In the middle of October's hustle and bustle, this guy turned two! TWO! And what a giant bundle of joy and purpose and laughter he is. He hops, skips, tumbles through the world with a big, open heart, taking it all in. He loves to sing and dance and play baseball. He loves smoothies and jigsaw puzzles. His smiling kisses and big, wide-armed hugs melt this mama's heart every single time. He moves and moves, chattering and giggling and narrating his day at the top of his lungs. But then he has moments of such peaceful, quiet concentration - building a castle, listening to a story, assembling a puzzle piece by piece.
He loves octagons and the color green. He loves trains and garbage trucks and the letter J. He adores his sister and will follow her unconditionally. They build forts and tell stories and jump off furniture into piles of pillows. She convinces him to fairy-dance and princess-twirl and he convinces her to play all-aboard-the-choo-choo-train and picking-up-the-garbage.
My knitty queue is a mile long with various woolie warm cozies for winter and dozens of knitted play crowns for our school's Holiday Faire. But I couldn't help putting everything on hold to knit up these stripey, gnomey Noro hats for the kiddos. The pattern is free on the Living Crafts blog. The yarn is some discontinued Noro Iro that I got for a very spiffy, discounted price some months back. The nifty playset was our end-of-summer treat to ourselves.
I look forward to October all year long - those spiced cider days brimming with golden light and leafy gusts that make your heart race and your arms reach out. Everything is full and bright and balanced on the edge. September's heat and bugs are gone. November's dusty decline is still almost a dream. October is my touchstone.
But this October was here and then it was gone - trips and weddings and busyness. Life took over and we tumble-jumbled through my favorite month. With all the push and pull of work and travel, I hurried us through our days, raising my voice much too often, directing the where and when with too much authority and too little grace and gentleness. Frustration was our constant house guest - mostly mine, sometimes hers. And now, as our days get shorter and our rhythms are returning, I hope for the calm and the quiet of the season, simplicity over excess and gratitude over obligation.
There were moments though, this crazy whirlwind October, when we left dinner unmade and turned our backs on the clutter, when all the to-do's and should-have-done's fell away. We stayed outside for hours, crunching in leaves and looking at clouds, our pockets full of acorns and seeds and forgotten things. We dug through the remnants of the vegetable garden and the withering flowerbeds and watched cardinals fight over space on the birdfeeder. There were moments, though far too few, when we drank in the season and felt full and bright and balanced on the edge.
This face. It tells you all you need to know. At any moment, it can tell you if his greatest wish is coming true or if his heart is breaking into little, tiny, whimpery pieces. Both of which happen many times in a day.
In this particular moment, it is telling you exactly how he feels about his new, mama-knit hat.
I knew this would happen when I started knitting this two-yarn, fingering weight topper. He rarely consents to wear a hat of any sort.
Unless he is about to swing a baseball bat. In which case, he most adamantly demands a baseball hat. And it doesn't matter one bit if that hat happens to be pink and four sizes too big.
My little hat, however, is now nestled in a pile of dust bunnies behind some furniture. In case you, too, want to knit up a spiffy yet unappreciated toddler beanie, here's the Ravelry link.
I think perhaps this particular hat has the potential to be adopted by someone with a more ecclectic and complex fashion sense.
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.