The Holidays are Here | Giveaway to Artifact Uprising

Today, my parents arrive to spend Thanksgiving with us. I am beside myself with happiness because this is the first year we've had the joy of having them with us for Thanksgiving. The boys, as you might guess, are busy making a welcome sign and dreaming about the presents PopPop and Granna are bringing for them. (smile) And I've been busy cleaning my oven and plucking my eyebrows. Because, my mom. (big smile) But also, I've been keeping busy by wrapping up a few gifts and I'm especially loving our Christmas card right on top.


I love that I was able to choose nine favorite memories from this year (mentioned below) to include in our Christmas card. Artifact Uprising has some really beautiful designs this year and because of their generosity one reader will win a set of twenty five holiday cards. (The giveaway is also live on my Instagram feed and you can enter here or there. One winner will be selected and contacted on Friday, November 28th.) To enter, simply comment below with what Artifact Uprising design you would choose. Happy entering and happy Thanksgiving, reading friends.

our Wren Maragaret, one day new // our favorite tree in our yard with its magical changing leaves // our sweet Cal-girl // the boys' first fishing trip with daddy // Job after I created his 'hugs and kisses wall' as he calls it // Graeme and daddy on our Oregon and California coast trip // ice cream with Granna, Aunt Barbie and Uncle Jon at Salt & Straw while on a trip to Portland // Job and daddy at the coast in Florence, Oregon // just the three of us right as we first glimpsed her


House News .

Some of you might've heard our rather crazy news-- that we bought a house, a van, and had a baby-- all in one week. More accurately, I should tell you that we placed an offer on a house, bought a new-to-us vehicle, and birthed our beautiful Wren Margaret all within one week. (smile) I am really looking forward to sharing more details about the house, but for now I'll share a few ideas that I've been dreaming up lately. 


The house was built in 1965, a structural era that I actually love. However, not all nineteen-sixty-fivers were built equally and we'll be wasting no time in ripping out carpeting in the kitchen, a plethora of overhead florescent lights, and of course the popcorn ceilings. What it does have going for it is location, location, location and quite a bit of equity. We plan to add a boatload of sweat and tears and end up with something that we love, that feels like home, and most importantly, is ours! 

And so, I frequently find myself in dream land about the house. With such an extended time in escrow I've had a lot of time to think about details. Here are a few that are on the top of my list...

a beautiful new address stamp // a large bell basket light to hang over our dining room table // the perfect front door color // white walls and above-the-bed shelving (I think the shelving will be my plan until we've saved up for this bedroom purchase) // all-year-round green landscaping // a hanging hat rack // an over sized watercolor like the one Graeme and I created for Wren's room // kitchen shelving and tile // dark stained garage door

*all images via my Pinterest board titled 1965 remodel

Preorders and Past Words | Here + There, A Christmas Collective

November is here and I can hardly believe it! Last year, around this time, I shared a big piece of my heart with you. I told you about a special project that had come to completion, a collection of original piano solos entitled Here + There. Today, I'm sharing the news that preorders for Here + There are available for upcoming holiday gifts. I'm also sharing a bit from last year's initial post in case you'd like to hear a few snippets from the collection and the reasons behind it. Thank you for letting me share!


Two years ago, as I watched my husband wrestle and play with our boys after dinner one night, I sat down to the ricketiest, most unpromising (and most beautiful because of who gave it!) piano and strung together what would be the first few compilations of Here + There. I remember telling my husband how I wanted to do this, this collection of original piano compositions. (Even though, in all honesty, I don't really love just listening to plain old piano music!) But there was a bigger value to it, a bigger picture to all of it in my mind and it was this-- I want my children to have it someday-- want it to remind them of all of these times, my husband taking the time to play with them, and me stringing together their favorite songs while the giggling and banter (and, yes, some wailing every now and again) ensues. A couple days later, as I fingered through a batch of papers on the counter, I spied a note from my husband. On the paper, I had scrawled a hasty list of 'maybe' songs for the Christmas collection. At the very top, his handwriting spelled out the message, "I believe in you. I love you, Sakes." That note meant the world to me and encouraged me to begin what would become a year long process.





