Welcoming Goshen


Goshen Marcus (photo by Shannon)

I delivered my son with my own hands. Our midwife was on the road somewhere between northern Detroit and Flint. This is the story of that miraculous day.

“This is just such a sweet, sweet baby.” I said to my husband not too many months before baby’s birth.

“But Janie, how can you know? It’s not here yet, obviously.”

“It’s just so very sweet. Already. Right now.” How could I put to words my sense of this baby’s character? How could I know already? It was active yet gentle. So very strong but calm. Easy to carry; a comfortable pregnancy. Just a kind-hearted, sweet little person growing inside me. What better word was there besides sweet?

Flint was hit by a winter storm on Sunday. We were out in it; we were not deterred by the inches and inches of snow predicted. I was a day shy of 39 weeks pregnant, but who cared? We couldn’t miss the Christmas cantata or Juniper’s birthday dinner at my parents’ or First Presbyterian’s Feast of Carols downtown… it’s a Christmas tradition! We had to go. We did. My in-laws were in town; we’d had a family Christmas party the night before. Sunday was a full, beautiful, white, busy, headache-inducing day (headache caused by driving through the driving snow). But my Juniper was six! Six! Already! And I still had two weeks to relax before I expected baby… because of course I would carry this baby past his or her due date like my other babies… Right? Right?


Snow-loving girls in their element.

Monday morning came and I was awake at 4:30 a.m. with mild contractions anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five minutes apart. False labor, I said. False labor, my body said when contractions completely went away after I got out of bed at six a.m. and started cleaning the house from the chaotic weekend. Well, it might be tonight or it might be tomorrow and it still might be Christmas day, I told myself. I sat down to do my Bible study and was accompanied by a few contractions, too mild to matter. My girls woke up, we cuddled in bed for a while as we do every morning, then went downstairs for breakfast. My in-laws stopped by on their way out of town, delivering an awesome, nutritious crepe breakfast that was certainly welcome! I noted a few more contractions, maybe three or four an hour, but they were seriously mild. I sent a text to my midwife Goldie anyway, telling her I’d let her know if things sped up or slowed down as the morning progressed. Contractions didn’t speed up, but after breakfast I sure did. I put the house to rights, cleaned the kitchen and bathroom (including the tub, which is a big deal at 39 weeks pregnant), and took a shower. My contractions slowed down to nil: “too insignificant to clock.” Or maybe I was too busy to clock them?

By this time it was noon. Now this wasn’t my first rodeo; it was my third, actually. I knew how contractions worked. I thought if I sat down to rest for an hour, things would change. Labor would pick up and I’d know it was time to set up for the home birth. Or labor would go away completely, in which case I could go about my day as normal. If you’ve been with me through my other labor and deliveries, you may see a pattern at this point (a pattern I certainly wasn’t seeing). I’m not sure if it’s a mental mechanism I’ve created to help myself experience the highs and lows of labor or if I’m just a really silly person (or both), but I’m always in denial about labor. For Juniper, I was convinced at 8 a.m. on Friday that I’d be laboring for the entire weekend. I had her not twelve hours later. For Starling, I wanted to send my midwife and her assistant away to get themselves lunch at 1 p.m. Starling was born at 2:32 p.m. I have a bad(?) habit of not realizing I’m in labor. That said, when I sat down on the couch at noon to rest and knit for an hour, I had NO contractions. Okay, maybe one. You should also know I’ve NEVER been able to knit during labor. EVER. I’ve tried twice! This time, I knitted for a solid hour.

What was going on? My labor had certainly petered out when I’d expected it to pick up and regulate once I relaxed. Ugh. This was a fickle labor and a strange one. “Goldie, I don’t know what to think about this labor!” I wrote her. “When contractions are 10 minutes apart, let me know.” she wrote back. Okay. Fine. I could do that. I was in contact with my neighbor and friend Shannon and I let her know that at this point, bummer, contractions had gone away and it probably wouldn’t happen anytime soon. I also told Ryan to stay at work.

It was one o’clock in the afternoon by now and I’d not given the girls lunch. I gave them each a banana (not our typical lunch for sure) and had one for myself. I warmed up a mug of bone broth. I had a few intense contractions in the kitchen and I knew at that point I didn’t want to be alone, just me and my little girls… in case a baby all of a sudden came out? So I sent Ryan a text and he was home by 1:30 p.m.

