Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Starling’s Arrival

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.


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turn, turn, turn.

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.

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12 months and 12 days

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.

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where have you been?

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.

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nine months and nine days

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.

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sugar springs

enjoying morning, baby and tea by the water

At the beginning of September, Ryan, Juniper and I spent a few nights in the middle of Michigan, next to Lake Lancer at a campground called Sugar Springs.  Oh, September in Michigan may likely be the most beautiful of months.  Camping in Michigan may likely be the most beautiful of activities, too, in my mind.  Either way, I love being a little family, packing up the station wagon and setting forth for humble adventures.  Losing ourselves to lake and sky, yarn, books and naps.

Every morning we walked to the waterside and had tea and muffins on the dock.  Every night we went back to catch the sunset before collapsing into bed.  The weather was perfect, warm days and cool evenings, and the mosquitoes left us alone.  Except for a few hard teething moments, we had a perfect little vacation.

Thanks, Uncle Todd and Aunt Lindy, for loaning us your adorable camper for the week.  Thanks, Michigan, for harboring lovely white birches, tranquil waters and all those breathtaking sunsets.

stealing kisses in the grass.

our baby juniper girl.

talking about how amazing it is to swing!

baby contemplating water & grass while i knit a row.

and white birches absolutely everywhere.

juniper at sunset with papa, my two peas in a pod.

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things of late summer

Things of late summer include tackling long-awaited knitting projects, reading through a stack of summer books, enjoying cooler August days, contemplating upcoming camping adventures, and listening to the laughter and babbling of a happy almost-toddling eight-month-old.

Ryan and I are still slowly adjusting to being permanent Michigan residents (our Virginia license plate *sniff* is gone from old Rudy).  We’ve made an offer on what could very likely be our someday dream home, but it’s a short sale, so we’re waiting for it to go through.  Waiting with bated breath and hopeful hearts.  Practicing patience.  We’ve found a church home, made some new friends, and are thrilled by the idea of living close to downtown.  I’m trying not to wish time away; life out on this dusty dirt road is lovely, too, after all.  And I know the sunshine is fleeting and never guaranteed.  It will be cold again before we know it.  Isn’t it always is that way around here?

I may have mentioned that Juniper has started to play just independently enough so I can knit uninterrupted for maybe ten minutes at a time.  My current project: a short-sleeved, flax-colored, cabled wool cardigan and I can’t even remember the last time I knit something for myself.  How very fun and rewarding indeed!  I’ll post pictures and details eventually; promise.

And summer reading continues.  I hold baby while she naps and will do so for as long as I possibly can, because someday she’ll be grown up and maybe not want to be held.  She’ll be too old for naps and too old to cuddle and besides all this, I’ll be uncool.  I know how it goes.  Anyway, while Juniper nurses and naps, naps and nurses, I sit surrounded by pillows, an occasional black tea, and some really good books.  Here’s what I’ve devoured this summer:

All Over but the Shoutin’ – Rick Bragg
The Shipping News – E. Annie Proulx
Her Fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger
Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout
Sunshine – Robin McKinley
My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult
A Hole in Our Gospel – Richard Stearns
The Oxford Murders – Guillermo Martínez
Girlfriend in a Coma – Douglas Coupland
Simplify Your Life – Elaine St. James
A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway

and am currently reading the first book in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series – Alexander McCall Smith – and Sue Miller’s amazing-so-far While I was Gone.  Plus I’d really like to crack open some good ones on upholstering but don’t really know where to start on that subject.  Whew!  If Pizza Hut did Book It for grown ups, I’d have so many free pizzas.

Of these, I highly, highly recommend A Hole in Our Gospel and The Shipping News.
I’ll conclude with some pictures, specifically requested by my father-in-law.  Here you are, Tim!

our blue-eyed babe

almost always has something to say.

Peter Rabbit has become part of our bedtime routine.

toys at twilight. baby loving a length of purple yarn.

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