three is a magic number

Pillows and sheets scattered with dirt, sweaty cheeks leaned against my shoulder, a baby slewn across my soft tummy, a stack of new library books at our side.  These memories are as messy and fragile as they are untouchable and sweet.  Last night while singing the most commonly requested, “You are my sunshine” I was given a reminder at just how powerfully special these days actually are.  In response to the part that pleads, “don’t take my sunshine away”, I heard a little  voice whisper against my neck, “No one ever will mama.”  My heart.  It fell  in to my stomach.  The chaos of being outnumbered means we often have so many items on our to do list just to get everyone clothed and fed, it’s easy to skim right over these beautiful moments.  Because the truth is they are sloppy and unpredictable and very often breakable.  Small children can go from sweet and cuddly to wild and inconsolable in a matter of seconds; It is a very, very fine balance.  Most of the time, they last only long enough for me to take a deep breath and sigh it all in.  Then we are off, and on to the next thing.


So I am on the look out.

Wish me luck on my first week back at it alone.  I can’t say completely alone though because I feel the encouragement and support of so many friends and family.  We have been given so much love these last two weeks, and I am forever grateful.  Thank you! 

thank you

This eventful week has overshadowed anything else, so I have reported on little else.  The birth of a sweet little girl, with the same chubby cheeks that are so much a part of my genetic being, showing up on every newborn with even trace amounts of our ancestry… But it turns out this one has more in common with me than just my “oh my, I hung up on you again because my cheeks keep pressing buttons” or my “I can hardly see at all when I laugh because my cheeks cover my eyes”.  (Which by the way these are fully meant to be compliments, there is nothing quite so precious as the little cushions on the side of a babies face.  Nothing.)

In addition to those twisted spirals of DNA, I have the honor of sharing a name with this amazing little girl.  A compliment so large I have not been able to digest it entirely.  I can only think about it in quick spurts before my eyes well up and I have to move on.  I have hardly told a soul out of fear I will flush out my eyes in front of anyone around to witness.

As I sat in the hospital next to my slumbering sister-in-law, holding her heart in my hands, rocking her, watching the multitude of faces only a newborn can think up, the weight of this honor fell on me hard.  I opened her little palm and studied the creases.  I noticed the lines and traced them and retraced them, memorizing their pattern, and I think she quite liked it for she nodded off with a look of gentle contentment not unlike the face of her mothers.  They sighed in unison and tears formed in my eyes so big and wet I had to close them to make them slip back inside.

I am so honored that my brother and sister-in-law wanted me by their side as they experienced the most defining moment of their life’s span: The birth of their first child.  The night unfolded with unexpected twists, but a grace so strong it could be felt on every pore of my soul.  The love between these three hit me like a rock and I promise you, I was lucky to be there.  Birth is empowering.  My own boys birth was extraordinary.  But in the thick of it all, its such a tornado of emotion, you can hardly keep it all straight.  Having the eyes of an outsider was a gift I can never repay.  Thank you for letting me part of your story.  I am forever grateful.

All I know for sure is I take this whole auntie thing quite seriously.  If you have not noticed, I am surrounded in a house of boys, and while I rather like this set up, I have many secrets a girl may like to know too.  And I intend on passing them on to my three sweet nieces.  Welcome to the world, Soleil Mariah!

But, I promise.  We have done other things this week, while here by the salty sea.  

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There has been art camp and folk fest and swimming and sand castles.  Life is so full these days.  I feel like I am always running to catch them.  It is all I can do to just keep up.

word to my brother

Upon hearing the extraordinary news that my dear brother  and his miniature, adorable, and impossibly sweet wife were expecting their first child this summer, I immediately began creating a mini database of advice in my mind to reveal to them at a later date.  Each time a child would scream, something worked, something failed, a meal was easy, a meal was bad, basically any parenting score or fumble; I stored it away to pass onto them to ease their transition into parenthood.  You see, in my 29 years I have come to know that there is only happiness and suffering.  There is you, yourself feeling happiness and sometimes suffering.  There is seeing loved ones happy and occasionally suffering.  And then, then there is your brother feeling happiness or suffering.  For some reason, that relationship, (though sticky at times) is one of my most appreicated and honored of all.  I remember the one and only time I ever saw him cry, and though it was probably 20 years ago, to this day I cannot even tell the story without tears of my own.  And so to envision him sleep deprived, frustrated, in a tiff with his lady, or any other trauma that is typically seen with the welcoming of a new child,  I cringe.  I just love him I suppose.  So of course, I want to help.

