Saturday, December 29, 2018

Comfy And Cozy Are We

I never got around to posting this project last year, but it's been such a success that I thought it merited a post. My ears had endured several chilly winters in Virginia before I was struck with the (obvious) solution to knit a hat to keep them warm. After so many years in Florida, wool hats did not seem like a necessary winter accessory!

I opted for the Lake Reed pattern, which I thoroughly enjoyed knitting. I used leftover wool from my White Pine cardigan (how did I end up with several extra skeins?), and love the cheery color. It was lovely knitting up something fast after working on the White Pine!

I also made up a pair of fingerless mitts (fingerless mostly because I wasn't confident that I could do full gloves!), and used the Fast and Easy Fingerless Mitt pattern. I over-complicated the pattern by adding a patterned section to the tops. It's not quite centered when I wear them, despite my careful calculations, but I still like it!

I love how useful these projects have been -- they're certainly doing the job of keeping me warmer in chilly temps, and it's rewarding being able to use a hand-knitted project frequently. 

Comfy and cozy are we -- now if I could just wear them for an actual sleigh ride...

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Home Stretch

With the end of the year looming and our move not far behind, everything feels a bit blurred. We still have a list of last-minute house projects to finish so we can rent out our home (though we've made some significant dents in it lately -- thanks Dad!), and somehow the list of handmade Christmas gifts did get finished. I'm breathing deep, knowing that everything that needs to be done will be done. 

Beautiful Belle Isle in Richmond

Our next destination will be quite different to our current "view," and I've spent the past few months soaking up the changing foliage (though the leaves had still not changed much when I took these photos in late October). We even had a snow flurry a few weeks ago! 

I'm enjoying my children so much these days, which I think is due to a shift in my attitude more than a change in them. Laddie's personality is blossoming, and now that he is speaking more I love to hear what his little three-year-old mind comes up with. Scout is walking everywhere now, and amusing us with his mischievous antics (full disclosure: I'm not always amused. His love for books is encouraging, but currently results in damage or destruction...). And Little Man and Rosa are growing by leaps and bounds. It's such a delight to teach them and watch their minds absorb new concepts, though at the same time it's terrifying as a parent to realize that I can't fix them. Which shouldn't be surprising, considering that I can't "fix" myself, either. I'm learning (slowly) to trust the One who can save and sanctify them, rather than relying on my own efforts.

Waiting for Daddy after a detachment

It's a season of surrender for me just now.

Surrendering my idea of how my family should look (I certainly never planned two miscarriages when "writing" my story) and accepting that God has a plan for us far better than any I could concoct.

Surrendering my desire to have everything planned out and accepting that our nebulous housing options at our new duty station will be just fine, no matter where we end up living.

Surrendering that I can't control my children's hearts and minds and accepting that I'm just called to be faithful in training and loving them, day in and day out, without guarantees that I'll get the "results" I hope for.

While it may be painful, it's good to be reminded of my dependence on God; it's easy to think that I've got it all under control when life seems "good" to me, but that illusion is (mercifully) shattered when life starts coming apart at the seams.

I find myself hoping that 2019 will be less difficult and painful for our family in many ways -- but regardless of what the year holds in store, I know that the Lord will work everything for His glory and our good, and I can't really ask for more than that.

.:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:1-6

Saturday, December 15, 2018

For Unto Us: A Grief Reobserved

When we lost our first baby almost five years ago, it was a watershed moment in my life. Instantly, we became part of the unwilling "club" of parents who have lost a child -- a membership I'd hoped I'd never have. While the grief of losing a child will never fully fade, the passage of time and the birth of two babies in the interval have softened the sting. Thoughts of our daughter are now wistful might-have-beens.

With a sixth pregnancy underway, I asked the Lord to help me hold this gift loosely -- trusting Him with the outcome. I hoped that we'd be blessed with a healthy baby, and was grateful for an easy pregnancy. And then, the day before my 16 week appointment, I began to suspect something was wrong. My appointment the next day confirmed my worst fears. Our baby was already gone.

All-too-familiar emotions washed over me. How could this be happening again? I'd convinced myself that our first loss was a "fluke" (humanly speaking), and while I knew mentally that loss can happen at any stage of pregnancy, I'd breathed a sigh of relief when I crossed that first trimester threshold. Even now the grief is too raw for me to wrap my mind around it. 

