Friday, October 15, 2010

oh autumn

I can't figure out why this season's change is making me anxious. In the past few years, this time of year has captivated me. I watch each tree, each color. See how the landscape opens up, wide and vast, as the leaves slowly disappear. The sun shifts to an angle, and all of the shadows fall differently. All of the classic, cliche "fall" stuff. Even people in sunny south Florida (sorry friends) try to pretend that they feel a change. We just want it so bad. We want a reprieve from the heat. From the long, hot days often filled with hard work. Ready for change...

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

Why am I so hesitant? Maybe my apprehension has a little to do with the feeling of impending doom. Last year, for instance, our mild fall gave way to a seeming eternal winter rivaled only by Narnia itself. We spent several weeks literally snowed in. We huddled around the wood stove and knocked ice of the inside of the windows. We lit kerosene lamps and tried in vain to get signal on the wind-up radio. We towed cars out of snow banks and sledded until the hypothermia set in. So, yes. Perhaps I can't help but see the reds and yellows as a precursor to...white.

a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to break down and a time to build up;

Maybe it's also because I feel like it's happening too fast. I was sick for all of last week, and only walked as far as the kitchen to the living room, and back to the bedroom. I was not aware of much beyond my own misery. So, when I stepped out yesterday and saw it happening...

I almost panicked. Wait, wait! Not yet! Not quite so fast. Even in the moment, I was kicking myself for not simply enjoying it...not drinking it all in. I was begrudging the change and feeling like it would all be gone tomorrow. And not to be melodramatic, but I feel like it almost is. The wind is blowing like crazy out there and taking down tree-fulls of leaves with every gust. Soon, the trees will all be bare.

a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance;

I completely recognize that something within me needs to still. Why do I feel like I'm being thrust forward so?

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

Maybe it's the parallel with our situation. The farming season has come to an end, and it's time to look elsewhere for winter work. Our home situation is suddenly not as long-term as we had originally hoped and planned on. So, once again...again...we look beyond to what's next.

a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

My kids are growing, and I think it's scaring me. I know. I know. I know. I know that after just a few more falls and winters, they won't be my little ones any more.

With my oldest boy being 8 years old now, I am starting to see how this is going to go. His reasoning, his comprehension, his reading, his deductions, his sense of humor....wait-stop-slow down! It feels too soon.

I love winter, but I'm just not ready yet. I know we need to move along, but I'm not ready. I know my kids will grow up, but I'm just not ready.

a time to tear and a time to sew;

I need peace. I crave contentment. I want to be able to sit on the front porch in the sunshine, with a chill in the air...take in my view and breathe...I want to enjoy, truly enjoy my children. (no matter how utterly frustrating and exhausting they can sometimes be...all at once). I want to either settle in to a true home place OR just be okay with nomadism.

a time to keep silent, and a time to speak;

I don't want to fear the future...or the winter.

a time to love and a time to hate;

I want to be grateful for the beauty of change...even if it means a slow death. I want to be grateful for tomorrow. No matter what it looks like or demands from me. I want unshakable peace.

a time for war and a time for peace.

Friday, September 10, 2010

R-Attack...a.k.a. The Reinhardts visit the Watkins

How can I accurately express how much fun we all had last week? My brother, his wife, and their 8 children were here visiting us and we simply had the best time. I am doing my best to sift through the 500 (literally) pictures taken and just get the gems. We hung out at some of our favorite places here in the mountains, we ate great food, we played games every night, we laughed, and we made tons of memories. I love seeing my kids bond with their cousins...making a connection that I know will be lifelong. Here are the highlights!

Fairy Stone State Park. We love this lake, and the kids had such a blast.

From left to right...Novah, Karly, Aly, Hayden, Tori, Cassie, Madison, Gil, Connor, Dylan, Kayla, Carson, and Elliot.

The only thing better than music filling the on the front porch...

Fun around the house...

The guys go fishing...

Smart View Rec. Park...just off the Blue Ridge of our favorite places to hike and play...

Slumber par-tay...minus the slumber.

the boys visit the farm...

After everyone left, I went into a mild-to-moderate depression. I know that in our culture, the nuclear family has become the norm. We no longer live with or near our parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, etc... But there's something to be said for it. And I hope our two families will be closer one day. In the meantime, we have the memories. (and the pictures, for sure) Here's to family.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hayden's 5th Birthday!

Five times around the sun for my little Hayden! Can't believe it. This was a few nights before she was born...

She was born on the eve of Hurricane Katrina. Of all my five births, I believe that Hayden's was the most peaceful. It was a Wednesday night, and some friends brought my boys (ages 2 and 1, then) to church that night. It was a gorgeous evening. Even though it was August in south Florida, we were beginning to get the outer bands of the hurricane so it was pretty breezy, and the sky was incredible.