Now you must understand I still thought this was false labor because it wasn’t regular and many contractions were so very mild. I wasn’t clocking the ones I couldn’t feel. So Ryan and I planned our afternoon. He’d get a loaf of bread started in the bread-maker (because I like the smell of bread baking during labor) then go outside to chop firewood for our wood-burning stove, enough to get us through the next few days. Sounds like a good plan, yes? Absolutely logical. Except then, while I was braiding and pig-tailing my daughters’ hair, I felt contractions becoming more frequent. Never regular, mind you. But certainly more frequent. They were coming four, six, eight, three minutes apart and lasting sixty seconds to two minutes. What?! I sent Goldie another text and her response: “Leaving now.” I asked Shannon to come over and help me set up for the home birth while Ryan was outside chopping wood. I also wanted to vacuum the entire house real quickly. She said she could come over right then. Perfect.

Juniper wanted to know why I was braiding her hair in the middle of the day.

“Because I want it to look nice for the birth pictures.”

“What birth pictures?”

“The ones Shannon will take when she comes over, because I’m going to have a baby soon.”

“What?! You’re having the baby today?!” She was almost too excited to stay still for me finish the second braid.

Then I told Ryan that Shannon was on her way over.

“Wait, what? Why do you need Shannon to come over? I’m only going to be outside for ten minutes, tops!”

“Um, I don’t want to be alone. Contractions are closer and I sent Goldie a text.”

“How close?”

“Um… closer?”

So Shannon, dear Shannon, came over. I had the wherewithal to tell her to stop Ryan from chopping wood and to set up the birth pool… “NOW!” I hobbled to the kitchen with my home birth supplies checklist in hand, trying to get it all together, telling the girls to put away their toys, mixing labor-ade and, well, laboring, all at the same time. The checklist got neglected mostly. Shannon gathered the essentials for me while helping Ryan set up the pool and shepherding my girls. The labor-ade got mixed, thank heaven, while all questions directed to me went unanswered because every other minute my arms were down on the counter-top, my head down between them, my body swaying through another intense contraction. I remember thinking “This baby is going to come out into my yoga pants and my Birkenstocks will never be the same.” (Yes, I wear yoga pants and Birkenstocks because I’m that kind of girl.)

I abandoned all attempts at anything in the kitchen, thinking only that I needed to find a good place to BIRTH THIS CHILD. Should I try going back upstairs to the bathtub? Where should I go?! But my excellent team of two had the pool inflated before I could make it past my rocker/glider (aka, my second favorite place to labor, come to find out) in the living room.


They stopped filling the pool (it had just a little bit of water in it at this point), put the liner in then filled it up with all the hot water in the hot-water heater.


My words were very few, very well-chosen and direct and loud and I was in hard labor so I wasn’t totally polite. Ryan said later that he knew things were getting serious when I stopped using full sentences and just responded to questions with one or two short words. I remember that, too. While I buried my head in the seat of the glider, he started running up and down the stairs with buckets of cold water from the bathtub (our only bathroom is upstairs because we live in a quirky old house) and when the temperature was good, I got in.


Birth pool, slowly filling with water.  Me: laboring on my rocker/glider. (photo by Shannon)

As twice before, the warm water was such a relief, such a comfort. I loved it. Shannon brought my blessingway flowers into the room, a visual reminder of friends praying for me. She lit candles on the mantle. Between contractions I asked her and Juniper to take one last picture of my freshly-hennaed belly that I’d enjoyed for all of three days. Juniper had her camera and when the batteries died, Ryan gave her his. She took pictures and video from her priceless, six-year-old perspective that I will always cherish.


Confronting a contraction. (photo by Juniper)

Meanwhile Starling, my three-and-a -half-year-old, was standing on the other side of the birth pool wall, directly in front of me. She was totally focused on the process and singing the “birth song” right along with me, just like her big sister did the day Starling was born. What a champion labor supporter! She learned from the best, after all.


Starling: my little doula. (photo by Juniper)

Not five minutes after I’d entered the birth pool, just one or two contractions later, I felt the baby making its decent. For our first two babies, Ryan was in the pool with me, literally my physical and emotional support. This time he didn’t even have a chance to get his swim trunks on. I was on my hands and knees alone in the water and I reached down and felt baby’s head emerging. I put light pressure on the surrounding area with one hand then felt the head come out!! Not many seconds later, I sensed another contraction coming so I used it to push the rest of the baby out of my body. My words were still small and select; I remember repeating a lot of “OH GOD”s and one “HELP ME, RYAN!” I know this is what I said because Starling told me numerous times that evening, holding up two little fingers: “Mama, you called two people. You called God and Papa.”


