sisters and quadrupeds

Friends,

We have been resting these past two days in North Carolina at the beautiful and historic Mast Farm Inn after several stretches of long (for children) driving episodes from San Antonio. Since we arrived here, these two sisters have been out with the animals every moment possible. I can’t really blame them, even if they fed all of our apples I was saving (for car snacks) to that horse and donkey. I love that donkey in particular, and I can’t explain why… We have stayed here now three times and each time I see him I can’t help but smile when I see his sweet eyes and big ears. So endearing.

Overall, we are doing very well though thankful for this much-needed rest before we meet the truck in DC with all our household goods the day after we arrive (and the ensuing hard work of unpacking and setting up another home). I confess I am already overwhelmed and tired by the mere prospect of the work that awaits us, but it is always hardest to push through to the end of these kinds of transitions, much like childbirth (at least for me). In this case, the carrot dangling on the end of the stick is the luxury of being able to stay in one place for three full years!

For this long road trip we have so far stayed in Dallas, Little Rock, Nashville and now Banner Elk, NC, putting in 5 hour days in our packed car, thankful to be driving out of that part of the country for the time being, heading towards weather that seems (to us northerners, anyhow) more fitting for the season. So far all has gone smoothly in every way, our children have been wonderful and everyone healthy so far, and we are so thankful for that.

 

five

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Another autumn birthday here — We’ve a five year old daughter in our midst nowadays.  (I have a mind full of clichés about how fast the time flies but I will spare you the pain. ;))

There were so many things I had wanted to do for her for this birthday — specifically with regards to making — but there just has not been the time with our up-coming move along with everything else going on (and while being pregnant myself and very tired, naturally, because of it).  Though I usually tend to complete things relatively quickly (or rather, compulsively) I have almost a whole sweater knit up for her, save one sleeve, as well as two dresses cut out to be sewn together, all of which is sadly sitting in a basket on my sewing table, to be completed later when the dust settles (and when these things are no longer her size, I imagine).  But what she was given for her special day — a butterfly kite, a collection of “Brambly Hedge” books (so beautiful and ordered from England) and an up-graded pink scooter — were more than enough to satisfy her.  Mostly she loved the balloons and flowers and chocolate butterfly cake I made her (with about six sticks of butter) and especially the fact that we could eat said cake for breakfast! in the early hours of dawn before a long day ahead of work and play.

She loved her small, (very) simple candle-lit birthday party, but she is easy to please.  Overall, she is a very grateful child — something that seems very natural to her and something I hope she always keeps.  I’m very thankful for her enthusiasm and cheerfulness, as so often, these small people cause me to re-evaluate my own selfish, unkind ways, hopeful for change in my own character as I grow along side them.

So with all the family autumn birthdays behind us, I am now full-on attacking my pre-packing, planning and organizing duties among all the myriad last details that seem to mount up with an imminent family household relocation (we are counting down the days, there are so few left before we head out), trying to not get overwhelmed and anxious as I usually do, counting my blessings as we go, holding onto the sweet reminder of being grateful in the simple things.

 

two

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Someone turned two in our family a few weeks ago and we celebrated with a handmade birthday — a delight to make and a delight to give to our baby daughter.  It was a small and simple family celebration, which is much more our family style, and she loved everything we made her.

I sewed her a mother cat and her kittens (the three kittens live in her skirt), which was instantly beloved (I knew she would love it) and hand knit her a tea leaves cardigan sweater with the most soft and lovely wool imaginable which she will need for our move up North in a few weeks (but won’t wear here because it is too hot for a sweater still!)  And of course, her felt birthday crown, a requisite for any party, which didn’t last too long on her head, naturally…  All things made with tremendous love.

Her siblings made her necklaces out of wooden beads (this baby girl loves necklaces) and we baked her an apfel kuchen for her special birthday cake, seeing as how she is our second German-born daughter.  We decorated with simple flowers and candles and pumpkins and gourds, all beautiful autumn things that remind me of when I was a heavily pregnant mother, waiting and waiting for her to arrive.

The time has just evaporated it seems, with so many big changes in our lives since her birth.  She has lived in two different states and two different countries since she was born into our family two years ago, a rather epic and auspicious beginning for any child, I think.  The delight and joy she brings us is immeasurable — her wittiness and cleverness in word and action make us laugh all the time and cause us to remark on how very cute she is and how much we love her and how thankful we are for her life.