That process, my collection of original Christmas compositions, turned into something so much more. I think that sometimes, whether it's note-playing, word-writing, child-loving, God-learning, husband-knowing, or friend-making, I wrestle with the should, would, and could. When, in reality, what I need to do, to borrow words from my sister Barb, is to go out and do the did-- to do S O M E T H I N G, no matter how small or insignificant.  This year long project showed me the value of small and insignificant. (To continue reading more about the process behind the project, read here.)

You can download the album for immediate use here for $7 or you can order an actual CD from my Etsy shop, Cranny, for $9.00 + $2.50 for shipping and handling. (All preorders will be mailed by Monday, November 24, 2014.) Also, thank you in advance for the many of you who have shared or will share this on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media avenues. Please know that my little family appreciates that so much!

Happy Monday to you, reading friends. Thank you for letting me share a big piece of my heart with you today. And so many words. . . Wordy, wordy!
x

Three .


"I yove you fooooo muktch." (I love you so much.) Yesterday, he came down the stairs and brought me a bright gold leaf and said those five little words as he headed back up. I hear these words from my Job Hudson several times every day. I am incredibly grateful for this little blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy. This sweetheart who, I'm pretty sure, has the biggest heart ever. Today he turns three years old. He lives life to the fullest, lives it loud, and lives it with love. And I'm so incredibly grateful he's ours. He is our constant reminder of God's goodness to us and such a bright light in our lives.





p.s. When my babies are just tiny, I pick out 'their song'. Matt Redman's Blessed Be Your Name is Job's song and I thought I'd share my favorite rendition of it with you today. I hope you press play and breathe in the words.

Autumn looks like this at our house. . .


It's piles of warm clothes, lit candles, crackling fires, stacks of wood, a porch full of mums and potato vines, an adorable baby girl, and boys in their comfies waving goodbye to a daddy headed off to work. With the daytime temperatures reaching only into the high fifties a couple days this coming week, I think I can now officially say happy Autumn, reading friends. Happy Autumn indeed. . .


p.s. The boys are wearing some gifted clothing from Nico Nico. If I was a millionaire I would clothe them in Nico Nico pieces from head to toe. The pieces are well made and beautiful. 

p.s.s. I've been doing some serious wishing that they'd make Jobie's long johns in my size because he tells us over and over again how comfy they are! You can view their entire Fall and Winter collection here.

A simple treasure hunt for today .

Just popping quickly in-- because the baby is fast asleep and the boys are busy taking every couch cushion off the guest bedroom sofa and jumping away-- to say happy first day of Autumn. I love this season. So much. Yesterday, my Graeme-bear and I went on a little treasure hunt to welcome in the new season, while Job and Wren took their afternoon naps. We thought we'd share, just in case you'd like to do the same today. . .




one brown leaf // acorn // a yellow flower // leaf from an apple tree // feather // one smooth rock // bark // two pinecones // a red leaf // a small twig // a flower pod // an allium // one green leaf // pine needles

p.s. We found everything on our list except for an acorn. Pine trees outnumber the oak trees around here. (wink) Happy Autumn, friends!

Her birth story | Four weeks young

Tomorrow she'll celebrate four whole weeks of life on the outside. I can hardly believe it, really. It seems like just yesterday I was propped up in a hospital bed, holding her while she slept, talking to kind friends who stopped by to welcome her. (Brave ones, too, if you ask me. Funny things can be spoken when I am woozy. I still remember the time I told Jobie's first hospital visitor, an elder from our church, that it was like the parting of the Red Sea when my water broke. I have absolutely no! idea! why I would've given that (inaccurate) information at that time and to that person other than the fact that I was heavily medicated from surgery. Goodness.) 


I'm going to be very honest and tell you that a third cesarean delivery is not for the faint of heart.  I knew, going into the process, that the road would not be easy. In this case, the third time was not a charm. It was grueling. I sobbed in pain, as a somewhat loud-mouthed and demanding nurse required that I cough into a tube to prevent pneumonia forming in my lungs. Nearly five days later, I would stoop in pain from just a small cough or laugh, but imagine the pain, fresh from surgery a mere six hours earlier. (My doctor also informed me on the operating table that she needed to sew some of my stretched-out stomach muscles back together and I imagine that the extra pain I felt this third time around stemmed from that as well.)

