What We Did This Summer.

June was probably the most social month of my entire life to date. I’m a bit reclusive by nature, and at first the prospect of visiting with people nearly every day for an entire month struck terror into my shriveled hermit heart. I didn’t even know I was capable of spending so much time with people.

Alone Time

Happily (and contrary to my own personal expectations), I did not implode or shrivel up and die, and I even managed to enjoy myself! I really did have the most lovely visitors, so it was a very pleasant and easy way to be dragged out of my seclusion. :)

(Still, just to be on the safe side, I plan to be a hermit all autumn. If you enjoy quiet afternoons and rainy days and reading and falling leaves and peaceful thoughts and pumpkin spice, feel free to bring your knitting needles and a book, and we can be hermits together. I’ll provide the coffee).

Awesome hermit

At the end of May, my husband’s parents and his seven youngest siblings came to visit for Memorial Weekend. They stayed in a lovely farmhouse at Historic Leiper’s Fork, which we enjoyed exploring with them.

Rope Swing 2They even discovered a rope swing just a little down the road from the house. Can it get more perfectly summery than that?

Ropeswing

Beatrice was doted on by her loving aunts and uncle, even though she was a bit of a bear and refused to nap or go to sleep for almost the entire weekend until my amazing, gracious, and loving in-laws somehow rocked Beatrice to sleep with their grandparent magic while I cried outside. Ah, the humbling moments of vacation. That’s life though, and we still managed to have a wonderful time visiting and getting lots of hugs in, in spite of the Energizer Baby who can cry for three hours straight without falling asleep.

Memorial Day Visit

We were sad to say goodbye, but the next weekend we were off to Arkansas to visit Will’s Nana and Grandad.

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It was wonderful to see Will’s grandparents again, and it was a very relaxing weekend.

Nana & Grandad

They have one of the most beautiful, interesting homes I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. Also, it was so quiet and peaceful. I took some amazing naps.

Nana & Grandad's House

When we got back from Arkansas, we had some surprise car repairs and celebrated National Donut Day.

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And of course, Beatrice managed to look cute, so there’s a photo of that too.

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The weekend following our trip to Arkansas, my Mom flew in for a visit. :)

Mom & B

We explored the shops in downtown Franklin, and of course visited the Frothy Monkey… multiple times. Mmm, coffee.

Frothy Monkey

Another highlight of the visit was eating dinner at The Pharmacy in Nashville. I love burgers and fries, and we got to eat outside on this gorgeous patio.

The Pharmacy

When we weren’t trying as much local food as possible, we also managed to get lots of quality relaxing and chatting in (and more iced coffee at the Frothy Monkey). Here Beatrice is sleeping through a passing fire engine while we enjoy our refreshing beverages. The sleep habits of babies are truly mind-boggling.

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Eventually it was time for us to head to the airport and say goodbye to Mom…

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…and hello to Laura and Anne!

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Beatrice is only a few months older than Anne, and they are obviously bosom buddies, as I have mentioned before. It was so fun to see them playing together (or… near one another). Anne is such a jolly baby and we loved hearing her little squeaky laughs!

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We spent a Saturday exploring the Farmer’s Market and The Factory again.

Farmer's Market

We also sewed things and took photos. The usual. ;)

Laura's Visit

We somehow forgot to take a moms-and-daughters photo of the four of us, but we did get this photo, which is pretty swoon-worthy. ;)

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It was so fun to have Laura visit, and to be able to chat while we fed the babies, or worked quietly during their naps, or tried to get them to sleep. Sometimes it’s just nice to have another mom to commiserate with. :) And did I mention that she and Anne are completely gorgeous and photogenic (see below)?

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After Laura and Anne flew home, Will and I discovered this lovely park.

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And I took more photos of Beatrice.

Beatrice

Because… well… it’s hard not to.

