There are very few "Easter" pictures of my children on my camera. Since the week of Ash Wednesday, we having been waging war with adenovirus. And I'm telling you with all sincerity, it's one formidable foe. I have never encountered a childhood illness that lingers so long with such fierce intensity. There have been all the usual things: croup, bronchitis, vomiting, body aches, fever. And then, we have been visited by the more extreme manifestations, particularly swollen, oozy, eyes that drip blood for weeks on end. Every morning, I keep hoping that everyone will awaken and no one will require assistance just getting his or her eyes to open.
We had one bluebell day all together. And we had one bluebell day where several children stayed home and I went with the others to meet some ladies from the Restore Workshop. And that is all. Usually, we take a week and go every day. This year, we'd planned to camp there overnight. There are amazing flowers blooming on perfectly gorgeous spring days! And my children are so light sensitive that hardly anyone wants to be there. So we stay home.
So, in these days, I am particularly grateful for the tree blooming outside my front window. I'm inhaling its loveliness. (Well, actually, I hold my breath and just look at it because Bradford pear blooms are pretty stinky.) I am beyond grateful (what is the word for that?), that 90 tulip bulbs planted when Granddad died are showing up in all kinds of glory this week. Could it be that they heard that a baby is on her way and they've all come out to greet her?
And that baby... we are eagerly awaiting her arrival. Every day, Kristin comes to pass the time here. A tiny bit of sewing, some time in the garden, a daily walk where we just talk and talk. These are the tender mericies, the glimpses of Easter.
The Church has sung its Alleluia. I sort of feel like I missed it. Then I remember: Easter is a season.
New life. Happening soon.
By far, my favorite Easter basket ever. I think Garry Brix captured Shawn so perfectly!
If you have a moment, would you ask St. Lucy to say a prayer for us?
Late last week, I opened a gift of hand-dyed, handspun cashmere yarn. Elizabeth DeHority thought perhaps that I could knit something before Michael's baby arrives. She has always had a ridiculous (and uterly unreasonable) faith in my creative ability. I found the idea preposterous. But I remembered three years ago, when knitting was new to me and miraculously, I knit so many shrugs I might have lost count. So, I cast on. The reality is that my skills haven't progressed much in the last three years and those shrugs might be the only thing in which I have any degree of confidence. another tidbit? I knit most of those shrugs in medical waiting rooms that year. Turns out this year finds me waiting for doctors again. (Patrick is improving; thanks for your sweet concern.) Another pink shrug it is. I love those shrugs and this yarn is extraordinary and knitting is the perfect thing to do while one waits.
Will I finish before the baby girl arrives? I have no earthly idea. I do know that I can sort of see the potential for sitting and knitting and waiting amidst the bluebells in the next couple of weeks and that idea has all kinds of appeal. This waiting is so strange to me--to know that a baby is coming and to have absolutely nothing tangible to do while I wait is sort of crazy. All offers to help nest have been firmly declined. All my usual third trimester go-tos: stocking freezers, cleaning house, assembling baby equipment, long walks, pelvic rocks, packing bags, more pelvic rocks, midwife appointments, and bottomless glasses of water--none of those are in the grandmother realm this time (though I suppose it couldn't hurt me to clean my house and to take a long walk with a bottle of water;-). The one thing in my baby prep habits that remains is to pray hard--incessantly really--the way that I prayed myself into labor when every one of my babies was waiting to push its way into my arms. And so, that's what I do. Pray and pray and pray. This is uncharted territory for all of us, but prayers for pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum? Those are woven in wide ribbons through the fiber of my soul. Those I know.
I put aside the baby sewing a bit. This baby has everything she needs for those first few days. I think I have time to sew. And, frankly, I have a house full of children for whom some more utilitarian sewing is necessary. Dance competition season is upon us and I'm gathering ill-fitting costumes from nearly every class in the studio. There is much to be tucked and tacked and I'm really happy to do it. In the course of taking from a child a costume that doesn't work at all and making it something he or she is comfortable in and happy to wear, I usually get to know that child a bit. And I really, really like that. I like putting names to faces and being the friendly fingers that make an uncomfortable wardrobe situation a bit better.
And, it's not just my girls who need sewing. My boys have found ways to bring things to my attention, too. Please know that little mending item has not been sitting there since November. He found an out of date notepad. The task was dispatched the very same day.
I've been reading John Paul II this week, getting ready to celebrate his canonization, and honestly, looking at old, familiar words through eyes grown a little older and a perspective shifted just slightly from where it was when I was a young mom and he was a father on earth. I'm so grateful for the great cloud of witnesses, so glad to draw upon the wisdom and the grace and the faith of the people God gave me to love as I was learning about motherhood. We've suffered losses in the last year, tremendous losses of godly friends and influences. I'm surprised about how difficult it has been to come back to this place and to write again. I know well that revisiting grief over and over again in this space is not what I am called to do, but there have been more days than I ever imagined when I've just had nothing else to say. Much the way that birth transforms us--changes us every time--so, too does death. Every time.
There is no doubt that for our family this will forever be the season where death and birth walked hand in hand. It is much too soon for me to know what that means.
Tell me what your needles are busy doing. What you're reading in these last weeks of Lent?
I was so excited that the new Oh She Glows cookbook arrived yesterday. Even though my fasting was made perfectly simple thanks to a stomach bug, I spent several hours in bed yesterday doing some planning with a new vegan cookbook that I'd pre-ordered sometime last year. Menu planning while fighting a stomach bug is very similar to watching hours of Food Network to distract from morning sickness. It makes no sense at all, but I've done both. I found the Oh She Glows blog to be a treasure trove of inspiration and guidance. But really, I so prefer cookbooks to cooking blogs. I think my aversion to clicking and clicking again is especially pronounced with cooking blogs. However, I'm a bit of a cookbook addict.
This one didn't disappoint. I've put to paper three weeks worth of meal plans taken from this book. Already! I'm so excited to get started (just as soon as my digestive system catches up;-). I think it's going to be very family-friendly. I might need to toss in a chicken breast or a hamburger here and there if they start to protest about the lack of meat, but with Lent on my side and this new study to point to, I like my chances of going totally meatless more often than not.
As far as sewing goes, you get fabric again this week--lots of surprises in the works. Some pink. Some blue. Some for Michael's baby. Some for Bobby's baby. Both Kristin and Sloane have great midwives and they're both getting serious about getting ready-- the Easter season shines bright with anticipation. And the little aunties are busy as bees in the sewing room.
What about you? Sewing plans for Easter? Reading plans for Lent? Do share!
I welcome you to needle and thREAD. What have you been sewing lately? Or are you embroidering? Pulling a needle with thread through lovely fabric to make life more beautiful somehow? Would you share with us just a single photo and a brief description of what you're up to? Would you talk sewing and books with us? I'd love that so much. Tell me about it in the contents or leave a link to your blog. I'll be happy to come by and visit!
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It's been more of the same here this week. I did take on the Snow Queen challenge and spent some very happy time stitching up some magical snow on a tutu. We're all pretty happy with the result.
Beyond that, it's been gift sewing. Can't show too much of that. Here's just a bit:
I read and re-read Lidia Bastianich's Nonna, Tell Me a Story: Lidia's Christmas Kitchen. I have to admit, she had me at the title. This is a darling story of an Italian grandmother who shares her Christmas traditions with her grandchildren and then spruces those traditions up a bit to make them work in modern America. Just darling!
(I've created a new category here, Nonna's House. New season in the heart of our home.)
So tell us all about your reading and stitching! Do you have Christmas secrets you can share in the combox?
...that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures or wisdom and knowledge. ~Col 2:2
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