Ryan’s response to my cry as baby’s head emerged. (photo by Shannon)


Very possibly the most phenomenal moment of my life. (photo by Shannon)

God certainly heard my call, because He gave me extra peace and extra strength that day. He watched over an unassisted home birth and saw that there were no complications. On top of that, He gave us a beautiful, healthy, happy baby boy!


Starling is now a big sister! (photo by Shannon)

I pulled the baby up out of the water and against my own body. He was a boy, no mistake about that! A handsome little guy! He squawked and squawked but soon calmed down, absorbed in looking around. I rubbed his back. His color came quickly. Ryan called Goldie and said, “Janie’s in the birth pool holding a baby boy.” She was still on her way and told us to relax and enjoy those first moments. Which is exactly what we did. To pass time, Ryan got out his guitar and we sang Christmas carols, What Child is This?!, among others.


Girls marveling at their new baby brother. (photo by Shannon)


Juniper’s sign announcing baby’s arrival: “the baby is born 2016.”

Starling asked why he was covered in butter. She also took up the job of bringing me drink after drink of labor-ade, that little doula. Shannon, meanwhile, took some phenomenal birth pictures and truly precious first family-of-five pictures. My contractions kicked in again and I gave baby to Ryan to hold close to me while I got back up on my hands and knees to birth the placenta. We all chanted “Me No Like this Placenta!!” because that helps placentas come out. When Goldie came, she found a happy sleeping, nursing baby in his mother’s arms, surrounded by warm water. She also found a tired mama who was more than ready to get out of the pool. Two excited little girls in matching pajamas. A proud father ready to continue assisting in any and every way. A helpful and upbeat friend who had the best record and play-by-play of events because of the great pictures she’d taken.


Ryan holding his son for the first time. (photo by Shannon)


Well, hello there little guy! (photo by Shannon)


We’re now a family of five. (photo by Shannon)

We got out of the tub. I made a few important phone calls, one to my mom and one to my sister-in-law. We sat as a family on the couch and basked in the new baby glow, enjoying the warmth of the nearby fire. Ryan called his folks and his brother. Ryan’s bread finished baking, my parents came over to meet the little man and Goldie cleaned up the birth pool. We were so grateful for her presence there, to cauterize the cord then examine the baby (7 pounds, 7 ounces, 20.5 inches long). She helped baby and me take a lovely healing herbal bath upstairs. She practically tucked us in bed for the night. It was a crazy-beautiful day.


Retiring to the couch, enjoying the warm fire. (photo by Shannon)


Juniper reads to him from The Courageous Princess. (photo by Shannon)


Goldie cauterizing the cord with Starling’s help.


Juniper’s turn to help, with my mom nearby.


Peaceful baby enjoying his herbal bath. (photo by Goldie)

Each and every day God has my family in His hands. I’m so grateful that in His wisdom He gave me an extra measure of strength and peace on this particular snowy Monday in December. He brought my son into this world, healthy and whole. I was able to be a true instrument, a literal vessel of another precious miracle. I’m still so geeked about that as I type this story one month later.

I remember a dream I had toward the beginning of this pregnancy: it was the middle of the night, the Christmas tree was lit but everything else was dark and I delivered my own baby on the couch, all alone. This dream didn’t scare me in the slightest. I had a deep desire to deliver my own baby all along (although not necessarily without a midwife present). The memory of this vivid dream was with me when the situation became a reality. Yes, it was the middle of the day (2:44 p.m. to be exact, one hour after hard labor kicked in). I had a dear friend, my amazing husband and two exuberant daughters with me but otherwise we were alone. Alone but of course, not alone. Never alone.


Proud and happy sisters.


Rockabye, sweet baby.

We named him Goshen Marcus.  Goshen means safe haven, a place to draw near to God, a promise of provision. Marcus is the name of the gentleman who led Goshen’s great-grandpa to Christ and is both Ryan and Ryan’s father’s middle names.  Our little man has russet velveteen hair, curiosity in his eyes and the sweetest disposition, you wouldn’t believe. I’m so blessed to be chosen to be his mother. There is nothing like getting to know a completely new little person. He is just as calm and sweet as he was while growing inside me.

Welcome to the world, Goshen. You are loved by your big sisters and by a tight network of supportive friends and family, here and around the globe. You are so loved, SO LOVED, by your mama and papa but most of all, you are loved and cherished by your Creator. May your walk in this world be full of light. May you always find yourself a stranger in a foreign land, walking and working toward Home.