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June 21st was Father’s Day. Beatrice is so blessed to have such a loving, thoughtful, protective, hilarious, kind, caring father, and she absolutely ADORES him. Every evening when he gets home from work, Will scoops B up to talk to her and read books and shower her with kisses. Her first laugh was for her Daddy, and they share the same mischievous twinkle in their eyes (and impossibly long eyelashes!). I am so completely smitten with these two, and so thankful for them both.

Will and Beatrice

Will has been such a loving, caring, incredible father from the moment he knew our little one was on the way. His strength and encouragement and love and joy carried us through pregnancy, and labor, and newborn-induced sleep deprivation, and with good humor and a servant’s heart he has shown Beatrice and I what it means to be loved by our Heavenly Father each and every day. He is amazing, and I don’t know how to say thank you enough.

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We were able to celebrate the day with Will’s three eldest sisters, who stopped over to visit us on their way to VA. :)

Beatrice & Aunts

Beatrice enjoyed every moment with her aunts, and hammed it up even more than usual. ;)

Beatrice and the Aunts

After church we walked around downtown Franklin and enjoyed frozen yogurt and coffee. We even finally visited Landmark Booksellers, which resides in a very lovely historic house and was all we had anticipated. :)

Father's Day 2

We were sad to see Beck and Grace go, but we got to keep Emma with us all week, and Beck and Grace returned the following weekend to pick up Emma and all head home. During Emma’s stay, we even got to spend some time with our first cousin once removed, Hans Royal. Isn’t he the cutest?

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When Independence Day came along, Will, Beatrice, and I strolled around downtown for Franklin on the Fourth, and just made it back to the car before rain started pouring down. The fireworks were cancelled, but we spent a cozy evening indoors watching a movie and eating a gigantic bag of kettle corn we had purchased downtown.

Fourth of July

In mid-July we drove to the NC mountains, where we met up with my parents and rode up to MA together for my brother’s wedding!

Mountains

The ride was long, but Beatrice was amazing. Here she is enjoying her first taste of sweet dark cherries somewhere in NY, and generally looking adorable.

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The day before the wedding, we got to meet Aubry’s family at a fun, casual coffee-shop breakfast with these two lovebirds… :)

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…we explored Shelburne Falls…

Shelburne Falls

… and attended the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The dinner was delicious and it was a beautiful evening. I loved watching Sean & Aubry dance together.

Rehearsal

The next day the weather was delightful, the wedding was beautiful, and the festivities were so much fun. It was one of the sweetest, most joyful, and celebratory weddings I’ve ever been to (and not just because I love the people we were celebrating). :) Aubry was a gorgeous bride, and doesn’t she have the best smile? :) It was a delight and an honor to be her bridesmaid.

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The reception was held outside and a delicious breakfast was served, with pies for dessert and plenty of dancing. It was so perfect for a summer wedding, and fit Sean and Aubry so well. :) I didn’t get any photos of the ceremony or reception, but here are a few from Aubry’s amazing wedding photographers (Katie Slater Photography):

Sean & Aubry Wedding 2

I am so overjoyed and delighted to see Sean so happy, and to have gained such a kind, lovely, amazing sister-in-love as Aubry! When I was growing up I often wished I had a sister, but in the past three years God has blessed me with NINE sisters far more sweet and loving and talented and wonderful than I ever could have imagined, and I am so thankful for all of them. :)

Other events of the summer have included…

Blueberry picking. Beatrice picked an assortment of leaves but no actual blueberries (though I did feed her quite a large number of them).

Blueberries

Beatrice learned how to wave. She waves at Will when he leaves for work, and when she goes to bed. She also waves at the bean plant outside. (?)

We attended our first Nashville Sounds baseball game, and Beatrice’s first baseball game ever. :)

Baseball

Lots of trips to the library. Sometimes Beatrice and I go together in the morning between her naps, and sometimes we all go as a family after dinner (one of our new favorite dates). :) I even stumbled upon the last day of the library’s summer book sale last month (quite by accident, I promise) and they were selling books for $5 a bag so… I might need another bookshelf.

