Grace

“Please remember to give yourself grace if things aren’t just how you feel they should be.”

These are the words sent to me by a new friend in my neighborhood, a fellow homeschool mom and a fellow Christian.  I sent her a word of encouragement via Facebook inbox one day, and she sent me a lovely note in return–saying exactly what I needed to hear on our first day back to school after our new baby’s arrival and Daddy’s return to work.  That was mid-January.  We’re over a month into “normal life,” and it’s been quite a roller coaster.  There have been plenty of high soaring moments–newborn smiles, visits from family, beautiful snow, exciting sled rides, the discovery of fun places in our new community.  But we’ve had lows–sinking, where-is-the-bottom kinds of lows.  We’ve had illness–nothing serious, but when my kiddos aren’t 100%, I’m terribly on-edge and praying for a return to good health.  I haven’t been myself either, and you know the saying.  When mama ain’t happy…

Homeschooling has been rough during this wintery back-to-school transition.  Because I haven’t been feeling great, I haven’t been very fun or creative in my school planning.  We’re covering the basics and waiting (not so patiently) for a break in the weather.  Simply being outside is education in itself, and I can’t wait to explore our new yard and begin a little gardening project.

For now, I’m keeping my friend’s words close.  I am not always generous with myself when it comes to doling out grace, but thankfully, I have a Lord who is exceedingly generous in that regard.

Babymoon

My first three kiddos are summer babies.  They spent the first three months of their lives in little Onesies.  They rarely wore socks, and we took them outside for walks every single day of their brand new lives.  Our current bundle was born on a very warm December evening, but since then, the weather has been mighty chilly.  Such a different experience!  And the whole fact of a newborn in cold-and-flu-season brings out the almost-germaphobe in me.  Let’s simply say that several factors have brought us to being inside a lot, and we are all feeling antsy.

I, for one, am craving the normal run-around of our usual life, but at the same time, these three weeks have been a treasure.  I know why people call the newborn period a “Babymoon.”  It is a period in time that you can never recapture.  It’s a process of falling in love, getting to know a new family member.  It’s a time to close out the rest of the world, trim down responsibilities, and just BE.

As sweet as this time has been, like any honeymoon, the hibernation has to come to an end.  Cory went back to work this week, and we returned to our (modified) homeschool schedule.  The meals from kind friends have come to an end, and I need to get back to meal planning and prep.  This is good progress, and don’t worry; we still have tons of cuddle time.

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Hello, Baby. Hello, 2014.

He’s here!  Our fourth child– joined the family on December 22 at 8:34pm.  He was born at a birth center in a quick, natural birth.  I was supported by my husband, a midwife, a nurse, and a doula named Amy.  We were a good team, and I’m thankful for all the hands that helped to welcome our son into the world.  I deeply wanted to give birth at home (planned this time!), but when we were making decisions about this birth, I didn’t know if we would have a home yet.  Therefore, we planned for the free-standing birth center, and I can now say that it was the next best thing.  The environment was simple and private.  That is pretty much all I need.

And now, I feel like our new life has begun.  For real.  We have our new baby, our new house, and a spankin’ new year ahead of us.  I wanted to share my New Year goals here, but I feel a little silly.  Let me simply say that my goals are specific, measurable, and attainable.  No crazy pie-in-the-sky aspirations for me this year.  I’ve divided them into 4 categories, using the aims of my sorority (Alpha Sigma Alpha) as a framework.  They are Intellectual, Spiritual, Physical, and Social.  As the year progresses, I’m sure that I’ll share little tidbits of my plans and my progress.

For now…feast your eyes on this bundle of Christmas sweetness…

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A Tradition Renewed

When I was growing up, we cut down fresh Christmas trees.  We weren’t exactly on a tree farm though.  More like an old strip mine/wooded area.  It was fun and felt a bit sneaky.  Such rebels we were!  Truly, though, it was a great way to get a tree.  The trees weren’t sprayed with pesticides, and they were left to grow when, how, and where they pleased.  We were never bothered by a single other tree shopper!

From Christmas 2004 until my family moved to Florida in 2011, we went to a Christmas tree farm with Cory’s family to pick out the perfect evergreen.  That first Christmas was also the evening when we saw our very first positive pregnancy test.  As we decorated our tree, we danced around the living room, listened to Bing Crosby, and cracked open a can of fruit cocktail.  Our hearts were full with anticipating next Christmas with a new baby in our arms.

In late November 2011, Cory’s mom and dad drove a moving van down to Florida with our belongings.  To our absolute shock and delight, a beautiful Christmas tree had made the trip–tied onto the back of the truck.  What a surprise!

Last year, we picked up a Home Depot tree in a Florida parking lot.  Not quite as fun.

But this year, the tradition continues.  We bundled up, mounted the big wagon with hay bales for seats, and set out to choose our tree.  A fresh snow and a bit of sunshine made the day perfect.

