons of Corn Kernels." The pumpkins, as it turns out, were an afterthought. I think you can see why.

We're lucky to have a pick-your-own-pumpkin farm in our community. Ganyard Hill Farm doesn't just stop at the pumpkins, though - with two corn pits, plentiful hay bales for scaling, goats to feed, unlimited hay rides, and a few mazes, I'm happy to say that this yearly visit has become a solid family tradition for us. Check out the photos of my little butter balls in the corn pit two years ago! My, my. How quickly things change in life with young children when you just take a step back to see a larger expanse of time. 

The season of pletiful celebrations is upon us. We're looking forward to doing some projects from our copy of The Artful Year: Autumn, as well as making our Halloween costumes. Finn has already made Patrick's - he's to be a single cell. (I mentioned he was into evolution in my last post. One of his favorite books is currently Life Story, by Virginia Lee Burton. This book, among others, is the inspiration for our costumes.) Finn's just trying to figure out how to best hang the cardboard cell around Daddy's neck. Homespun Halloween, little boy style. I really love it. 


welcoming autumn

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

It's been a particularly festive and colorful week. An autumn party to attend, apple crisp to be baked and shared, summer clothes to be put away and pants and long-sleeved shirts to be brought out of storage. Tomorrow, we leave for our second annual camping trip to the Appalachian mountains for some apple picking and cool weather hiking. 

Not many words today, just some pretty pictures. Wish me luck packing for the trip with two very tired boys in tow! 


secret love totes

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Cookies were baked, heart totes were made, first letters of friends' names were painstakingly written (and glittered over, of course), and two stealthy little boys delivered them to their unknowing companions. The totes just say "You are loved," and are unsigned. Such an exciting mystery to solve.

Just one of many little traditions that I've gleaned from our Sparkle Stories - this one from the Martin and Sylvia Valentine's audio book.

I hope they remember these little things. It certainly generated many a giggle today.


a different sort of christmas

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Shortly after I hit "publish" on my last post, I found myself at the hospital. Again. This time, Lachlan was fine. It was my Dad. 

On December 23rd, I was busying my hands (a thing I must do) once again while someone I love dearly was undergoing open-heart surgery. (Insert your expletive of choice here, even if you don't cuss, because man, it has been one of those years!) My Dad, a very healthy man (and former marathon runner), had to have a triple bypass. He's one of those rare people who, despite living a very healthy lifestyle, has a body that over-produces coronary plaque. It's just bad genetic luck, I suppose.

He's doing well, and will be home within the week. We are postponing our bigger holiday feasts and festivities, as two year-olds don't know the difference between December 25th and December 31st, thankfully. If you'd like, please leave my Dad, Gery, a word of encouragement in the comments. I'll make sure he sees them.

Oh my goodness. I don't know about you, but I'm so ready to say goodbye to 2011. May 2012 be calmer, more predicatable, and - above all - free from heart surgery! 


an elf among us

an elf among us

an elf among us

an elf among us

an elf among us

an elf among us

Oh, baby boy. That you are here with us this holiday season is the greatest gift of all.

Wishing all of you a memory-filled Christmas with those you love. May the time you spend together be the gift, whether filled with activity and big-family going-ons, or simply gathered by a fire, reading a book under a blanket. See you back here on Monday, friends. 

P.S. If you're still looking for stocking stuffers, Lachlan's Snow Pixie Cap makes a great last-minute sewing project!


campfire and carols

campfire and carols

campfire and carols

campfire and carols

campfire and carols

campfire and carols

Good friends. A light-sweater kind of December night, when doors could be kept open for the munchkin crowd, busy going between the popcorn bowl on the kitchen table and the rocketship (treehouse) outside by the fire. 

I think we'll have to make this a tradition. We are surrounded by such good people. As everyone walked in the door with a dish to share, I couldn't help but remember the many meals these friends brought to us while we were in the hospital with Lachlan. Nourishing relationships, indeed. Even though any gathering involving more children than adults is, by nature, chaotic - I take great pleasure in thinking of how my relationships with these friends will evolve and deepen over time, and how - not too far in the future - we'll be able to sit down and have the occasional uninterrupted conversation. Sigh. I'm feeling full of gratitude these days.

*** I thought I would have this blog makeover done by today, but here I am still, going through all of my archives. The html furrowed my brow many times over, but that tricky-sticky stuff is over now. I'm just categorizing things, making resource buttons, writing text for my About page. I hope you'll like the final product. 