After my midwife got to my house, she checked me out and sent me out for a walk. So Blair and I went to for a walk on the golf course behind our house and marveled at the breeze and the purple sky.

I remember walking back into my home and feeling so refreshed and invigorated. My good friends had come over and while we were out walking, they dimmed the lights in the house, lit candles in my room, and filled the home with prayer, music, and peace. I remember feeling completely relaxed and my midwife and friends did everything to protect that space and maintain peace.

After just a few hours, I was able to reach down and deliver Hayden myself and discover that she was a girl- a beautiful girl! Hayden Marie.

And then her first birthday...
Her second birthday...
Her third birthday...
Her fourth birthday...
And now, we celebrate her fifth year around the sun!
With a sun cake...

And flowers from Daddy...
And family... (another blog, altogether!)
And her birthday bike and basket!

Just days after turning five, she lost her first tooth!
Happy birthday, beautiful Hayden...

birthday quilt

My daughter Hayden just turned five years old on August 24th. In the weeks prior to her birthday, I was hoping to get her a little bed set...some cute sheets and a comforter set. But as I began to poke around, I found myself thinking, "I could make her a quilt...I should make her a quilt!" And within a short amount of time, I had a sweet pair of flowered sheets from Goodwill, and an inspiration for a birthday quilt.

I actually grew up watching my mom sew everything from clothes to curtains and back, but I never really took an interest. As an adult, my mother-in-law gave me her amazing sewing machine and I came to love playing around with it.

It was four summers ago that I made my first quilt. I was fortunate enough to be spending that summer with my dear friend, Bonnie. Her mother, Ruth, was also there for awhile and we had such a great time sewing dresses for our girls (Hayden was just taking her first steps, then). The two of them painstakingly taught me how to make a quilt, and walked me through my first one. Those memories and those days and nights of sewing (okay, and the coffee with Bailey's) are so precious to me. Since then, I have made about 7 other quilts, mostly gifts for friends and family, and mostly for babies.

So, first I broke out my dusty sewing had been almost 2 years since I last used it. (I cannot believe that!!) Then, I dumped out all of my fabrics to choose for the quilt. This is one of my favorite parts. I just collect random fabrics and scraps from here and there and have built up an astonishing collection which I have managed to bring with me on every move.

I also had some special things that I had saved, it just so happens, from that first quilting summer. I had saved one of Hayden's onesies that she wore all the time and for some reason, I just loved it. It was just a pink/polka-dot onesie from Target, but it was my favorite on her and when she outgrew it, I just had to hang on to it. So- it became a quilt square. :) I also had two shirts of my own that I wore all that summer which also became quilt squares. And though it was bittersweet, I used some of those very dresses I sewed for her as a baby, and made them pieces or squares. Otherwise, they would just stay stuffed in a box, right? Why not incorporate them into this living memory!

It just so happens that summer was a pivotal one in my life, and our life as a family. It was when we left Florida, but had not yet settled somewhere again, so we were just sort of floating. Our love as a family, and the love of many friends became our "roots" as we had no ground to root in then.

I actually made a block for each of the states that Hayden has lived in- FOUR states in FIVE years! Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. I even made a small stitch on each state to represent the general area we lived in. By the way, I have fallen in love with embroidery, and though it so time-consuming and tedious, I hope the love shows through. I almost got carried away, and if I didn't make myself stop eventually, I would still be embellishing a square or stitching another flower or something.

Here is the pile of fabrics that I chose...

The next step is to cut each fabric into squares of exactly the same size. These were 8.5".

I did most of the embroidery on each square before I sewed the blocks together. I used little hoops to hold the blocks...

Then, I lay out all of the blocks and decide what order I want them to be in and what goes where...

Then, I sew together each row, block by block. Then, each row to row. This gives me the entire quilt top. Then, I lay it down on the batting and the quilt back (cotton flannel in this case) and cut the batting and backing to the size of the quilt top.

Then, I pin the three together, all wacky and backwards and sew three and a half sides together.

Then I flip it all right side out, sew that last bit together and add little quilting stitches at each corner of each block with embroidery thread.

And voila...a month later, and two weeks after her actual birthday- I'm done!

So, I will resist my usual self-deprecating humor and just go ahead and give myself a giant pat on the back. :) While I am definitely a novice quilter, I did pour my love, sweat and tears (and a little blood, as well!) into this beautiful piece. I am proud of it. And I am proud of my little girl who will rest beneath it. The images and the fabrics do tell a story of these first five years, and I hope she will treasure it forever. Perhaps 90 more years and 40 more states. :)

Also want to mention that Ruth, my quilting mentor, has a sweet little business. She sews up the cutest little dresses. Check her out here. Happy sewing!