But she's here. And we're whole. I have two cesarean delivery scars low across my abdomen that remind me of God's sovereignty and goodness and that modern medicine is a miracle, and if that weren't enough, three beautiful babies to tell me again and again that such things are indeed true. 




I can't say that I entered Wren's delivery without a great amount of fear. A third time for a major surgery intimidated me. I called my siblings the day before and made sure to say I loved them. Just in case. I told my husband to play this song, by my friend's husband, as they opened up my body and pulled out our beautiful daughter. And, I asked him to play this song while we held her for the first time, all piled on the small operating table, tears pooling and rolling down our cheeks.





They pulled her out and I heard someone say how little and cute she was, another commented on her hair. But then I saw her, I heard my husband's voice crack as he called out to her moments before I caught my own first glimpse of her, and she was perfect. 



And here we are, four weeks later. Each day, growing more and more in love with her. All of us. But, I'm sure you probably gathered that from these photographs. Happy four weeks to our beautiful Wrennie-Wrennie, as her brothers love to call her. We want you to know, little one, that we are indeed the lucky ones, with very grateful hearts to the One who knows you, made you, and brought you safely to us. 

p.s. I want to say that I wouldn't have made it without my sister, my husband, and especially my mom. I love you and am so thankful for you, mom!

Our baby bird | Little Wren Margaret

I still remember holding the ultrasound envelope up to the window light in our living room and seeing it. Wait, did I just see the letter g? (Frantic moving of the envelope into more light.) Steve was painting in the next room over but I could hear the ringing in my ears over the rhythmic sound of his paintbrush. We are having a girl? We are having a girl.  I put the envelope back on the counter and sunk into the rocking chair, watching my husband slather on fresh black paint over a brick wall. He made small talk. I tried to gather my courage to admit that I peeked. After several minutes I spit it out-- I peeked. Without missing a beat or stroke of paint, my husband laughed and said with certainty-- no you didn't! After a few moments of convincing him that I certainly had cheated, he asked me to get the envelope. And I have to tell you, my husband fell for our little girl the minute he knew she existed. 


A few days ago, I wrote the following on Instagram: All of the fears and doubts I wrestled with, since finding out we were expecting a baby girl, disappeared when I saw her for the very first time. I cried and cried when her little profile turned my way across the operating room curtain and I knew, with absolute certainty, that she had my whole heart.



I knew it would be that way. But I failed to comprehend how quickly my whole heart would be smitten with her. It happened in a split second. And in that fragment of time, I knew she was one of the very best things ever to happen in my life. 



Today, she is two weeks old. She is our little light, our Wren Margaret. And I wonder why I ever doubted how she'd fit into our family and into my heart. In all honesty, she has quite stolen every single one of our hearts. (I hope to soon post a few pictures of the boys oohing and awing over her.)



Wren Margaret
6 lbs, 8 oz
19 and 3/4"
Born at 9:00am on the dot
Monday, August 25th, 2014

Summer Shenanigans, Part Four | BumpNest Review

When we moved here last summer we could hardly believe our eyes that not only was there a pond in our backyard but also a resident duck whom we learned had been named Sloppy. My boys fell immediately in love with Sloppy the duck and, really, so did I. Then came winter and a cold snap of negative temperatures. I mentioned to my husband one night during the cold snap that I was trying to figure out a way to talk Sloppy into coming indoors. But it was too late. We never saw Sloppy again. Although I've always feared the worst, Graeme has always been completely convinced that Sloppy took off looking for his family. (Even though we were told he was unable to fly.) And I am not about to tell him differently. (smile) 


So, try and imagine our absolute glee when a mama duck and her seven babies appeared in our pond in late June. The boys insisted on giving the name Sloppy to the mama duck and I thought it was quite redemptive. We had a bit of panic the week of July 4th when our little duck family disappeared for a few days. But, I'm chalking it up to fireworks and the fact that this mama duck is a terrific little mommy. Perhaps she was just being extra cautious and keeping her little ones in the shadows for a few days after all of those firework booms.


