The first day of school. When I see this photo, I can't help but think how those first days of school come and go, year after year. The nervous excitement, the newness and anticipation. She was so very ready to start school again. And perhaps we were all ready for that bit of structure and rhythm after summer's freedom.
The pattern is the Charlotte Apron Dress from The Cottage Mama. This apron style was only way I could figure out how to incorporate that bit of delightfully odd and fantastical elephant fabric by Tina Givens into a little-girl dress. She has been calling this dress her special school dress. It is particularly twirly and inspires elaborate slow-motion dance routines, with waving arms and a dramatically tilted chin.
Pretty soon he'll be spiffing up for his first day of school as well. For now, he just misses his big sister.
This guy. So much snuggly sweetness in such a compact and adorable little package. He's just bursting with personality these days. He has so much to say. He notices. He asks questions. He fills our days with humor and joy and delight and loud, high pitched song. To say that his mama, daddy, and sister adore him is a tremendous understatement.
These photos are from a recent farm visit. The kids got to pick (and nibble) vegetables from the garden, including that monstrous okra that Owen is digging into below. He loved the chickens. Is there anything better than kids and chickens? He was all giggles and wiggles when they were let out of their barn - petting them and feeding them scraps from the garden and yelling, Hi Chicken, over and over again. Naturally, he wanted to bring one home.
Juni was more intimidated by the flurry of fifty-some chickens and turkeys flapping all around us and stayed quite out of their way. But then she managed to witness one little lady lay a pretty blue-green egg right in front of her. And she fell in love as well.
The last bits of our summer have been lovely and crazy in many ways. We've had long travels and many gatherings and the start of a new school year.
And the whole time I've been trying to wrap my head around my (part-time) return to work. I could write pages about this subject, about motherhood and expectations, about the value of work in the home, about guilt and time and nurturing and all these things that mamas juggle every day. About why I felt like I need to return to work and why I feel conflicted now. But I've had these conversations a hundred times in my head already and I'm tired of them.
Like every year, I look to Autumn with a sigh of relief. Summer's heat and long hours make me feel tense and untethered and I'm glad that our days have structure and rhythm again. I'm glad to begin the slow contracting, the breathing in, of the season.
Juniper is glad that school has started and that acorns are just beginning to fall. She spends her days dancing her fairy dances and creating elaborate princess costumes and pretending to be a Super Bunny (to the rescue!). Her days are full-to-the-brim, with energy and curiosity and, often, frustrations. She always has something to say. She tells us delightfully convoluted stories and treats us to long, winding explanations for the simplest of things. She always trusts her own opinions and will argue her point-of-view interminably (yes, but I don't think so, mama). Her little-girl world is all rainbows and pixie dust and joyful movement and we are lucky to have a glimpse of it.
I just came across these photos of my little elfin girl from back in May. She was picking lavender and dancing around in the driveway (princess dancing, of course). Now she is two months older. And so much older. I don't know why she's wearing a wool hat in May, but chances are, if she's wearing a hat, he'll have one as well.
I love pinafore-style dresses and tops. This one is the Sandpiper Top by Clever Charlotte (fabric from the Feather n Stitch collection by Sarah Watts). I also made a baby set a while ago using the Mayah Reversible Pinafore pattern by Sew Sweet Patterns. Pinafores for everyone!
I haven't done a wonderful job taking photos of all my recent handmades, but I couldn't resist snapping these of Juni snuggling the dolls I made for some new little babies that joined us this spring. Her pretty felted crown was made by her teacher for her special "half-birthday" celebration at school (since she wasn't enrolled in school yet on her actual birthday).
Somehow, I blinked and Summer arrived. I never know what to do with Summer. I always think our days will move at a slower, lazier pace, but then there are trips and parties and summer camps and grants to write and yet another case of pneumonia (me). The days, of course, have been hot, unbearably impossibly hot. But the nights have been filled with fireflies and clear moonlight and Juni tells me that all that "fairy magic" keeps us safe while we sleep (safe from pigs and dinosaurs, that is).
The garden, which was happily chugging along all Spring, has exploded into the desperate, wild growth of Summer - tall, tall tomato plants, peppers popping up all over the place, monstrous zucchini, things bolting and seeding everywhere, true photosynthetic chaos in the face of my nonexistent gardening skills. Between the vegetable garden and the peach tree, the deer, squirrels, and rabbits are never bored around here. And between the dirt and the animals, neither are the kids.
Owen is happy to spend the afternoons mowing the grass or playing T-ball or looking for worms in the garden. Juniper has been riding her bike and watering the flowers and swiming in the pool every evening, all the while loudly lamenting the fact that school is closed. I've been working and agonizing over work decisions and knitting Winter sweaters in 100 degree heat and wondering when exactly my babies got so big.
On Friday, the Early Childhood students at Juniper's school had their May Day celebration and family picnic. We made flower crowns (with lavender from our garden!) and watched the Kindergarten children dance around the May pole. Juni was thrilled with such a special day at school with her friends.
I made Juni's May Day dress using the Sunny Scallop Dress pattern by Jona G. and a couple of simple calicos from JoAnns. Despite the complete lack of pink or sparkles, Juni says it is still "princessy", which is the only fashion metric that matters these days.