what december looks like here:

I am waiting for a baby.


(Taken 10 days ago!)

But I am also trying to just enjoy this favorite season of the year, noticing the way certain things have become Christmas in our little family:

Enjoying our first December dinner with the flicker of candles in Advent wreath, reading the first of 24 little books telling the story of Jesus, and followed by a viewing of The Nativity Story (and cookies!)

Making cookies, and being sure to have a variety for tree-decorating night!


(Rum logs — add 1/2 tsp salt! –, Pepparkakor, and Chocolate Crackles. Coming soon: Peanut Butter Balls, for my favorite guy.)

Getting a tree, as soon as we can. Dashing through rows (that makes it sound tidy — not quite!) of trees, finding the “right” one. We don’t agonize too long: The right height, not prickly, a little bit wild. Done, settled, bring that baby home!

Music playing, softly each morning, more loudly during cookie decorating, and just plain old loud while tree-decking. I love filling the house with the sounds of Christmas, which for us have become Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Luna Moon, The Cambridge Singers, The Nutcracker, and (when Ryan’s not home — he doesn’t get the same warm fuzzies as I do!), Sandi Patty.

A growing collection of books to read all month, which I put by the tree this year. I have it in my head that I will sit by that tree with a brand new baby, doing nothing but reading books to my other sweet babes. Even without that new baby, I’d say the arrangement is working out just fine. I am so happy to just read out loud while they eat it up.

There are so many favorites, but this year I’m being asked to read The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree on repeat.

Meals that aren’t fancy, but certainly feel that way when you add candles and a bit of holiday prettiness. It’s amazing how easy it is to linger a bit longer when there are cookies to pass around as the candles burn low. December forces a quick and complete embrace of short days and cozy evenings — things we’ll cling to long after the holiday bins have been stored back in the basement.

Corners of the house that the kids can almost arrange themselves, so familiar are the decorations and arrangements. Oh, I have to have a really good reason for changing the location of anything from year to year!

Anticipation that doesn’t have to be taught. It only takes a few Decembers to realize that these cookies, these songs, these books, these moments — they are special.

family time

And right on the heels of a long-anticipated weekend away, we ended up with a week of family time! Since neither Ryan nor I are actually good at being home and vacationing (he’d be on the phone solving problems, I’d be deep-cleaning the freezer — but I have hope! One day!), we loaded ourselves and a week’s worth of books and games and groceries into the van and headed to another nearby lake.

There wasn’t much to do (the whole point!), and the five days slipped by to the tune of slow mornings together, little hikes and boat excursions, two birthday celebrations (William and Ryan), movies and books and puzzles, and just kind of being near Dad. No matter what he was doing.

We had rented this same cottage three summers ago, when Beattie wasn’t walking and William and Jameson were decidedly little boys. Arriving there again was nostalgic. This season of young children just changes so quickly. So quickly. Jameson is 9! William turned 7! It whirls and flies faster and faster, leaving me sometimes just gasping for a breath — and maybe crying, too. To know for certain that I will never, ever again be on a boat watching 3-year-old William experience the thrill of full throttle, arms in the air, eyes sparkling in the unique way they do… And I know again that my days with them are such a gift. I get to watch them, help them, introduce them to the world and its wonders, their growing gifts and personalities, truth and goodness and hope. I get to witness their moments and hours and days. It doesn’t always seem significant. Sometimes it’s a lot of moments of potty-helping and chore-reminding and conflict-resolving and super-hero-story-listening. But those moments are their lives, and I’m a part of these building-block moments that are adding up to men and women.

And truthfully, honestly, there aren’t many moments I wouldn’t gladly do once again. Even just for a minute, to build a train track with my baby Jameson, to sing a song to the happy baby William playing at my feet, to watch my doll-baby Beatrice smile at her brothers, to slip Fiona into the Ergo for a tromp in the snow… Those are moments no one else saw, no one else witnessed, no one else was a part. But I was. God picked me. Isn’t that amazing?

Yes, I’m very pregnant, but oh my! I am in tears, marveling at the way God uses me — ungifted as I often feel in every area pertaining to home management and school organization and even just babies! — to shape people.

I think I had some pictures to post, if I can just find them through my tear-blurred vision…

September

It’s November.

This blog-turned-family-journal is woefully behind. I thought once a month was bad. This once a quarter thing is really bad! Before a new baby comes and life takes turns that I can’t fully predict, some catching up:

September was warm and beautiful.

It was peaches and apples.

It was babies really starting to grow.

It was school! Rediscovering the magic of books, loving new math programs, discovering a whole new world called Ancient Egypt.

And it was Jameson turning nine. Nine.

A special shopping trip for taco fixings and ice cream cake ingredients and even lemonade. Lobbying to invite three friends instead of the customary two, and why not? Waking up with so much thankfulness for a day of forecasted sunshine. And finally, a yard full of running and laughing and ambushing and nerf-dart-shooting, light-saber-wielding boys and little sisters. Kind, happy, thoughtful young men.