End of the birth story and beginning of so much more.


It has been a few full and beautiful months getting to know our new little daughter.  What a blessing that in His wisdom, God should choose to give us another baby girl.  I’ll remember and celebrate what happened two months ago today by finally writing her birth story!  Starling Eliot, what follows is the story of how you came into the world:

Early, early Sunday morning, June 16, I was awakened by the loudest cricket I’d ever heard.  Sleep was impossible, so I walked to all the open windows trying to find the source of the chirping.  To my surprise, I located the deafening sound in our dining room (which is used as more of a music room/library than actual place of eating).  Somewhere behind a wall of books, the little guy was singing his song.  And I was aggravated.  Mostly because I was due to give birth any minute, planning on giving birth in this very room, and really not wanting to contract and labor to such a loud accompaniment.  So the next morning I Googled ways to get rid of crickets.  I happened to read that a cricket in the house is a sign of good things to come.  Interesting!  I then remembered that “Cricket” was the nickname Ryan and I had given this baby before Juniper changed it to “Broccoli.”  Even more interesting!  So I relaxed about the cricket, changed my attitude, and by that afternoon it had made its departure.

The following Friday Juniper (age two and a half) informed me that the baby would be born on Sunday.  Sunday would be five days after my official due date.  All weekend, she stuck to this prediction as well as her firm opinion that I would have a baby girl.  All along it had been a boy to her, but now she’d changed her mind.  Sweet, I thought.  A girl on Sunday.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

Sunday morning came and with it the super moon.  On its elliptical orbit, the moon is closest to the earth once every fourteen months or so, thus making it bigger than most full moons: hence the term super moon.  In fact, for our little town of Flint, the moon would be its fullest at exactly 7:33 a.m.  Can you believe that at 7:30 Sunday morning of June 23, a week after I heard my little cricket-friend, contractions began in earnest.  I know it sounds crazy, but the moon was literally pulling this baby out of me.

Now I had been contracting, “false labor” some call it, for a few weeks up to this point.  They were slightly painful waves almost every other night, irregular and disappearing in the morning.   The contractions I felt on the morning of June 23 were different only in that they were very mild and very regular, seven to ten minutes apart and not dissipating with rest or activity.  Once Juniper was awake that morning, the first thing she said was “Mama, where is your baby?”  I was thinking boy I hope it’s on its way.  

The plan was for Ryan to go to his morning men’s bible study, do a bit of office work at the restaurant, then come home and get Juniper for church while I had a restful day at home.  By the time his bible study was over, however, I had contacted him, asked him to skip work and church, and to come home now.  The contractions were growing slightly more painful and we had work to do: prepare the house for this birth.  At this point, it was around 9:30 a.m.  I contacted my midwife Goldie to let her know that things were beginning to happen; I informed my friend and doula, Tamra, as well.

Ryan and I worked together while Juniper “read” books on her bed.  We made the bed, cleaned the kitchen, spot cleaned the bathroom, set up the birth pool, started making a loaf of bread (the smell of baking bread is thought to ease pain during labor).  Ryan suggested that I sit down with [one of] my favorite author[s], Bill Bryson.  I read only a few paragraphs of Mother Tongue when I realized contractions were speeding up, becoming more intense, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything but them.  During this time, both Goldie and her assistant Amy, as well as Tamra, were on their way to our home.  We wanted my mom to be a part of this birth as well, but didn’t want her to be the first to arrive (for her own sake), so once the birth team was there around noon, Ryan called my mom.

Juniper reading.  Me?  Just chilling I guess.

Juniper reading.  Me?  Just chilling I guess.

We all sat in the living room and chatted though I had to “check out” every three to five minutes or so, focusing on the letter Y on the antique milk crate across the room while my uterus was working hard.  Juniper wanted to climb on me with a book, but I just couldn’t; Tamra read to her instead, mixing up the words and making her giggle and giggle.  I realized then that I was resisting contractions instead of leaning into them, so I went upstairs (where our bathroom is) to labor alone.  While I was upstairs, my mom arrived.  It was 1:30 p.m.  She came up to be with me and I was never so happy to see her beautiful face.  I told her “Mom, the birth team hasn’t had lunch yet and these contractions aren’t painful enough for me to be even close.  I think you should tell them to go get lunch and come back later.  Also, I want to get in the pool.  Will you go make sure it’s hot-hot, please?”  Or something along those lines, hopefully that polite.  Of course, my midwife knew better than to leave me; they were preparing last-minute things while I was upstairs working through what I later learned was active labor.

eagerly Juniper waits

Eagerly Juniper waits.