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Jumping for Joy

We are having a great, quiet Saturday.  It’s the first Saturday since we moved with nowhere to go, and being here feels right.  I gave all three kiddos much needed haircuts.  The boys are watching a Christmas movie, and hubby is grading final exams.  Charlotte is taking a nap next to me.  Perfect.  The only thing better would be watching the rather gloomy drizzle turn to snow.

Boxes are still plenty, but we set yesterday as a deadline for having things relatively “set up,” so today is a day for relishing our efforts and the results.  It’s not perfect.  No, no.  Yet the house feels much better.  For once I don’t feel guilty about sitting on the couch blogging instead of unpacking a box or scrubbing something.  Imagine!

I love these shots of the kids enjoying a mostly empty house on the second day after closing.  There has been a certain joy about our days as we become acquainted with this old, new-to-us house.

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We’re In!

Hello, readers–those who have made it through my long dry spell.  We closed on the house about two weeks ago.  Most of our belongings are here in the new house, but the boxes are many!  We had a loss in our family, so the move-in didn’t happen in one big swoop as I had hoped.  We needed to step away from the work, mourn with our family, and celebrate the life of a sweet grandma.  Then Thanksgiving came.  More days away.  Then there was a weekend of a birthday and a baby shower!  All good things, but the task of settling in has been slow.

Our Christmas tree is up, and “home” is starting to feel like a fitting name for this little cottage of ours.  Yesterday, Cory and I watched the Steeler game in our sunroom/schoolroom.  The snow was falling in earnest, and we could watch it from every angle in this sweet sunroom.  I was filled with the joy of having made it home in time for Christmas and in time for our baby’s arrival.

More Waiting: The Good Kind

I’ve been on the “down low” for a bit.  So many things were happening, but so many question marks were rising.

We did find a house that we love.  It’s not perfect, but it is beautiful and totally loveable.  We have a contract on a 1920s cottage in  a small town.  It has hardwood floors that are in excellent condition and many adorable features that captured my eye and my heart on the first visit.

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We are praising God that our Florida house is officially sold, and we are now waiting for our lender to give us a closing date.

Waiting…

We have been in a season of preparation and waiting since April.  First, we prepared ourselves for the news of Cory’s interview.  Would he get the new job or not?  He did.  Then we prepared to move.  That preparation was probably the most physically taxing!  We cleaned and packed and prepped.  Then we made the move.  We returned a little over a month later for another round of packing and cleaning.

Once in our new/old state, we worked on settling in and finding some sort of routine.  Not easy!  Then we prepared for Cory to start his job and find yet another new rhythm without Daddy at home during the day.  With that mission accomplished, we prepared for a second year of homeschooling.  It was important me that I have a clearer plan this year, and I feel pretty good about that plan.

We are still in the process of selling our Florida house, and we are making progress on finding a new home.  This waiting and preparation is hard emotionally and mentally because real estate is such a roller coaster.  But we are doing the best we can to wait and prepare in an “it’s out of our hands” kind of way.

And now…we are finally ready to prepare for the most exciting change of all.  We are getting ready for BABY #4.  We are sorting and washing and organizing as we prepare for our newest baby…

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Hunting

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This is my parents’ backyard.  This is the magical place where my sister and I rolled and played and made up stories.  We pretended to be Olympians on the swing set–practicing a sport that never caught on.  This is where we watched for the rotund groundhog who popped his head up year after year.  We named him “Chubs.”  See that skinning pine near the center?  I planted that with my Grandma Kitty when I was very small.  It is taller than all of us now.  This yard is a carpet of soft moss under a canopy of trees.  The sun comes through in a twinkly sort of way that I was thrilled to capture in this photograph.  I love this place.

We are deep in the hunt for our new home now, and I guess part of me is always searching for the yard of my childhood.  I’m looking for the green and the sunlight, and mostly, the quiet.  I’m looking for a place for imaginations to thrive and God’s glory to shine.  I’m looking for the magic.

An Almost Autumn Weekend

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Hello, readers.  I’m excited to be back on the blog with you in about two week’s time!  This feels like a victory.  I hope you are witnessing the start of a nice, long stretch of consistent posting.  I’ve missed you and this place.

Saturday could not have been a more beautiful September day.  The sky was crystal clear–the kind of blue that requires you to pause in awe of that true, true color.  The air was cool, and I had to rummage through bins of long sleeves and pants to find something for the kids to wear.   Late Saturday morning, the guys headed out on their outdoor adventure (hiking, fishing, the works) while Charlotte, Mom, and I went to an Apple Festival.

I’ve been excited for this festival.  It felt like the ultimate celebration of the impending autumn–a season that I’ve missed profoundly.  I loved our time in Florida, but my goodness, I missed fall and all that goes with it.

So the weekend was all about autumn, and the Apple Festival certainly brought out many of the things that I love about the season.

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(I apologize for the if-y photo quality.  I’m trying to fumble through the new way of adding photos through WordPress.  I haven’t quite got it yet!)