Instead of running my giveaways before Christmas, I've decided that I'll do a twelve days of Christmas thingy after the big day. I seriously have lots of things to give away! Too much for a single weekend. Fun stuff, new small businesses to show off, and a handful of book reviews. How's that sound? ***



the perfect tree

in search of the tree

in search of the tree

in search of the tree

 Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in the mountains. Every year during the holiday season, she looked forward to packing the car with rope, donning her snow boots and gloves, and heading to the Christmas tree farm with her Daddy. 

This year was no exception - as she excitedly ran out the door, her Mommy called after her, "Now don't you get a tree that's too big!" Her mouth was pursed but her eyes were twinkling, and the little girl said to her, "We're going to get the biggest tree we can find!" And she dashed off to the garage after her Dad.

She and her Daddy drove down the curvy roads, twisting and turning. The girl looked at the gray sky with hope - the thought of the big snow storm rolling in tonight made her tummy flutter with butterflies. 

They turned up a dirt road, following the rustic wood signs with red lettering. As the car reached the top of the hill, the girl could see acres and acres of Blue Spruce trees - tall and skinny, among many others. The Blue Spruce was their tree. Mom preferred short and fat trees, but she and her Daddy almost always chose a spruce. The taller, the better.

The old man who owned the farm handed them a saw and they headed down the path, toward the big trees. They passed many a worthy short, fat tree. She remembered her mother's words, playfully cautioning against a big tree. She smiled and walked straight towards a regal, elegant spruce. With perfect proportions it stood, its elegantly spaced limbs poised for dangling ornaments and twinkle lights. This was it. Her Daddy pulled out his measuring tape and saw that it was inches short of their ceiling clearance. He smiled and chuckled, "Your Mom's not going to like this! But we can fit in in the house." The little girl thanked the tree for its beauty and rich, spicy smell, and held its trunk as her Daddy cut it down. 

Up the trail they carried it - it took all of her effort, her being such a small girl and the tree being just the opposite - but together they made it to the car and hoisted it on the roof. Not too many words were said between father and daughter, but good feelings about a task well done filled the cab of the car as they drove back home.

It started snowing, and by the time they got home it was freezing and windy. With much effort, they carried the tree inside and secured it in the tree stand.

An incredulous and smiling mother stood by, saying things like, "Oh, you two!" and "Every year without fail!" She had hot chocolate on the stove, Christmas carols on the stereo, and a fire in the wood stove. The boxes of Christmas decorations were spread across the couch, waiting to be opened. The little girl liked Christmas Tree Day nearly as much as Christmas Day itself. 

I told a similar story to Finn as we went out in search of our tree in the North Carolina Piedmont. It was a special day. The Daddy in that story? My Dad, Finn's Papa. Papa was with us this year as we found our tree. In fact, he likely will be for many, many more Tree Days, now that my parents live nearby. 

I'm still on a quest for the idyllic tree hunt of my youth. Let's just say that real Christmas trees don't really grow where I live. Isn't it funny that these cypress are heavily pruned to make them look like a tree? To me, they still look like bushes. We ended up with an Eastern Red Pine - and my Mom would be proud. It's a rotund tree. But I like it just fine.

No matter how you get your tree, it's always a magical time, at least in the eyes of a child. 

 

 




of apples and boys

apple time

apple time

apple time

apple time

apple time

apple time

apple time

I was thinking about titling this post "and so it begins." I would have added an exclamation point to that title, because there's this inner child in me that's getting all excited about what's going on in my house these days. 

The excitement is over something very simple. Apples. A shifting season. Decorations. Leaves changing. Noticing everything. 

The one who is doing the changing and the noticing is my little boy. He is most assuredly not a toddler any more. He is waking up to the world - its changes, its celebrations, and its more nuanced flow. For the first time, I find myself decorating for this autumn season. For the first time, I find myself accompanying FInn on walks to find acorns. He has ideas. Plans. He picks apples and wants to make applesauce and bake a pie. We do. He suggested we sing Happy Birthday to Autumn before we cut into our pie. He made the crust with minimal help. (He likes it that way - he is still two after all.) His sentences are long. Involved. He has theories about the health benefits of butter (It's good for my body and will give me energy to run, run, run!) ... says he who is trying to convince me that we don't need to reserve all of it for the crust and that he, perhaps, could just taste a tablespoon of it? 

We are embarking on our first season of celebration with a boy who is aware of it all. Last year was sweet, but he was still a baby. Everything was parent-directed, which felt just a bit contrived (the nature of that stage of parenting, I think). Now is the time that traditions will truly take root in our family, growing organically. We are becoming a conscious family. Let us celebrate with apple pie!