For unto us a child was born -- too soon, too small, too perfect for words. Blessedly, he was born at home before the scheduled D&E. While I still needed the procedure, it no longer held the same dread because he'd already come. In fact, I welcomed the idea of general anesthesia; at least for a little while I would be literally unconscious to the emotional pain of losing my son. But numbness wears off, and in its wake I struggled -- still struggle -- to deal with the hormone-accentuated grief. As Christmas carols echo in stores, on the radio, in my mind, I keep coming back to one:

Born that man no more may die.

Death has made itself an unwelcome guest in our home for a second time. But we do not grieve without hope -- a Savior has already come, taken on our flesh, died to atone for our sin, and risen from the dead. He has defeated death by His own death and resurrection, forever depriving it of its sting. And when He returns, death will be a thing of the past. While I don't believe the Bible directly addresses what happens to miscarried babies, I do know that I can trust that whatever God wills is right. He created our baby and trusted him to us for a few brief weeks; we can trust Him with our little one for eternity.

Life hasn't lost all of its sweetness, and I cling to the gifts I see around me with a fresh awareness of how precious they are. Too often I take my sweet family for granted, forgetting that they are blessings I don't deserve and can't retain in my own strength. I also think of the not-so-small mercies that mark the past few weeks. If I hadn't started spotting the day before that appointment, I'd have been completely blindsided by the news. My appointment was scheduled with my favorite midwife at my practice. The doctor on call at the hospital for my D&E was the only OB/GYN I've seen at my (rather large) practice, and she remembered my husband and me from the few appointments we had with her at the beginning of Scout's pregnancy. Everywhere I turn, I see God's care and goodness in the midst of the pain and confusion.

Miscarriage seems so futile. Why should a life end before it's even entered the world? And yet, I ask myself, when would it have been "okay?" I recently read of someone who lost a healthy baby at full term. There's a family in our community who just lost their one-year-old to cancer after a year-long battle. My own grandmother lost a son at seven years old (the day before his eighth birthday, which hits home for me this year as my oldest son just turned eight this month) and a middle-aged daughter many years later. Had my baby lived, it's not as if we would have been guaranteed he'd be have a long, healthy life. That knowledge doesn't dull the pain of his loss, but it helps me keep my perspective when my heart can't see straight. 

Step by step, God will lead us down this road again. He is comforting us and will continue to do so. And though it's hard to imagine, He will bring us to a place where we can look back on this time with less anguish. But standing here, only a few steps down that road, every fiber of my being just wants to rewind, to go back to a time when we were blissfully hopeful, blissfully ignorant of what lay ahead. 

Behold, I go forward, but He is not there,

and backward, but I do not perceive Him;

on the left hand when He is working, I do not behold Him;
He turns to the right hand, but I do not see Him.
But He knows the way that I take;
when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

Job 23:8-10, ESV

We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we grieve for our little one.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Coming Into Port: The Starboard Sweater

I hadn't knit anything for Little Man in a while, so I decided a simple pullover sweater was in order -- preferably something gender neutral, so it can be used by all of his younger siblings! I picked the "Starboard" pattern by Alicia Plummer, and armed with my skeins of KnitPicks Cotlin (a 10% cotton, 30% linen blend) in Creme Brulee, I cast on.

I really thought I'd enjoy a simpler project -- This sweater is knit in the round, so it is primarily knit stitches. And while I certainly did enjoy the ease of being able to knit "mindlessly," I did miss the variety of having an interesting stitch pattern. 

I don't think the neckline gaps that much when Little Man is wearing it -- at least, I hope not!

In the end, I'm pleased with the result. I did forget to reduce my needle size at the body and sleeve hems! Fortunately it's not a big deal with the style of the sweater, and it's something I could undo and fix relatively easily. Not that I will... *wink*

My only change to the pattern was to omit the pockets as written, and add just one patch pocket at the end. I was a bit muddled by the pocket instructions, and I wasn't quite sure I liked the way they looked in the pattern photos. This was a simple alternative, and seemed to work even though I completely winged it.