In minutes Ryan was upstairs, helping me come down and get in the pool.  All morning, Juniper had been excitedly asking me “Would you like to get in the birth pool?  Would you like to get in the birth pool now?” and I could finally say “Yes!”  Just like at Juniper’s birth, the water was warm and welcoming and in it I found relief.  I smelled baking bread and lavender (the midwife had made an herbal bath for me and the baby for later that day).  I was in my birth pool, in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by people I loved, having my baby, letting my body do the hard work, and I was happy.  Juniper played in the water with a fish net and softly sang songs from “The Last Unicorn” and James Taylor’s “Carolina in My Mind.”  The contractions became more intense, even closer together, and I needed Ryan in the pool with me to support my body and my mind.  He was there in no time.  This was around two o’clock.

Tamra, Juniper and me.

Tamra, Juniper and me.

Together Ryan and I sang the “birth song;” he imitated the low moaning I created to meet the waves, created from somewhere deep within.  Juniper was singing it too, right along with us.  Between contractions I joked with everyone, though I don’t remember my hilarious quips and that’s probably a good thing.  A few minutes later I began to feel pressure and knew that the baby was making its decent.  Ryan and I got louder.  Juniper grew nervous because of our volume and my mom took her upstairs to play.  They were only upstairs for ten minutes when Amy called them back down; the baby was crowning.  At the very last moment I got out of my head, called upon Jesus and all His angels, and the baby’s head was out!  Amazing and terrific and terrifying and wonderful and I thought my job was done.  But no, I still had to wait for the next contraction to push out the rest of the baby.  I can say that that part was very surprising.

oh hello baby!

Oh hello baby!

The baby was given directly to me, I actually helped lift it out of the water.  It didn’t reach very high on my chest because the cord (still connected) was short and fat.  The baby was big, which is why its exit had felt so very surprising.  It was coated with vernix, coughing and crying.  I tried to rub my baby’s back through the thick sticky vernix and soon the baby’s color improved.  It was around that time when we thought to check and see… a girl!  Another girl!  Which, crazy enough, was my dream-come-true.  I had always dared to dream for two girls and our merciful God sent me another girl to complete my dream.  We were so happy.   She was born at 2:32 p.m.  In all, active labor lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes; I pushed for 11 minutes.

I can't believe that you're here.  Really here.

I can’t believe that you’re here.  Really here.

and baby makes four

And baby makes four.

About forty minutes later Goldie insisted I birth the placenta but my contractions had lessened to almost nothing and I was very unmotivated to cooperate, but what choice did I have?  Once the placenta was out, baby girl and I could leave the pool.  We sat together on the couch while Ryan showered.  I nursed and cuddled our new daughter.  Once Ryan was back on the scene, he, Juniper and Goldie cauterized the cord.  Baby and I then had an herbal bath upstairs, followed by a remarkable infant exam (8 pounds! 10 ounces! 14.5 inch head! Oh my word!), then made our way back downstairs to relax on the couch.  By this time, the team had everything cleaned up and the house put back together.  How lovingly efficient.  They stayed a little longer to bask in the new-baby glow and departed around 6 p.m.  Then Juniper, sitting on the couch next to us, said: “Wait!  We forgot something this day.  We forgot to go to church!

Two days later, when we finally settled on a name, our baby looked into my eyes and smiled for the very first time.  She was to be one easy-going, happy, smiley and sweet-sweet little girl.

Starling Eliot sleeping sweetly.

Our little one sleeping sweetly.

Starling Eliot Beuthin
2:32 p.m., 6-23-13
8 lbs, 10 oz
22 inches long
dimples & a head full of fuzzy hair
long fingers & perfect sweetness everywhere

three-week-old Starling and her proud Papa

Three-week-old Starling and her proud Papa.

To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

A time to blog and a time to not blog.

Some (mom and dad, mostly) have been waiting patiently five months for me to get my act together and begin contributing to this blog o’mine: thank you for your loyalty and faith in me, my colors, my art and my words.  I hope I’m not letting you down.  But if I am, then I’m letting you down lightly…

Because it seems this here computer doesn’t fit well into the life Ryan and I have created here in Flint.  I could force it: pry myself from Pepper, good reading, great company and afternoon tea to steal away to the little room upstairs and hack hack hack at this marshmallow keyboard for a few hours a week.  Share slices of life with the greater world while missing slices of life downstairs.  I’m afraid, however, these forced ponderings and reflections wouldn’t be fully genuine; posts would likely become threaded with hesitation and darkish clouds.