I’ve been trying a lot of new recipes. I think I was in a bit of a rut, making the same meals over and over, so I’ve actually been attempting all those Pinterest recipes I’ve pinned.

Summer Food

Will joined a company volleyball team which met once a week for most of the summer – they just played their last game a few weeks ago. He usually played after Beatrice’s bedtime so it wasn’t practical for us to come along, but we came to cheer for him during his first and last games.

Will and I had a date night in East Nashville (courtesy of Will’s kind cousins) at Rudie’s Seafood and Sausage. This jambalaya was amazing, and if you ever go there, don’t even look at the rest of the menu. Order the jambalaya. Do it!

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And of course… Beatrice has been cute. ;)

Beatrice Collage

So there you have it – some snapshots of our summer and a few of the things we’ve been up to. If you made it to the end of this ridiculously long and rambling entry, your perseverance is astounding. I hope I never fall behind on blogging this much again because I really don’t think I could make it through waiting for so many photos to upload ever again. :)

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Did you all have a good summer? What were the highlights for you? Are you excited about fall? Now that I have this summer wrap-up post out of the way I can start talking about all things autumnal. :D Brace yourselves.

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We’ll return after these messages.

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Miraculously I actually did finish the list by the end of the day… but first, coffee.

When I wrote my last post I didn’t intend to take an almost 3-month break from blogging, but, well… these things do happen. :) Summer has been nice but it has FLOWN by in a whirlwind! I’m glad summer days are long or else I don’t know how we would have packed everything in. June was filled to the brim with friends and family, and I did intentionally take a blogging break for that month, but then July was bustling with travel plans and a beautiful wedding in MA for my brother and new sister-in-love, and then the days kept pushing in all in a pack with their own smaller events and errands and outings so that I never had a chance to slow down with a cup of coffee to get my bearings and see a bit further ahead and greet them one at at time. :)

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My attempts at blogging this summer.

Still, I’ve been taking as many moments as I can to enjoy our first beautiful Tennessee summer. :) I’ve been enjoying all the visits with family and friends – some new, and some I hadn’t seen in years! I’ve been soaking up all the warm, green smells of plants growing in the sunshine, flowers nodding and cicadas rasping, and enjoying the dark, warm, thundery days of rain-scented wind and steady downpours in a wet, blue-green world. I’ve tried to keep up with my boisterous herb garden, and made ratatouille and fresh herb bread and oregano pesto (Not a success, by the way. Even in pesto, oregano is bossy and yells OREGANO! in your mouth until you cough). I’ve enjoyed the fireflies and bumblebees who politely stay outside and mind their own business, and been at war with the flies and spiders trying to take over my home. I’ve enjoyed summer evening drives and library trips and Culver’s dates with Will (who has been playing volleyball all summer and diligently running 20+ miles a week, to the awe of his exercise-hating wife, haha), and I’ve loved watching Beatrice’s personality continue to blossom over the past few months. Every day she pulls all her books off the shelf and then lies in the middle of the pile, flipping through them. She is on a never-ending quest to pull out all the cans of tuna from under the buffet and roll them across the floor. She loves when we sing and dance around the room with her, and when Will makes the stuffed animals talk to her in funny voices her laugh is the most bubbly, contagious, joyful sound I’ve ever heard. I’m completely biased and I completely don’t care.

Beatrice Collage
I mean… look at that face.