Then I went up north to visit my sweet loving family and was so lucky to spend a few days with the two parents to be as well.  This is a treat, I assure you, for they are some busy folks.  I counted my lucky stars, drove with them to visit the location of their new home, and soaked up every ounce of excitement that so clearly seeped from their very souls.

And it turned out I didn’t have to unfold my folders of “knowledge” (you know.. I am a genius right?  geesh…).  My brother treats his girl like gold.  She is kind and patient.  They compromise, they are thoughtful, they are instinctual.


Like a bee.  Very instinctual.  (Really I just loved this photo and was looking for a good place to sneak it in at some point)

But, honestly my bro impressed the heck out of me.  He needs not a speck of advice from his little sister.  (Minus precisely what to do with the precious placenta, if I am to arrive after the birth:)  I love a lesson that helps me keep my mouth shut.  I need more of them I believe.  Bottom line, he is going to be an amazing father.  And though I never doubted for a second his girl would be anything less, my sweet sister in laws generosity and love will ease her into motherhood with grace and joy.

With that, all that is left to say is to take time to breath.  Live each moment purposefully.


Know that there sweet little dimpled hands become capable toddler hands, then children hands, then hands just like your own in less time than I can imagine I am sure.  So hold em tight.


Congrats to the parents to be.  Tiny socks, and mini cardigans are already on the needles in anticipation for the big day where I can adorn my niece or nephew in some good old fashioned handknits.  You two make me so happy, I am honored to be an auntie once again.

clean but not sterile

A weekend with the girls.  And my boys too of course.  A trip up north to visit old friends and see new sights was perfectly inspiring, enlightening, and exhausting alike.  No matter the circumstances, it seemed that the reoccurring theme remained the same:  Lively conversation.  When it was just us ladies driving about we discussed beautiful thought-provoking subjects.  In the evening over a glass of wine (so what if I was the only one indulging) we reviewed the oh so necessary details of birth with some mama’s to be.  After sleep finally overcame my little ones a veteran mother made light and joy of parenting in such a way that it was nothing short of contagious.  There were discussions directed at our destination for the trip in the first place; fermentation.  And then in turn the discussions I found myself having instead of such a lecture with a couple of mama’s and their children around a giant sand pile filled with treasures of rocks and shells and other interesting artifacts that can be dug with the right construction tools.

We embarked on our trip to Temple Maine specifically to attend a workshop on the magic and beauty of the fermentation transformation for storage of food.  While my girls took care and jotted down many notes, my little man was not quite as content as I anticipated, relaxing on my back for the duration.  So… we wandered.  And we chatted with some others in quite the same boat.  At first I felt a little left out and disappointed that yet another opportunity had been missed.  But then things changed.

With thoughts on homeschooling, child-rearing, home building, and playing alike I realized I wasn’t really missing out after all.  I had grand views of this family’s courage and grace with the world around them.  My littlest boy brought me all over the property in a way I surely would not have experienced otherwise.  He allowed me befriend these two ladies when without a doubt I would have been too busy had he not been ready to explore.  And I would have completely missed the joyful conversation I had with the homesteader’s five-year old son about the current rain conditions, the state of their climbing tree’s (or lack their of) and general knowledge of the earth around him.  This was by far the most fascinating part of my experience at The Living Local School.  First hand I saw the outcome of a boy brought up with out (or with depending on which way you look at it…  I prefer the latter).  He stood atop the mountain of sand with his hard hat firmly in place, barefoot and dirty, deeply invsested in his immediate surroundings.  Not something you view on your average five year old.  I have to admit.

Of course, I did spend some time in the classroom…

The weekend so beautiful, so serene, was yet another reminder to open my eyes.  Just see.  Just be.