Should I keep going, somewhat sporadically, or end it sweetly with that last post about how Juniper turned a whole year old?  Finish what I’ve started by officially signing off or let it trickle out and away into a fuzzy oblivion?  How does one end a blog?  It’s not like the last few pages in my journal when I know the entries are done, the book is full, over and out.  It’s more never-ending than that; maybe I’m nervous about how eternal the internet might prove to be.  Anyway, these questions have been churning in my mind for the past month or so and this is my conclusion: a happy absolute ending (adios!) for thicket and thimble the blog.  Here follow my four main reasons, excluding many smaller reasons:

Number one.  I want to live fully in the three-dimensional world.  I want to embrace house projects and knitting, found objects and precious Juniper moments without hastily immortalizing everything on camera.  Finding time to present it all, wonderful, beautiful, eloquent, flawless, on screen.  I want to spend that time, time formerly used taking so many pictures and finding just the right words, uploading, re-sizing, describing and editing, to instead live this life God gave me.  In real-time.  Savoring each present blessed moment and not stressing a missed-blogging-opportunity (as I have been for the past five months, more or less.  Oops).

Number two.  I want to feed my “OH look at ME!!” tendencies a little less often, however big or small they may be.  I know what I’ve written has had its good and true purposes (namely, openly sharing my journey through pregnancy and Juniper’s homebirth story with many), but it’s time for me to close this book, put my thicket and thimble story away on the shelf and replace it with humility and silence.

Number three.  The thought of being local.  In time I will sew and knit enough to have a surplus (this may be after all the kids are grown).  A surplus that I will, Lord willing, turn around and sell.  I’m holding on to this possibility with faith and the skin of my teeth.  Anyway, I want to be involved with local artsy folk, share my wares at craft fairs or farmer’s markets or some such somewhere.  Not at an online venue.  Online-ness seems too distant from the [potential] buyer; I want to meet the person who takes some sweet knitted something home with him or her.  Now that Ryan and I have settled in what is to be our forever hometown, I no longer need access to a world-wide market.  This reduction of audience gives me a certain freedom and makes me happy, giddy, content.  I look forward to participating in the strong local artisan movement here in Flint.

Number four.  About Juniper.  I want my daughter (and other future children) to choose entirely who she (and they) will be, online and everywhere else.  I do not want her growing up with an identity I’ve created, cyber or otherwise.  If she doesn’t want an online presence at all, whatsoever, that’s great!  If she does, she’s free to develop it on her own time, with her own words.  The pressure is off, baby girl.

These are my reasons.  But perhaps mostly I’m putting an end parenthesis on my little blogging blip because this sticky marshmallow keyboard makes me want to simultaneously scream and rip out my hair and that of those around me.  Where is my Ergo-board?  Lost in the move?  Maybe.  Hidden in the depths of Ryan’s closet?  Probably.

Thank you, reader, for seeing me through to the end.  Miles and miles (?) of yarn.  A surprise pregnancy, a fabulous birth.  A huge move.  The ins and outs of a stay-at-home wife/mom wanting and hoping to use words, color, fiber and spunk to bring words, color, fiber and spunk into the lives of others.  Forgive my long pauses and my many make-believe phrases and tangled words.  It has been a treat to share, but I’m pleased to return to good ole paper and pen.

I’m wishing you the best, so much peace, joy like the morning, yarn, thread and textile forever.
Blessings, Janie.

okay, I can’t leave without showing you the back cabled collar of my latest knitted sweater and a little, sad baby peep. “Farewell!” we say.

one year, one candle, one chocolate cake, one crepe shop, one fun day!

Pepper, a year has gone by.  A year has flown by.  Baby girl, you’re one.  This is so hard to believe!  Happy first birthday, lovely daughter.  Your father and I continue to be delighted by your presence, surprised by your creativity, engrossed in your babble, blessed by your sometimes kisses and always giggles.  We just love you to pieces and pieces.

