Tag Archives: baby

Bless Bless

Dear Iceland,

You have been close to our hearts for a long time now, as the first time Eric came here, for 9 whole months just after we started dating, served as a crucially formative period in our relationship.  I visited you then, in the dark, windy 1st week of December 2005.  We came again in 2009, a remarkably gorgeous summer, just a year before we had our first child.  We saw some amazing bits of your countryside on two road trips, and I soaked up every inch of Reykjavik that I could.  Once more, last spring, with our boy just 7 months old, you greeted us with snow on the 1st of May.  We stayed in the city then, laying low as Everett battled a fever.

And then this year, deep in the middle of February, we returned, in the dark, in the snow.  Everett now 16 months, and a baby girl growing within me.  We settled in, we hibernated as our active toddler would allow.  Eric set to work on some of your manuscripts, working on a writing project and exploring the history of your fascinating people.  I set to work exploring the walkable radius of our apartment in the snow, meeting other mothers and knitters, and growing this baby.

Then she came.  Helped along, no doubt, by the many kilometers I must have walked through your streets as she grew, she made her entrance swiftly.  Aided and welcomed by two of your own daughters who comforted and encouraged me through the labor; your naturally heated spring water as the first element to touch her fresh new skin, she arrived.  Bryndís Ann, bearing a name that is part of your beautiful language, and who I hope will always be proud to claim you as the land of her birth.  You are now an indelible part of our family.

We say farewell, or “Bless bless,” to you now, but it is not forever.  We will be back, it feels inevitable, even necessary.

With Love,
Eric, Emily, Everett, and Bryndís

This chapter in the Bryan Family Adventure was made possible by: Icelandair, The Missouri Research Board, the American Scandinavian Foundation, The Arni Magnusson Institute, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology.  We would also like to thank Jóhanna Bogdottir, Hanna og Elvar Ingolfer for their lovely apartments; Magnea and Helga at Hallgrimskirkja, Bergdís Rosantsdottir and Hrafnhildur at the Red Cross; Jenny, Torril, Kassia, Renee, Jana, Colleen, Amanda, Sonja, Johanna, Sandra, Anna, Dawn, Angela, and all the other wonderful mothers I had the pleasure of sharing playtime with (no doubt I’m leaving someone important out); Hrafnhildur at Bjorkin Midwives, and Soffía of Hönd í Hönd for making Bryndís’ birth possible at home, and a peaceful, joyful experience; Kara Payne for coming to take care of us for awhile; Diane, Mike, Kaitlin, and Freya  Wilson, for being the difference between surviving and enjoying this visit; and of course our families, for showering us with love and encouragement, spending a fortune to send us the things we couldn’t buy here, and another fortune on coming to visit, serving as glorified babysitters and taking us out to dinner.  We couldn’t do it without you, and we appreciate you letting us take your grandchildren so far away for awhile.


Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Travel, Writings


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Highlights: Mombee and Aunt Silly take Reykjavik!

After Kara left, my mom (known to Everett as Mombee) arrived for two weeks, and my sister Hannah (affectionately nicknamed Aunt Silly) joined her for the second week.  So we got a full month of extra help with a new baby, so awesome.  Some of the sweetest moments I don’t have pictures of, like getting to take my mom to two playgroups to meet everyone whom I’ve gotten to know over the past few months, just hanging out in the flat reading or watching videos with Everett, mom cooking most nights, wandering around town, shopping, and stopping at playgrounds, and the moments when they took both kids and I got to rest some!  We took one road trip that included Þingvellir and the southern coast down in Vík, and mom and Hannah headed to the Blue Lagoon one day.  Here are a few favorite pictures of mine:

whale watching, or really, rocky boat ride in the cold and looking at a lot of water:)

Watching some new dvd’s Aunt Silly brought with her

The girls at Þingvellir; we also got some great family portrait shots here but I’m saving those for the Christmas card.

Hannah and I (and Bryndís, hiding in the sling under the blanket) on the beach at Vík. This isn’t the best picture, but I wanted to show the cool rock formations behind us. It was a beautiful day to drive down there!

Skogafoss; not part of the planned day trip but we spotted it on our way home and had to let mom and Hannah get out. I was pretty ok with not unstrapping two babies again, but would love to go back one day and climb up to the top. How gorgeous!  Hannah took this picture, btw

Sheep! I have an absurd number of pictures of sheep and horses from our various drives, so it’s about time I threw one in here. There’s just something so magical about the way these animals are allowed to roam the countryside until they’re needed, and they are EVERYWHERE.  But sheep are particularly special, not just because I love knitting with their wool, but because my mom has a thing for them and decorated MY nursery with little sheep stencils.


Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Travel


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This Moment

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.* A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see. (Inspired by SouleMama)


Posted by on July 27, 2012 in This Moment


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Highlights: Kara’s Visit

As timing would have it, baby girl arrived 2 weeks early which meant our friend Kara got to be here for the first two weeks she was alive!  Kara is someone we got to know last summer at L’Abri (remember? here, here, and here); she lives in the UK and the plan was for her to come and help me through the last two weeks of pregnancy, but timing is everything and I just love it when God’s turns out to be way better than mine.  She was a tremendous help as we got used to two little ones, often cooking and constantly doing the dishes (which seem absolutely endless), holding the baby or playing with Everett.  Bryndís’ birth was such that I recovered much more quickly than with Everett, so we also got to have a little fun with Kara. Here are a few highlights:

Holding the little one.

Bryndís’ first road trip at 1 week old!!

Kara at þingvellir

Snæfellsjokull, view from the car. The day was perfectly beautiful, though very very windy and chilly, so we were content to stay warm and snap pics out the window. We briefly considered driving the road that goes right through the glacier, instead of around, but a strongly worded caution sign changed our minds!

Everett, NOT sleeping on the way home from a long day’s drive around Snæfellsness

Kara on her last day with us, taken by the Viking ship sculpture down by the harbor, Harpa concert all in the background. We miss you, friend!!




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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Bryndís, Travel


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Bryndís Ann

þingvellir National Park; 3 1/2 weeks old

In the interest of catching up as much as possible (and I confess, some of these posts are as much for my own personal record keeping as for sharing), I want to properly introduce you to my beautiful daughter.  I have not finished writing up her birth story, but I’ll include Eric’s version of it as a pdf download because it’s hilarious (keep in mind while reading that it’s a copy of the email we sent to family and friends the day of).  In short, she arrived two weeks early, and made her entrance so swiftly that I did not make it to the hospital but rather delivered her, with the help of Eric, our wonderful doula Soffía, and a midwife who arrived just in the nick of time, in our bathtub!  Unbelievably, our sweet Bryndís Ann is already 10 weeks old, so here are just a few portraits of her life thus far.

A few minutes old!

About 1 month

Road Trip! With Grandma and Grandaddy Bryan, 2 months



Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Bryndís


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I took an unintentional 3.5 month hiatus from blogging and quite a bit has changed since I last posted, like, let’s see: our home, the weather, the number of people in our family, the overall shape of my body, amount of sunlight in each day. . . I have lots of thoughts, pictures, news, and on and on to share, but for now, here are some highlights:

April 1-we moved from 107 to 101 Reykjavik, to an awesome flat facing the Tjorn in the center of town.  It was nice being next to Laugardalur park, but I’m much happier downtown where I don’t have to take the bus to get anywhere.

April-May, sometime–it stopped getting dark, at all, ever.

May 7th–Baby girl enters the world!!  I really look forward to sharing her insane birth story and a few precious pictures in an upcoming post:)

May 8-June 2–first our friend Kara visits, then my mom, then my sister!  Several fun day trips with everyone to other fantastically beautiful parts of this country

June–settling into life with two kids, fortunately with the help of some gorgeous weather!  Lots of time spent at the playground, in the kitchen, at playgroups, and the library.

Projects finished since March 13–Everett’s sweater (ALMOST in time for Easter), E’s Easter basket (now toy storage), easter garlands and letters for friends back home, E’s overalls, knit baby blanket, tiny baby sweater and matching hat, tote bag for a friend’s birthday, fathers’ day present.

In other news: a new addiction to Pinterest (something easily explored one-handed and while nursing or bouncing a fussy baby) has led to a growing project list and several yummy kitchen experiments.

Pictures and links to all patterns, tutorials, and recipes forthcoming!

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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in At Home, My Projects, Travel


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Believe it or not, in addition to the crazy amounts of fabric I brought with me, I also brought some old sweaters that I have no intention of wearing, but rather cutting up into bits for various projects.  How did I have room for this in our limited baggage allowance?  Here’s a secret–IcelandAir allows TWO free bags, so I brought clothes in one, my sewing machine in another, and stuffed fabric and yarn into every possible little crevice available.  I knew I wanted to make Everett some sweater pants, because I had a few great old sweaters perfect for this AND with the idea that something warm but snugly-fitting would be perfect under snow pants.  And he wears snow pants almost every day, even if there’s no snow, because it’s cold and there’s always at least dampness on the ground and he falls over a lot.  Did I mention that we go outside EVERY DAY?  It’s the only way to ensure he will both nap and sleep through the night (that’s right folks, THROUGH THE NIGHT, as in, at least for the next two months, I get a full nights sleep most nights–totally worth going outside even in ridiculous Icelandic weather)