It's safe to say that we've been spending hours upon hours outside this summer. Between our beloved ducks, our pool, our shade umbrella, and our last-year's-swimming-pool-turned-sand-box, we've stayed pretty happily employed. And a tad hot. And did I mention hot? (big pregnant smile) My three salvations this summer have been the pool, the umbrella, and my BumpNest pillow



It's so unbelievably surreal to me that we'll be meeting our baby bird in less than three weeks and less than two if she decides to show up when her brothers did. (My water broke on the same exact night with both boys-- the night before I turned thirty-eight weeks.) Whenever she decides to arrive, we will welcome her with open arms. And until then, you'll find us loving on our baby ducks who, as of just last night, let us feed them bread. We're pretty in love with these feathered friends.......



almost 37 weeks | photograph by baby bird's daddy

I've read several great reviews (here and here for starters) from women who loved their BumpNest pillow, especially for sleeping use. But in addition to giving sleeping comfort, I personally think this pregnancy pillow is a wonderful addition for outside shenanigans. I love that the cover easily zips off for the wash and it is such a nice size that even the boys are able to enjoy it right along with me. I would definitely recommend BumpNest's pregnancy pillow to you. (I always appreciate a company with a beautiful logo, product and photography, too!) Their pillows come in a variety of beautiful patterns and their scraps to caps initiative is such a good one. Thank you so much, BumpNest, for sending me your pregnancy pillow. Our outside summer shenanigans would have been much, much less comfortable without your BumpNest pillow!

our baby ducks. . . from Sarah Kate Branine on Vimeo.

Blueberry Picking in our Lightning McQueenies | Always enough grace .

We went blueberry picking last week. Friends of ours freely share their blueberry bushes and we are the happy beneficiaries of their generosity all through the summer and winter months alike. Fresh blueberries for the summer and frozen ones for pancakes throughout the fall and winter. Their land yields a thousand delights for little boys, not the least of which is a water fountain surrounded by smooth small rocks. I lost my boys to the fountain and rocks after about three minutes of blueberry picking. But I knew they and their tummies would return. And they did. Job returned sopping wet from head to toe, telling me that he was wet from the fountain and not from wetting his pants. I had gathered that, as even his hair was wet. (smile) I stripped him down to his Lightning McQueenies and off he went to pick, and immediately eat, a few blueberries. 



Several weeks ago, I started panicking about being the soon-to-be mama of three children. But if there's one thing I've learned in life over the last several years it is this-- there is always, always, always enough grace. (I'm specifically talking about grace as it pertains to motherhood but I certainly felt this lesson in so many other areas prior to becoming a parent.) In some situations I'd be hard-pressed to agree with my own life-lesson discovery. But deep down I know it to be true. And over the last several weeks, I've felt God filling up my grace cup just in time for it to be poured out, empty once again for filling. And isn't that the case? It seems that you can't store up grace nor can you come up short. Because that's the character of God-- he is always enough.





Today I cried when my Graeme-bear said to me in a very grown up voice-- mommy, don't call me Graeme-bear just call me Graeme. There he stood, folding all of his laundry and Job's too. I feel like I can't handle the crush of losing more one-on-one time with him as we prepare to welcome another little one into our lives. The maddening reality that he is growing up, too. And yet, this growing up of his is a gift of grace. Watching him as he learns more about responsibility and work, it's a thing to rejoice over, not to instead mourn the time that refuses to stand still. (But I will most certainly still call him my Graeme-bear.)




Sometimes grace reaches me in a paint color that finally turned out perfectly, sometimes it grabs a hold of me through written words. And during these last few weeks before our baby bird's arrival, I'm so grateful it found me through a little boy who has triumphed in potty training and another who is falling in love with responsibility. Thank you, Jesus, for your grace and for your love in showing that grace in so many tangible ways, even if it includes blueberry picking in our Lightning McQueenies.