I don't think CotLin "blocks" very well; it's supposed to be dryer safe, so I might give that a shot. But it's supposed to be a very casual style, and Little Man is quite pleased with it. I'm not elated about this project and doubt I'll try the pattern again, but I always learn something from each project and if I end up with a wearable garment at the end -- so much the better!

And best of all, when one project comes into port, it's time to start another...

Raveled here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Merryweather, Muted

When I made my "Merry and Bright" dress from Birch Organic's Merryweather fabric line, I also purchased the same print in the slate colorway. I wasn't kidding when I declared my love for that fabric!

I wasn't sure what pattern to use for this fabric -- I could make the same exact dress (Butterick 5242), but didn't want to be too redundant. I had seen out-of-print Simplicity 2369, and based on the rave reviews it got, I ordered an inexpensive copy from Ebay. 

In the end... I wish I had used a different pattern! While I was able to make this dress work, I wasn't entirely pleased with how it turned out. I had to make a number of changes -- taking in the top sleeve seams, changing both the height of the ties and which side one of the ties was on (mine ties in the back now), altering the bottom hem of the "wrap" bodice, adjusting the center back seam, and some other more minor tweaks. 

When I finished my other Merryweather dress, I was incredibly happy with the outcome. When I finished this dress, I felt much less enthusiastic (but very relieved to be done!). It may have been partly due to my fabric, which is perhaps a bit heavier than it should be for this pattern. It may have been partly due to the fabric print, which is admittedly busy and hides some of the pattern's details. I honestly think this pattern would work better on someone with a more hourglass figure -- a larger bust and smaller waist would definitely help.

Focusing on the positive, I did end up with a comfortable, wearable dress in a fabric that I love. I can even use the same "Mineral" colored demi cami that I made for my other Merryweather dress, which is one of the perks of using fabrics in the same family. And this dress does fit my requirements of being postpartum/nursing friendly, which will be useful after our fifth baby is born -- though the rather unforgiving fit means I'll probably need to wait a while until my "mummy tummy" has gone down before I wear it! Or maybe just until my vanity has gone down... *cough*

These pictures were obviously taken a while ago,
before my current pregnancy started "showing"

Not every project is destined to be a favorite, but I think by the time I pull this out next summer/fall (I've already had to put it away for this pregnancy -- again, unforgiving fit!) I'll be quite content with it. And there's nothing like a chubby photo bomber to make your day better...

My hair is Scout's "security blanket," as you can see in this photo!
He almost always has a grip on my hair.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Farewell to Summer

Yes, I do realize that Summer's been over for a while now. But while I missed the reasonable time frame for such a post, it's been such a lovely summer that I can't bear to let it go without one last hurrah. I honestly can't remember when I've enjoyed a summer more -- usually it's my least favorite season because of the unforgiving, relentless HEAT. This summer, though, seemed milder. Or perhaps I was more tolerant? Either way, it was really perfect. And while I'm typically wordy, I'll let a few end-of-summer snapshots do the talking:

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Only Constant

We're no strangers to change -- a growing family and military career will see to that! Change is almost always in the air for us, and next year will be no exception. We'll be heading out west (way out west, not to be trite) early in the year as my husband starts his next duty tour with the Navy. It was exactly the spot he wanted, and we're thrilled for that and for the new adventures we'll have -- neither of us have ever lived in that area of the country, and we're gloating over the plethora of state and national parks that will be available to us.

We recently explored a park on the banks of the James River -- finding a dead
fish carcass on the shore was a definite highlight for my children...

Once we've moved (almost) all the way across the country, we'll have a few months to settle in before we welcome a new member of our family, Lord willing in late spring! I'm on the brink of the second trimester, which has seemed to take an eternity. I'm not very patient when it comes to waiting for babies, though you'd think by now I'd have learned! Once again, I'm grateful to God for the way He works -- due to some "abnormalities" with my body's timing, I really didn't think I could get pregnant. But, of course, God loves to work past the limits we impose with our human reasoning. Our older children are so excited (about a week ago Little Man told me at bed time to "take care of the baby in your womb"), though they are hoping for a girl so that Rosa will have a sister.