But I digress:)  I won’t bother trying to do a tutorial for these because there are about a million already out there–here’s one that looks about like what I did, but all you have to do is google it to get several versions.  I will say, though, that the rise on these did not end up as deep as I would have liked because I did a pretty long inseam for my tall little toddler, so they’re kinda low-riders.  I also added an extra panel in the back of two pairs, just to make sure the diaper would fit inside.  Otherwise, these were quick and dirty, no frills, not even CLOSE to neat seams, and what I would give for a serger to make them a little more durable!  Zig-zag stitch worked ok though.
I was so anxious to get started one night that I didn’t even take a picture of the green sleeves before they became pants!  Then, of course, it took at least two weeks before the rest got done as I lost a little bit of steam:)
An old J.Crew sweater, the rest of which I used for the lion snuggly way back last spring.
These did have an extra panel in the back, but didn’t really need it.

 I love these, though, check out the waistband–look kinda funny?  Yeah, I totally sewed the elastic casing inside-out.  When will I learn?  DON’T SEW WHEN VERY TIRED!!  I just left it, b/c they work.
Sorry for the darkish picture but you can clearly see the extra back panel here; these are thinner cotton, navy stripe on white, so adorable and comfy.
 All of these work perfectly under snow pants as well as for every day wear, and as cozy pi’s.  I kinda want some.


Posted by on March 13, 2012 in My Projects


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A Little Dirt on a Monday

I have high hopes of returning to crafting soon (before and after pics of my messy studio may make an appearance), and will post the things I make for Everett’s upcoming birthday–they will be done in time for his party on October 1st, not his actual birthday, which is Wednesday.  That’s just how it’s gotta be.  And maybe once that’s through, I’ll make room for a giveaway of some kind, wouldn’t that be fun?!

But before all of that, I just cannot resist posting a few adorable pics of my little man, who was overjoyed when the grey day brightened up this evening just as I was starting to prepare dinner.  I took a break to take him into the backyard for some much-needed sunshine and dirt.  The results (beware, this proud mama of an almost 1-year-old definitely went overboard with the pictures):

I've got my trowell and I'm ready to work, Mama!

I'll start with the arugula (or rocket, for our European friends),

Moving on to the basil!

dirty bottom. . .I mean, c'mon, how could I NOT allow this?

This thing makes a crinkly sound I'm really diggin'

Dirty hands

But it's really all much better without the clothes

So then a police chopper came circling RIGHT overhead and we were reminded that, Oh yeah, we live in the city, and sometimes bank robbers get loose and we should probably go inside and avoid getting caught in any potential crossfire.

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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Fun with Everett


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A Little Handstitching for some Little Hands

I love making stuff for others; gift giving is definitely one of my love languages, if you will.  I had an excellent conversation with my husband the other night about this in which he gently and beautifully reminded me to be careful of seeking validation in this gift giving, but rather to hope that said gifts might reveal a little bit of Christ to the receiver (I feel a whole essay coming on here. . .).  I’ve also realized since having Everett, that giving gifts to little people is in a big way also giving gifts to their parents–I found while working on the following that while I certainly hoped the children would enjoy the gifts, I recognized that kids can be fickle and have short attention spans.  But I really hoped and desired that their parents felt loved by my gesture toward their children, just as I have felt so well cared for by the many lovely gifts showered on Everett over the past year.  The following were all made months ago, just getting around to gathering the pics:)

Finger Puppets and Poem for William
I mentioned visiting my friend Sally and her family awhile back, and her son William had his 6th birthday about a month before we got together, so I wanted to have something for him.  Sally said his favorite animals (right now) are bats, and his favorite color is blue.  I set out to make a flock of bat finger puppets in different colors, then stumbled upon this poem by Walter de la Mer, who turned out to be one of Sally’s favorites, and copied it onto a little card:
All but blind

All but blind in his chambered hole,
Gropes for worms the four-clawed mole.

All but blind in the burning day,
The barn owl blunders on her way.

And blind as are these three to me,
So blind to someone I must be.

So I ended up with one bat, one mole, and one owl!

(Sweet William trying them out–I used my pinky finger as a model for size, worked perfectly!  We get to see this family again tonight at they are graciously letting us crash with them in London before we head on to our next destination on Monday)

Scrappy Lovees for Elsie and Evan
My cousin and his wife welcomed baby twins earlier this year, and as soon as I saw the first pictures on facebook I just HAD to make something for them!  Out of nowhere the idea for these little lovees hit me and I took off cutting up two old sweaters and t-shirts I had brought with me.
I made the bunny first, and this particular sweater stretched out WAY more than I expected when I stuffed the head, which is why it’s so much bigger than the lion!
The big seams I did on the machine, but the important little details were all done by hand; much easier that way.

