I spend all those long summer days dreaming of autumn - of leaves crunching and wind rustling, of bright, crisp afternoons and leaf piles and acorn treasures and pumpkin-scented goodies. And our autumn was filled with all those lovely, russet-colored moments. But it was also filled with trips and deadlines and all the general busy-ness that seems to pick up towards the end of the year.
These photos are from a trip into the mountains with dear friends in early November. The leaves were still clinging and the water was swift and cold and the spice-scent of autumn was still heavy in the air. All that is gone now, of course. The Advent season is here and the winter solstice is just around the corner and, goodness, the year is almost over.
Our Decembers are a crazy collision of birthdays and holidays, plans and hosting and preparing. Every year, I create a long to-do list for the holiday season - crafts and sewing and decorating and baking and whole host of handmade gifts. And every year, I fall way short. Instead of the lovely pieced and quilted tree skirt, we have one from Target. Instead of the hand-crafted, customized Advent calendar, we have the little cardboard ones with the awful chocolate behind the squares (Juni and Owen, however, are huge fans of awful chocolate, so that worked out just fine). And instead of mostly handmade gifts, I will be lucky to finish two, perhaps three, things before Santa comes a-knockin'.
Winter, though, is surely the season for patience and letting go. And so, we will bake cookies and decorate gingerbread houses and sing Christmas songs and talk about Santa and little baby Kings in hushed, awe-filled voices and forget all those silly plans I made in the heat of summer. Perhaps next year.
"Is it going to have all the colors, mama? All of them?"
The pattern is the Forever Baby Blanket from the Purl Bee. It is an easy knit with a nice thick, squishy texture, perfect for snuggling. I'm using some bits of Dream in Color Classy yarn for the rainbow, inspired by Waldorfmama's beautiful garter stitch blanket. And for another lesson in letting go, Juni found a little embroidery scissors a few days ago and snipped the blanket in several places, forcing me to frog back a couple of stripes. Oh, the heartbreak. Now I have seven more days and five stripes to go before my baby girl turns three.
(And because I just happen to be posting about knitting on a Wednesday, I'm linking up with Ginny from small things for her wonderful knitting and reading Yarn Along. I just started reading The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan.)
It was her first time on a airplane in about a year. She had her own seat. And her own little backpack. As the plane sped down the runway, she yelled, "Wheeee!! We're going fast! We're going fast!" Throughout the flight, she kept up a running commentary on the clouds and the color of the airplane (blue) and the tops of the trees. She learned all about the airplane "rules" - buckle your seat belt, turn off your electronic devices during takeoff and landing, don't kick the seat in front of you. Upon landing, she shouted, "That was a close one!" I certainly hope not.
While the plane ride was fun, I think Juni had the most fun playing with Hayden - going to the park and farmer's market, playing in the baby pool and having a snack picnic, generally running amok in Craig and Gina's lovely house. There was the typical amount of elbowing and toy snatching, but there were also so many sweet hugs and toddler games and just gobs of little kid excitement.
As for Charlie and me, we got to catch up with old friends, discover a new city, eat incredible food, and watch our kids enjoy the last bits of summer together.
Juniper has always been up for an adventure. She thrives on new experiences, new places and faces and things to see. The excitement of a whole new house to explore, things to touch, places to run. She loves a road trip, chatting the whole time about all the things whizzing by outside the window, anticipating the destination, savoring the journey, giggling the whole time. She has always been that kid - fearless and adaptable.
Owen is wary of anything new. He is thoughtful and cautious and quick to startle. He enjoys the familiar and cozy and predictable. Regular naptimes, regular mealtimes, regular bedtimes. He cried pitifully, heartbreakingly for most of the many hours it took us to drive from North Carolina to southern New Jersey, wondering what on earth might warrant such long and uncomfortable travels.
We had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend with Charlie's family, mostly lounging by the pool or at the beach, enjoying the beautiful summer weather. Juni spent every moment she could in the water, splashing in the waves with her daddy or her uncle, kicking around the pool in her "floaty wings". "Look at me! I'm a Juni fish!" Indeed. When she wasn't channeling her inner fish, she was picking blueberries and riding the carousel on the boardwalk and zigzagging around the little zoo nearby (where she met the most adorable two-day-old baby camel).
Owen avoids the water and the sun, so he spent most of the weekend lounging and dozing and crawling around in the shady spots. He enjoyed a few moments of fun in the sand and a bit of toe-dangling in the pool before crawling back to the sand- and water-free safety of my lap with an expression of mild panic on his face. Though while crawling around on Grandmom's lovely new deck, he did manage to stumble upon some tasty ears of Jersey corn. Little adventures can be just as grand as big adventures, especially for this little guy.
With the much anticipated arrival of our little boy in October, this Fall promises to be one spent cozying up indoors with calming rituals and pumpkin-spiced goodies and the dizzying, disorienting, amazing new addition in our lives. Therefore, one last Summer adventure was in order.
Last weekend, our friend, Craig, invited us to stay at a lovely beach house in Emerald Isle, NC, with his family, his parents, and his sister's family. Juniper finally got to meet Ella and baby Hayden, and Charlie and I had a wonderful time chatting with friends, watching our children play, and enjoying the last bit of Summer by the shore.
Juniper is fearless when it comes to her love of the water. The hurricanes in the Atlantic had churned up the surf quite a bit, resulting in huge waves, strong currents, and rather dangerous swimming conditions. Without warning, Juni would charge toward the waterline, utterly delighting in the waves washing over her face and the currents dragging at her feet. Given how long it took to hoist my very pregnant self up off the sand each time she strayed, we are lucky Gina and Jennifer were there to hang on to her or I'm afraid she would have most certainly been carried out to sea to live with the mer-people.
Our final day there, we visited an area with calm, shallow tidal pools - much safer for our little wanderer and much easier on this mama's water-phobic nerves. Since our return, Juni has been begging to go back to the beach, squealing with delight at any photo of the ocean or the shoreline. Next Summer, little one.
The rest of our trip was spent at Charlie's family beach house near Essex, MA. Juniper took to the sea instantly, despite the frigid water temperatures and cool air, two things this Florida girl considers unacceptable for wading of any sort. My daughter, however, loved it, begging to go into the "bath" over and over again, though teeth chattered and lips turned purple. She splashed around in the water and stomped across the sand, gathering all manner of sea treasures and memories.
While the breezy, cool air, soft sunlight, and much relaxation were completely enjoyable, nothing beats watching your little girl fall in love with the ocean for the very first time.
Juni and I spent the first part of our New England adventures in Easton, MA, with Amy, Chris, Nolan, and Nina. Juni was thrilled to be reunited with her little buddy, Nina, who is only a few weeks older. Despite much toy-sharing drama, the girls had fun tooling around town, visiting an indoor playground, a kids's concert, and a children's museum. It was great to catch up with old friends, reminisce about our old Atlanta adventures, and watch our kids run around in the backyard.