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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

Cheeky!

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Bryndís

 

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Transient once again. . .or still

Yep, as many of you know already, because you know me, we have left St. Louis once again and are living in Iceland for the next 5 1/2 months.  We only just found out we’d be coming a week before Christmas, so in the scramble to get everything sorted out we actually left our house several weeks ago so a renter could move in and have spent the time in between at a weekly rental with Eric’s parents, a friends’ house, and my parents house.  We finally flew out of Nashville on Tuesday and arrived in Reykjavik on Thursday morning, local time.  But in truth, our state of transience never really seemed to go away, even after we returned to the U.S. back in August.   So much has been in flux or in a less-than-certain mode that truly settling in never happened.  You see, the possibility that we might get to come to Iceland this semester always existed, and as a result (this just dawned on us the other day), Eric and I both felt frustrated and overwhelmed by the present and completely unable to settle into anything–not our house, not a routine, not any kind of contentment–throughout the fall.  For me this took the form of hating my house, which seemed to never ever get clean or organized; going mad with the sense that my very active and mobile child was stealing all of my identity by monopolizing my time and energy (and messing up the house), and the inability to commit to certain activities in case I had to leave them.  I also found out in September that I’m expecting again, so first-trimester discomfort and lack of energy, combined with several bouts of illness in the house, turned me into a whimpering little girl on several occasions.

And yet, it finally crystalized in my heart as the plane took off the other day, that all of this fostered in me a dependence on others like I have never ever experienced in my life (or at least as an adult).  Up to this point, even after Everett was born, I had a fierce sense of independence and self-reliance; a determination to make it on my own and basically, to do whatever I wanted.  Marriage changed this a little bit, but having a toddler (as opposed to a complacent, portable baby) changed it completely!  With Eric using our only car 2-3 days out of the week, being alone with this adorable, crazy, into-everything little boy was breaking me down.  Community, human contact, and conversation went from being things I loved and enjoyed to things I could not live without.  And I had to surrender my notions of being a perfect, “got-it-all-together” kind of mom and do things like drop my kid off with friends at the last minute b/c I forgot about an appointment, let a friend come over and help me clean up because the task felt insurmountable, invite myself and my toddler over for a play date and gladly accept if a dinner invitation happened to follow.  So even though I never really felt like I settled back in at our home in St. Louis, it was extra hard to leave this time around.  It felt like much more than leaving a place and rather like leaving a version of myself in which I had grown comfortably reliant on others to remind me of who I am and where my limitations lie.

Watching the snow fall, which it did on and off all day yesterday, from the giant picture window in our current living room

So now a task is before us–find community in this strange place.  I’m already intimidated by the language barrier and the fact that our apartment is located in a part of town which which I am unfamiliar.  But I am still relying on my husband and everyone at home to stay in touch, pray for us, and let me be sad and lonely sometimes.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in At Home, Travel, Writings

 

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Belated 1st Birthday

So I confess, life back in St. Louis hardly seems blog-worthy these days.  Eric teaches two days a week, during which he has our only car, and keeps a pretty rigorous research and writing schedule the other three-to-four days, so mostly I hang out with Everett, try to keep the place liveable amongst a mess of stuff that has been displaced from the lowest shelves, and try to find things to keep both of us occupied, inside or outside the house.  This does not often include world-class museums, monuments, or even shopping that is not necessary for survival.  And it rarely leaves time anymore for creative endeavors.  Eric’s mom was visiting us for awhile back in September, which gave me some extra time, and planning and preparing for Everett’s first birthday party–which we held a week and a half after his actual birthday–has been my main creative outlet recently.  I thought it would be fun to have a travel-themed party, given the fact that Everett spent more of his first year outside of the U.S. than here, so we had some travel themed activities, favors, and food from each country we visited.  Both sets of grandparents were here, as well as my brother, and we had an absolutely perfect day for the outdoor affair.  I think it was a total success!

Little sketchbooks made to look like passports ("PASSPORT" is stamped in gold on them but it was pretty hard to see), along with stickers that looked like passport stamps

Our favor boxes, meant to look kinda like suitcases, with some luggage tags made from leftover oilcloth scraps--tutorial anyone? They were super easy to make! Inside were European candies (from World Market) and space for their activities like. . .

these little wooden airplanes from Oriental Trading Co., easily "painted" with crayola markers!

Some decor--simple flags cut from an old U.S. road atlas and sewn together at the top--also super easy!