Thank you God for this beautiful child we have the privilege of raising and calling our own, for answering our prayers for her life, her birth, her presence, her love, for bringing this world so much joy and beauty through her very being.

away

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At the last minute, we were given the rare opportunity (this year, anyhow) for my husband to unexpectedly take some time from work.  And somehow, ever the great researcher, Andrew pulled together a trip with some super-bargain flights and off-season car and home rentals for a family of five in record time.  He never ceases to amaze me in his trip-planning skills (I have absolutely nothing to do with any of it).

Wanting to desperately escape this ever-present heat here (which has yet to break — and I am thinking it never will), we headed back to Breckenridge, Colorado, where we spent a week earlier this summer and loved. A quick flight for us and another chance to visit some wonderful family in the area whom our children and I have just gotten to know — Andrew’s Grandparents — were the location-deciding factors.  (Andrew and his family are all native Coloradans.)  Plus, it was my birthday week and I am a lover of Autumn — the real deal Autumn, that is — and my thoughtful husband knows this.

It always takes me awhile to adjust to the altitude (our cabin was at 9,800 feet) but once I did it was a lovely week of color, shape and fresh air.  We took our ‘home’ school on the road and did some learning outside (they are always learning), Eithne particularly interested in drawing the landscape around her.  We hiked a bit around the trails next to our cabin and further up the mountain, but most of our walking was in pretty short clips, with an almost-two-year-old not wanting to be carried (“NO!  I walk, mama!”).  She held her own pretty well most of the time, but she’s still only a baby, so we kept things short and sweet for all involved.

We visited an old railroad and a pioneer museum engineered towards children and we all learned a whole lot.  Many of the things we saw actually reminded me of furniture and antique items my parents owned when I was younger and living at home, even though that was in upstate New York.  (I know– pretty big difference between NY and CO.  But I do miss all the antiques and interesting bits and bobs you can find in New England….  I miss a whole lot about ‘home’.)

This trip came at a remarkably helpful time in a significant way:  The day before we left, we were told where we would be moving in December.  Usually folks are given 6 months notice, but not these days– we have a very short window in which to prepare.  So our week away gave us time to process everything, to make plans and to come together as a family, because frankly, I had wanted to stay here for a variety of reasons (though I know I have often commented negatively on the insects and heat–but every place has negatives as well as positives).  Mostly I wanted to stay here to catch our breath from a most intense stretch of time (and because I really like our house and my midwife).  But it was and is not to be and so we press onto the next chapter, adventuring through this life together hand in hand, trusting God to provide yet again.

So from Germany to South Carolina to Texas to…… Washington, DC!! in 1.5 years time.  A whole lot of household moves, indeed.  Four different cities, four different homes in a year and a half!– a whole lot of work, of starting over and of traveling pretty great distances with small children.  But it is a great assignment for us and we are so thankful to not be caught up in or assigned to many other things that could be so much harder for us.  And we are so thankful to be back with dear friends, close to our families, back to the four seasons, back to maybe some violin playing for me (!), and back to a great place to explore (for free) as a homeschooling family.

I know that home is where your people are and where love is, but it is sometimes hard for me to ignore the importance of actual location.  Still as an adult, twenty years after I left my childhood home, I think of upstate NY as ‘home’.  When I see the Catskill Mountains or the Hudson River, or anywhere in New England I know that I am ‘home’.  And for me, this returning to Washington, DC in two months is a bit like returning to my second home, having lived there for 6 years as a professional violinist, pre-marriage and children.  But I grieve for my children who do not know place or a steady, unchanging community (other than Zeb who remembers his first five years of life in Germany).  They are not fully aware of it (yet) and do not know what they are missing, but I do.  Some days I think that perhaps they are gaining something I did not have in being rooted to a place?  Surely they are true international, global citizens — which counts for something, I know.  And it goes without saying that they have seen and experienced more of the world in their short lives than most grown adults ever do.  It is just so very different from how I was raised or how I ever envisioned raising a family, and of course, every mother worries about these things for her children.

So the challenges of making another home loom on the horizon —  all the wonder of it and all the bone-deep commitment required for big change.  The Colorado vistas and fall colors and fresh air of this past week reminded me that beauty is everywhere in this world and that happiness, for me, for all of us, is being with the people we so deeply love– and that for my little ones, home is truly wherever we are as a family.

lingering longer

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It is back-to-school in these parts — some starting this week and the rest next — so the park was ours in its entirety this morning.  As of yet, we have no intention of turning the page on our mental calendar — It is still summer!  And so we will play and run and swim and climb and create just like usual — lingering longer in this time of year, carefree and boundless.