Here is a sample of some very sweet and very Juniper things you are currently doing:

  • last night you walked across your room, from your bed to your bookshelf, backwards.
  • you have a special voice, higher and quieter than normal, that you’ve reserved for Yoda Puppet when you have him babble and move.
  • on the last week of October, you stopped crawling.  We’ve enjoyed the soft pitter-patter of your little feet ever since.
  • you have eight lovely pearly whites, of which the bottom center two slant slightly inward on themselves.  Precious.
  • we are surprised by all the words you recognize and remember!  You know the signs for “more,” “all done,” “milk,” “yes,” “no,” you can blow kisses and of course give dramatic hello and good-bye waves.  You know where your nose is, can find your ears, head, teeth, mouth, hands, feet and sometimes even your eyes.
  • you have an affinity for belly buttons and love to honk our noses.
  • when the mood strikes you just right, you blow raspberries on my stomach.  And won’t stop.
  • your favorite toys include the harmonica, the kazoo, the pitch-pipe, the piano, the keyboard, and Papa’s guitar.  Also, you let me read and sing nursery rhymes to you, which makes me happy.
  • and can you dance!
  • “Yoda” (which you pronounce “Doda”) and “shoe” are tying for third place for words you  say.  Your first two were “Mama” (*sniff*) and “uh-huh.”
  • you are such a grown-up eater.  You use your spoon most efficiently and have just in the past three days started drinking milk and water out of a small glass by yourself.  I knew you were ready for this when you drank the bath water out of a plastic play cup in the bath the other day.

here we go...

one last little sip.

cow's milk. yum.

a sweet girl with her Monet tray, tortilla plate, blue green glass & chippy chair.

  • when you’re done with a meal, you ask for a rag to wipe your hands on (by yourself, of course), then proceed to scrub the table with it.
  • when we’re outside, you somehow manage to hear and respond to each neighborhood dog you hear, even ones so far away that we hardly notice their bark.  The Clifford book taught you how to bark months ago, and now you apply the doggie sound to real life whenever you can, including barking in the pauses of the song “How much is that doggie in the window?”
  • when you hear the words “breakfast, lunch, dinner, food or quieres comida,” you make a “munch-munch” noise with your mouth.
  • the other day I was rocking you and started singing “Are you sleeping, Brother John?,” at which point you sat up, smiled brightly, and wiggled your pointer fingers.  You were recognizing the tune for “Where is Thumpkin?,” a song Grandma loves to sing with you.
  • you have a special sound reserved for fire, which is kind of a soft, reverent “foosh-foosh,” and use it when you see a candle burning or when the wood stove is lit.
  • your best friend is Little Panda, whom you love to squeeze tightly and pat.
  • when you nurse, you’ll take frequent breaks to reach up and give my neck the dearest hugs.  I also get a pat on the shoulder with these squeezes, just like Little Panda does.

pretty pretty dress courtesy of christina c.


We think you’re pretty amazing, Juniper, and are happy to keep learning and growing right along with you.  Thank you for being you.  You are smart, silly, beautiful, kind, and good.  I’m such a proud mama; we love you, love you dearly.

a pumpkin amongst pumpkins.

I promise, absolutely promise, that we didn’t accidentally fall off the face of the earth.  Or into a large, deep hole.  We moved, traveled, were without internet for a month, blah blah blah, poor excuse, I know, forgive me.  And so much life has happened that I’m somewhat bewildered and don’t really know where to start in this retelling.  What to do?

Maybe I’ll start by thanking Ryan, my sweet and persistent husband, without whom we’d still be living without internet, three bumps on a log.  If I were in charge, I would have procrastinated and procrastinated and maybe returned to cyber space sometime in late 2014.  But my husband is more motivated than I in regards to technology and the like.  So, Ryan (and the friendly folks at AT&T), thank you.

In the middle of November, we moved into our dream house.  Built in 1928, our little home has hardwood floors throughout, glass doorknobs everywhere, a porch swing, etc., etc.; just thinking about it makes me want to cry.  Ryan and I have been working at making it a home (or, rather, unpacking countless boxes) in those few spare moments between life, parenting Juniper, and living more life.  Photos to come.

One very fun thing: when workers were in our attic adding insulation, they came across two boxes full of toys from the 1940s.  Oh my word, I’ve never seen such a collection of old toys in my life, some even in their original boxes.  It’s been great fun sorting through them and I’ll feature my favorites later, but it’s just so heartwarming to think that once-upon-a-time children were raised within these walls.  Children will be raised here again.

Knitting?  Close to nil.  Christmas?  All presents are wrapped!  What saved me this year was that no loved ones requested knitted gifts.  They learned their lessons last year when their woolen treasures arrived seven months late.  Anyway, Christmas is soon.  It’s lovely being local during the holidays; so nice to be close to family.  I’m looking forward to this first Christmas with my two favorite people in our own home.  And a wood stove was installed in the living room last week, so now we’ll be enjoying the holiday all together, in our new home, in front of a warm fire.  So good.