The cake--maple walnut with maple cream cheese icing--to represent Canada (along with the moose finger-puppet-turned-cake-topper)

The birthday boy with his first taste of cake

Our earliest guests enjoying themselves--eventually the backyard was full of toddlers and older sibblings and parents and it was fantastic!

Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures of the food table, I was too busy trying to get the food finished and out and keeping cool or warm!  But we had dutch pannekoeken (pancakes, a lot like crepes) with nutella and other spreads, scones with jam and cream mini steak and ale pies, chips (fries) with malt vinegar (English style) and mayonaise (Dutch style), salad with our favorite L’Abri recipe dressing, and Icelandic skyr (yogurt) that I managed to find at Whole Foods.

Everett opened presents with just family after everyone else had left, at which point he was totally overwhelmed and a bit glassy-eyed so the pictures are more amusing than adorable, but he got lots of good stuff, and we are grateful for lots of new toys to keep him occupied (we had painfully few after all the traveling!)

I am hoping to participate in a couple of craft shows coming up, and I also want to add a few things to my currently inactive etsy shop, so keep an eye out for a possible giveaway as I attempt to draw more attention to myself:)

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Fun with Everett, My Projects

 

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Reflection

About a week ago I sat down and started to write a long essay about our time at L’Abri with the hope of posting it soon.  I have concluded, however, that the long hand material is probably best left to my journal or a conversation over coffee (should you and I ever get the chance).  For here and now I will just say that it was a phenomenal period in the life of our family.  We learned a lot; I feel like I learned a whole lot about myself, which I hope will lead to a more fruitful life of service in God’s kingdom, as well as continued growth and a delightfully unquenchable yearning for truth and beauty.  We learned a lot about our marriage and about being parents, and the experience of meeting and getting to know and spend some rather intense time with people from all over the world was extraordinary and special.  I think the most difficult aspect of leaving and going forward, as filled up as I have felt, is the separation from a group of people who were so important to our daily lives in a more intense way than one can find anywhere else.  It feels a little like being pushed out of the nest sometimes, but it is a new challenge to continue those relationships over distance and  to find ways to continue to be a part of each other’s daily lives.

I give you now a whole slew of pictures that I feel just scratch the surface of capturing the beauty of this place and our time there this summer:

Huize Kortenhoeve, the main house

Eric's desk with his collection of books for the research he did while we were there (when the project comes to fruition, you can be sure I will shamelessly plug it here!!)

Tea break! (Thanks to Noah Emrich for the picture; he's way too cool to be my friend, but I'm glad he is:-))

Pitting endless amounts of sour cherries (how awesome that it was cool enough in June to wear a scarf?)

Strawberry rhubarb pie by yours truly for afternoon tea

Bonfire on a Sunday evening

New friend Story in the living room at evening coffee time

Mia (Everett's little buddy) in the pajamas I made for her (still more time for sewing!!)

Everett loving the tire swing (in the days when he would still wear a hat)

I hope we get to go back one day but for now I’m thankful we got to go at all, and thankful for every person that we met, the deeper friendships that had a chance to evolve over the 7 week stay, the books read, the lectures listened to, the frustrating, challenging, maddening moments, and the sweetness of a simplified life.

 

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Catch up!

Ah dear readers, if there are any left, forgive my long hiatus! To be honest, I’ve stayed away because of a desire to hibernate a bit in addition to the fact that I really have not had access to internet on any consistent basis since the end of May! I will spend a few days playing catch up on some fun and interesting things that have happened over the past couple of months, then hopefully I can share a little bit about what it has been like to come home. . .whatever that means, right? So, first up, I just have to share about what we did on our anniversary back on June 30th:

Strong Christmas-card pic contender--thanks Meg!!

So, what do you get when you combine a beautiful national park, free bicycles (with baby seats!) and a world-class art museum? A VERY happy Emily! The Kröller-Müller Museum in Holland (and yes, it’s just as much fun to say as you might think) is one woman’s collection housed in a museum right in the middle of a huge park with bike trails and very unusual landscapes for the Netherlands. Our dear friend Kara had been before and drove us, along with another friend Meg, one Thursday (free day for L’Abri students) which also happened to be our 4th wedding anniversary. We parked at the edge of the park, grabbed some of the free bikes, and rode around till we reached the museum.

Meg and Kara in the strangely desert-like landscape of the park

A stop for lunch and to feed some ducks.