Arm Warmers for Katy
So Katy is a grown woman so her hands aren’t exactly “little,” BUT they are much more slender and dainty and lovely than mine so I thought this project would fit in this post anyway.  I cooked up this idea the moment Katy mentioned having once seen something kinda like it and always regretted not buying them.  They’re also upcycled from an old sweater with some special lace from the Liberty store as a girly (and hopefully not too itchy) touch around the top!

Please let me know if you think tutorials for any of the above would be something you’d be interested in (or anything else you see here, by the way)–I want to do one for the little lovees, but they were so experimental that I feel like I’d have to do another few before I perfect them enough to write a pattern; the finger puppets were fun and easy and there are about a million similar things available out there on Etsy and the like–most of you who sew could probably figure out how to make them just by looking closely at the pictures, but it would take little to whip up a quick pattern and instructions.  So comment and I’ll get to work!


Posted by on May 8, 2011 in My Projects


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Belongings: A New Series

During this whole trip I have been pondering how to love and nurture my family by creating space and time that is our own no matter where we happen to be.  This whole blog is sort of about that too, but I thought I would take some time to suss out some specific strategies I’ve learned (and am learning) in a series of installments that will hopefully help you too, whether you’re traveling for a weekend or getting uprooted for a longer time, or maybe even inspire some thinking about life in your permanent home.  I by no means claim to be an expert–there are plenty of others out there who have done a lot more traveling for a much longer time with more kids!  So this is just my take, and as always, I’d love to hear from any of you with stories and feedback!  So, here’s my first article in this series:

One Back Pack, One Blankie, and One Stuffed Animal

When I was growing up, my family took lots of road trips because our extended family all lived in other states.  There were three of us kids, so a packing allowance was a must.  Besides our clothes, which went in the “back pack” of the car, we were allowed to keep with us one back pack full of books, games, paper, and crafty stuff (I think at some point mom had to veto scissors, glue, and glitter, at least until I was old enough to have scissors as part of a sewing or embroidery project); one blankie, and we all had ones that had been made for us by various relatives that worked perfectly in for covering up in the van; and one, strictly ONE stuffed animal or doll.  I always brought my Raggedy Ann doll, made by my Grandma Jean, though once I got my American Girl in 3rd grade, I may have fenagled some excuse to bring both.  As a grown up with a baby, this formula seems to still hold together as the perfect recipe for keeping well-loved things close for the purpose of personalizing any space, while also keeping me from going overboard and bringing too much (which is both heavy and makes it easy to lose track of such precious items!)  Of course, these things look slightly different now, but I think they boil down to the same concepts.

Part of my current "back pack," a travel sewing kit contained in a William & Kate commemorative tin (that originally contained shortbread from Marks & Spencers)

One Back Pack: The real point of this one is that you must keep the things you love to do with you at all times; those things that make you who you are, that help you relax, and keep you sane.  For me that means always having a sketch book, at least one or two portable projects like knitting or embroidery, a journal, a book or two that at least remind me of my good intentions to read more, and myriad pens and pencils.  I can look back on how my back pack has changed over the years–once stuffed with American Girl paper dolls, at least 5 books of poetry and a rhyming dictionary, or crammed with my giant cd wallet and a diskman–and see how I’ve changed and grown all reflected in those things that were important enough to me to carry and cram in on road trips.  For our trip to London, I also insisted on bringing my sewing machine, which did not of course fit in my backpack, but was crucial to me as I felt like during this time in my life, making things for my family, our home, and friends was a really important way that I could love and nurture them.

Everett in his little corner of our current living room, wearing a handmade sweater from friend Janet and Gwen's quilt as his playmat. I brought a few more toys than just one:)

One Blankie: Quite literally, bring something along that keeps you warm and reminds you of someone or something important.  We received many many beautiful handmade blankets and quilts when Everett was born.  It was hard enough choosing which ones to bring with us to London, but for the current jaunt around Europe we had to narrow down even more.  I brought with us a quilt made by our dear friend Gwen (also seen in our London nursery) because it’s durable, beautiful, and can work as a play mat.  It can both serve to keep us warm and warm up whatever space we’re in.

One Stuffed Animal: This represents a personal item that doesn’t necessarily serve a specific purpose (like the stuff in your back pack) but that can comfort you in those sometimes surprising moments of homesickness.  I tend to keep with me letters and cards sent from friends, or other little trinkets people have made for me, to read and turn over in my hands, a tangible reminder that distance is not insurmountable.  Of course, a computer and internet connection helps a lot too:)

**Stay tuned–I will announce the winner of the Giveaway tomorrow!!**

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Posted by on May 4, 2011 in Belongings


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