We celebrated this boy who sits politely and listens intently as we share things we appreciate most about him. A boy who can think of nothing better than to share his candy with each birthday guest, even Mama and Daddy. Who bursts when he opens a sling shot and brand new fleece. Who stays up late poring over new books about Most Famous War Campaigns and How to Tie Knots and Severn Wonders and Famous Explorers.

He sings and hums his way through life. He cheerfully does any job asked of him and is growing to be not just a contributor, but a reliable and needed piece of this family puzzle. His eyes show love and concern for me, and the deepest of admiration for his daddy. He just likes to be with us and finding out he can go to work with Dad is the best news ever.

He’s playing piano and banging away on a new-to-us drum set (can you imagine how exciting it was to open those boxes??), reading the books I borrow from the library faster than I can pay the late fees to get more. He loves his soft and worn sweats and chamois shirt at home, and a tie and sports coat every chance he gets. His favorite outdoor activity is football, of course, because it’s football season and that’s how he rolls. Hands-on projects are his favorite, and sewing buttons is his newest skill set. He’s inquisitive, he’s sensitive, he’s loving and loves life.

More and more I truly mean that sharing life with him is a treat. I can’t believe I get to live all these years under the same roof with someone so great. Maybe the next 9 years will slow down a bit? Somehow I don’t think that’s at all how it works. So, fleeting as they may be, I will invest in these days together, by the grace of God.

I love this boy of mine.

Fiona’s 2nd birthday

Second birthdays are just so much fun. They are finally old enough to get it, but more than just getting it, these little people revel in being celebrated! Fiona doesn’t have a lot of words to say yet, but when I would say, “It’s almost your birthday!”, she would respond very clearly and excitedly with, “CAKE!”

So when she woke up on August 25 and I was pouring chocolate batter into cake pans, I’m pretty sure she couldn’t have gotten any happier if she’d tried!

We were in the middle of painting the kitchen floor, so I brought our cake and our pjs over to my parents’ house for a quick birthday party.

Pardon the number of similar photos. Her expressions are, to me, absolutely priceless!

august

August blew in fast and furious as Ryan and I worked with our friends to open the newest shop. This new life of business-owning-and-expanding is both exhausting and wonderful. We all roll up our sleeves together — even the kids, whose daily routines change constantly as the seasons of our family ebb and flow.

Along with that, August was also:

Trying very hard to get dinner on the table once in awhile!

The excitement of new curriculum trickling in via big brown boxes.

Little girls in Mama-made pjs that they just loved wearing. (Already too cold at night, for the most part, to wear such summer frippery!)

Celebrating my mom’s 60th birthday with a lovely outdoor evening.

Quick errands and getting to catch a glimpse of him training.

Backyard picnics!! Finally!

One serious garden day. Oh, it was wonderful!

A few crazy house projects, finished quickly, thanks to my trusty sidekicks Jameson and William, and dear friends Liz and Carol.

Bubbles.

Exhausted little girls who would nap anywhere (since I was oiling our hallway floor and we couldn’t use the bedrooms!)

A paint-spattered, growing belly.

26 weeks and growing an Olympic gymnast, I think.

This guy.

And so flew August.

July

It was a fly-by summer, like no other I’ve ever experienced. June days that hovered wet and cold around 50* made way for the months of July and August which were busy. But we did live, and since this blog is my family journal of sorts, I would feel badly to just pick up in September as though 10 weeks of our lives pooled away into thin air! So, a blog blitz of sorts.

I wrote this at the end of July:

We’ve been slowly ramping up since spring, heading toward what we knew would be another busy summer. And it has been. No garden days — I’m just happy to mow the lawn and pull out the most offensive weeds, planning what I will do “someday” this summer. No beach days — somehow the super hot ones seem to fall on the days that find me sitting with phone and laptop ALL DAY LONG. Not even many picnics in our own yard! BUT. Sounds of kids playing for hours and hours on their bikes, with their balls, picking wild berries and catching butterflies. Evening strolls around the house, inhaling the air and sight of whichever new flowers have opened (because perennials are just too forgiving when it comes to a lack of garden days!)

In the middle of days that just fly by and I’m lucky if the laundry is caught up, there are opportunities to pause. Isn’t that wonderful? To hold a chubby three-year-old hand as you walk down the hall; to sweep the toddler-baby off her feet as she runs ecstatically, calling your name; to pull my too-close-to-7 year old boy in for a hug which he always gladly reciprocates; to caress the still-soft cheek of my lanky oldest as he tells me a story. To embrace my husband when he walks in the door long after dinner, kiss him deeply and feel some of his tension melt. And for me, for us: to cut flowers after my walk and slip to the bakery for a treat of a breakfast, turning an empty-cupboard morning into a huge treat.

Besides trying my best to be all there and not miss those few precious moments of connecting and making home for my little family, July was also:


Parades with the best of children!


Childhood summer happening around lots of quick trips to Potsdam.


A trip to Maine with all of us.

Wide expanses of ocean, and family time.

A most-laid-back week for me and the kids on the St Lawrence river with my parents.

I was so thankful for those days away after (and before!) months and weeks of intense work on business endeavors. What a blessing!