I'm so grateful for good health thus far, and also the easiest pregnancy I've had to date. I've had virtually no nausea and my energy levels have been manageable -- both of which I'm attributing to a quality probiotic and more consistent use of spray-on magnesium oil (magnesium chloride flakes mixed equal parts with boiling distilled water is quite cost effective), since that's the only change I've made since my last pregnancy. Once in a while I'll feel a tinge of nausea, but it's usually short-lived and my stash of Glee gum seems to help. In fact, I often find myself forgetting that I'm pregnant at all. Although my already-visible baby bump quickly reminds me... *wink*

I'm trying to savor these last weeks in Virginia -- we've been exploring some places that we'd put off seeing. One such spot was Bacon's Castle, which is the oldest surviving brick house in the United States (the left side was built in 1665), among other notable things. Interestingly, the house is known as "Bacon's Castle" because it was overtaken by rebels led by Nathaniel Bacon in 1676 -- even though it's likely he never even came to the house! I had no idea that he and his men were responsible for burning down Jamestown, which is why it's now really just a ruin/archaeological site. Bacon died from dysentery just over a month later, and the rebellion fizzled out. And that's your history lesson for today. It's a chapter in America's past that I'd never even heard of!

We were only slightly disappointed that Bacon's Castle is not really a
castle -- and not made out of bacon, either! We checked...

Of course, I'm now wringing my hands as I consider all the places we didn't go -- but I have to remind myself that we may very well end up here again, and in that case our children will be older and better able to enjoy and remember the places we visit. And we still have time for a few more adventures!

It's easy to become overwhelmed with all that has to be done before we move, and the uncertainty of our housing situation once we arrive. But I remind myself that God's mercies are new every morning, and that He will give us the strength to make this transition -- even if it's not as effortless and simple as I'd like it to be.

But until then, there's life to live -- schooling for the littles, sweaters that won't knit themselves, and all the ordinary day-to-day. These are the moments that won't change, regardless of our location on a map. We're holding on to the familiar, but looking forward to what next year has in store!

Thursday, November 08, 2018

November Yarn Along: Fast and Slow

Somehow, October is already over. Between a downed desktop computer, a much-anticipated visit from dear family, and as many outdoor adventures as we can fit in before winter arrives, the month has slipped away. 

But I was knitting! I cast on a Master Charles sweater early in October, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm knitting it up in a size four for Laddie (who really doesn't need another sweater this year, but I've had plans for this since last year), and it's lovely to make something in a smallish size. It knits up so quickly! The basketweave cables in the center front are such a beautiful feature, and so far the only real change I've made has been to omit the back details -- I don't think the sweater needs it. I love the tweedy yarn and the color. A perfect fall knit.

I love it when I have the perfect bookmark -- I got this one through Zazzle, and had it printed with my own design
(though obviously not my own words!)

I just have a few more rows of the second sleeve and the sleeve cap to finish, and then I can sew in the sleeves and block it! Of course, as soon as I finish I'll be casting on the same sweater in size 2 for Scout (matching sweaters!) -- but that will presumably knit up even faster, since it's smaller? I think I have enough momentum to get a second sweater done. Though this pattern requires more yarn joining (with weaving it to follow) than any pattern I've yet encountered.

I had to smile when I opened up Ginny's Yarn Along post for November -- I'm also reading The Fellowship of the Ring. It's been years since I read The Lord of the Rings, though I read it often as a teenager. I found beautiful editions of the books at Barnes and Noble for $21 (for all three!), but have never read them. While my sweater may be knitting up fast, this book is reading slow. Intentionally. I used to devour books as quickly as possible, partly because I had the time before marriage and children became part of my life! While I still go through reading spurts occasionally, I find myself savoring books more than I used to. I expect it to take quite a bit of time to get through The Lord of the Rings, and I'm quite content with that. I'm reading other books alongside, quicker reads (libraries have due dates!), but this is my comfort read. I always forget how much I love Tolkien's writing when I'm not actually reading it.

Fast and slow. Perhaps that's balance? In any case, both my knitting and Tolkien's words bring calm to my often flurried mind, and that's welcome, indeed. The close of the year is approaching, and next year will bring some significant changes for our family -- in a good way, but change always brings challenges and adjustment. Right now, I'm holding on to familiar.  

Linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along