Lastly, for those of you who are wondering, the Flint Crepe Co. opened the weekend that we moved.  More crazy life!  Ryan is there, helping make it all happen, and loving it.  The coffee is excellent, the crepes are amazing.  Saginaw Street, downtown Flint.  I highly, highly recommend.

silly, maybe. pointy pixie hat, definitely.

I’ve knit several.  It’s just such a fun and rewarding pattern, such a fantastic hat to wear.  I have one (teal), baby J has one (soft blue), baby C has one (dark purple), and baby A also (tan).  Now my dear sweet sister-in-law has one, though it is pictured above modeled by yours truly.

Christine can face the winter looking like the happy little elfin creature she is.

Merry Late Christmas, sister!

Pattern: Pointy Ribbed Pixie Hat
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette, 100% wool, held triple
Needles: US size eight circular
Similar past project: baby’s pixie hat 

pitter-patter-skip-pitter-patter goes my heart.

can somebody tell me where she got those eyes?

Juniper, today we celebrate with you as you turn nine months and nine days old.

You’ve grown indescribably in just the three months we’ve been here in Michigan.  Your personality is becoming clearly sweet and silly, nutty and fun, mixed with a good amount of determination and spunk; you are more dynamic each day.

We love you so.  You fill the house with laughter and sunshine, just as a daughter should.  We constantly smile at the funny things you do.  Here are a few of the many examples:

  • Just two days ago you picked up a kazoo, figured out how it works, and now play it for us zealously.
  • Laurie the cat is your best friend, second to Grandma; you burst into peals of energetic love whenever you see him.  He’s not yet sure how he feels about you.
  • The 360 spin: you sit on your bum and kick your heels in just such a way that you slowly spin 360 degrees, checking out all your options and everything around you (sometimes twice) before deciding which direction would be the very best to explore.
  • Your current crawls: when you need to get somewhere fast, you speed around on your hands and toes.  Other times you crawl with two hands and one foot, while dragging the other knee behind you.  The pirate crawl, we call it.  Arrrg.
  • When it’s bedtime or when you’re over tired, you bounce off the walls, rapidly crawling from one piece of furniture to another, pulling yourself up, cruising about, plopping down, ungracefully moving from here to there and back again.  When you’re in this mood, we call you our drunken sailor.  Inevitably you hit the wall, both literally and figuratively, not long after.
  • We nod our heads “yes.”  You shake yours “no” in response.  Humm.  You answer a few yes/no question and nod when you hear “yes” or “yeah” and shake your little noggin at “no” “don’t” and “can’t.”  My favorite is when you nod your head “yes” as you crawl across the room.
  • You have the wave hello/good-bye down beautifully.  You’ll wave “good-bye” to toys you’re done playing with and people you’re ready to leave.
  • I’m trying to teach you the signs for tinkle and caca.  No progress yet, although you use the little potty like a champ for almost all of your leaving solids and just about half of your leaving liquids.  Elimination Communication is working well so far; it’s not voo-doo, though we do still call you our magic baby.
  • Sometimes you’ll grace us with lovely little kisses, but only when least expected and never when we request one from you.
  • We anxiously await the four tiny teeth that are swelling your upper gums.  You’ve had your two front bottom teeth for a few months now.  Oh, your toothy grins melt me away.
  • You’ve mastered both climbing a flight of stairs and carefully descending one step.  All by yourself, but well supervised.  You’d climb the roof if we let you.  Right now you think the dishwasher is a jungle gym.
  • You would live outside perpetually, too.  You love it outdoors, sometimes even whimper or cry when we come back inside.
  • In fact, one of your favorite past-times is looking out the window; you’re just tall enough to see out if you stand on your tip-toes.
  • Now that the weather has cooled, we’ve introduced to you the novelty of shoe-wearing.  You haven’t taken to this very well yet.  You’d rather eat them than wear them.  And you would be happy, oh so happy, eating leaves, sand, rocks and flowers all day long.  You’re not so keen on apple sauce and mashed sweet potato, however.  Tomato basil soup?  Getting closer!
  • Cuddly to the max: you when you are wearing pajamas.
  • You live for the moment Grandma and Grandpa come home from work, a moment they look forward to, too.  You attach yourself to Oma and Opa whenever you get to see them, and they love you right back.  Juniper, you bring joy to those who love you and smiles to people who don’t generally like babies.

I certainly generally like babies, especially sweet little you.

In less than three months, you’ll be a year.  Oh dear.