In any case, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this summer, but it has felt crazy and helter-skelter and a little exhausting at times in it’s joyful exuberance. Just in the last week or so I’ve begun to feel things slow down and settle back into their more normal routines, and I’ve been beginning to feel the vaguest tugs and hints that autumn is around the corner. Then yesterday morning as I was taking Beatrice for a stroll around the neighborhood, the air was actually cool and crisp, and we passed children waiting for their school bus, and a tree with it’s leaves turning a bit yellow and beginning to fall, and I felt that autumn is really on it’s way. I almost felt like baking some molasses cookies to celebrate, but then it was 80+ degrees that afternoon so I decided I’d better wait. But it DID feel like a good time to end my blogging hiatus. I’ve missed keeping in touch with you all (all three of you, haha), and I’ll try to post at a more usual rate again.

I’ll be back next week with a quick catch-up of our summer adventures, mostly because I have a lot of photos to share (and mostly of Beatrice, obviously), and then… hopefully another post before Thanksgiving, right? ;)

Happy Wednesday!

Six Months of Beatrice

Today my baby is six months old.

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How was she ever so small!? On the one hand, it feels like I was holding her in my arms for the first time only a few days ago, and on the other hand, I can’t imagine life without her mischievous, crinkly-eyed, gummy grins.

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I was telling Beatrice this morning about the first time her Daddy and I saw her and I almost started to cry. I still can’t believe God entrusted us with this beautiful, precious, sweet daughter. How can she hold my whole heart in those tiny, chubby hands, and enchant me with one conspiratorial grin?

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Will and I were broken-hearted when we lost our first baby two summers ago, and I still don’t know why God wished to take that little child home to Himself so soon. He is good though, and He is kind, and though I still remember the pain and ache of loss, I realize that if He hadn’t taken our first child we would never have met little Beatrice. I don’t understand God’s ways, but when I catch a glimpse of them I am always filled with wonder and quieted by His goodness, and love, and mercy. It comforts me to think that we didn’t really lose a child, but gained one, and while we hold our precious Beatrice in our arms, God holds the baby we never got to meet. It makes me think of what Joseph said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”IMG_20150120_051355

We chose the name Beatrice because it means “Bringer of Joy,” as well as “Blessing,” or “Blessed.” Beatrice has brought so much joy into our lives since the moment we knew of her, and she is indeed the dearest blessing God has given Will and I. Her middle name means “Grace,” because God gave us a daughter when our arms were empty and we cried to Him. I don’t know how He ever trusts us with these tiny, precious souls, but He is gracious indeed! :)

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Beatrice, you have your father’s dancing blue eyes and impossibly long eyelashes. You are always ready to share a conspiratorial grin with him that only you two understand, and he is the only one who can always make you laugh. When I catch you smiling at each other adoringly, my heart melts.Will & B

You are a serious little lady. You sit in your highchair and watch me cook with eyebrows raised in mild interest. You seem to enjoy walks in the stroller even though you frown and furrow your brow in concentration. You love to hold books and try to turn the pages when we read to you.

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You are also a cheerful, pleasant soul. You enjoy baths and smiling at yourself in the mirror. Your favorite songs make you laugh. You are quick to smile and your eyes often twinkle with a look of secret mischief. You squeal with happy delight at being alive and then you try to eat your toes.

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You are intense and calm, serious and cheerful. You wish to be held constantly, or at least be near enough to touch, and have no interest in crawling or standing – you prefer to be carried. We are thankful that you like to cuddle (even if it’s inconvenient when I am trying to make dinner) and love to watch your quiet, calm, serious little ways and joyful smiles.

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You are the loveliest, most perfect, beautiful gift I have ever been given, and it fills me with awe to hear your happy singing begin from your crib at 6am each morning (even if it is a tad early), or see your eyes light up in a smile, or stroke your fluffy head and hold your tiny fingers while you sleep.

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As I write this you are crying because you are tired and you do not want to sleep. You want cuddles, and books, and kisses, and to grab tightly to my shirt with chubby fingers and bury your face in my neck, while you choke back sniffles dramatically (you know I can never resist you when you do that). You are tiring and demanding and amazing and worth every minute.

IMG_20150507_091533Your Daddy and I love you so very much, Beatrice, and we are thankful for every moment we are given with you.