Once at the museum, we took in the sights which included an incredible collection of Van Gogh’s–famous ones like Cafe in Paris at Night, and some very early ones, arranged beautifully to show a progression of his style (plus I learned the proper pronunciation of his name, which is neither Van Go nor Van Goff, but it’s impossible to spell out the guttural sound that is correct!) Also in the museum were some great Mondrians next to some members of De Stijl (like Theo Van Doesberg); a few cubist masterpieces with Braque, Gris and Picasso juxtaposed nicely with some lesser known artists; some old masters like Vermeer; and a temporary exhibition of one contemporary artist whose work was interesting but I could personally take or leave it. So this art geek was happy! There was also a sculpture park, around which we wandered (with the complimentary stroller) to try and get Everett to sleep–he loved the bike ride, got a little restless in the museum–and then met back up with Kara and Meg inside for a coffee.

yummy Dutch beer

We stopped for pannekoeken–Dutch pancakes that come in all manner of sweet and savory varieties–and beer on our way home, which was a perfect end to a pretty much perfect day.

Happy Anniversary Mama and Daddy!

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Fun with Everett, Travel

 

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What my Lent should Look Like

I do have a few posts in the works about our recent travels and time spent around London that will include lots of pictures, but in the meantime, I implore you to read this and offer any and all comments!

Cross of St. Cuthbert, Durham Cathedral yard, Durham, England

Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, and the whole Lenten season has completely sneaked up on me this year.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I missed church this week because of a cold, or that I’m just generally far away from my normal liturgical community, or am consumed with thoughts of other things, for better or worse.  But I have felt convicted by the tiniest little hints at what other people in my life (and cyberspace) are doing to mark this time of year–little mentions on facebook about giving up facebook, or fried food, or coffee; the suggestion to download some free music (which I did) written specifically for the season; and even the sweet suggestion from a friend to try out Lenten services at one or both of the very famous cathedrals I happen to be living close to at the moment (how did I NOT think of that?)  Eric and I have discussed, in the past, the purpose of giving up something for lent–how to do so worshipfully, not just as a personal challenge like a New Years resolution; can the very process of doing away with an idol actually become and idol in itself? and, if I were to give something up, what on earth would it be?  I’ve often thought food items, like chocolate, sweets in general (eek!), or coffee, would almost be selfish–like using a liturgical season as a holy diet.  Facebook would probably be a good one, but not this year when it’s such a vital part of staying connected to my home family and keeping them apprised of Everett’s growth (though admittedly, I should probably reign in my constant compulsive checking in).  Television? maybe.  But what about, despite the rather explicit tradition of surrendering pleasures of the flesh, non-material things?

For instance, would it be appropriate to focus on giving up being defensive in arguments with Eric? my tendency towards self-pity when a kind gesture of mine isn’t received in the exact way that I have manufactured in my mind would be deserved? my judgment of others? my selfishness with my time? my burning desire for things and more things–beautiful things, sometimes very good things, but things nonetheless that take the place in my heart where Christ should be.

Or could Lent for me be about adding something to my life that is missing?  Daily Bible reading is an act that has terrified me for years; something which, despite many friends’ and my husbands’ loving and dutiful encouragement towards, strikes terror into my heart.  The superficial reasons for this date to my first religion course in college when I came to face the fact that translations are imperfect, as were the men who compiled the cannon, as were the men and women who taught me about Scripture growing up, which led to a serious distrust of everything I thought I knew about the Bible and my own ability to read it without completely misinterpreting every word.  More deeply, however, I don’t like to be told that I am wrong.  I don’t like to confront uncomfortable truths, and I really LOVE to believe I have a lot of stuff figured out based on my own ability to reason with the world, act in love as much as possible, and rely on what others tell me about the Bible without developing a relationship with it for myself.  As I write this, the thought occurs to me that, hmmmm, maybe this IS what my Lent needs to be about.

But where to start?  This is another terrifying question to answer–at the very beginning? with books I’ve never actually read before? with the psalms or proverbs–they’re fairly easy to digest, right? with the New Testament? Should I find a guide, a devotional book, a schedule to follow rigidly? Or do I just close my eyes, place the imposing volume on the table spine down and see where it falls open?

And how much time each day?  I’m prone to give up on things like this when I falter just a little or stray from the plan; very quick to dismiss it as useless if I don’t meet the mark I’ve set for myself, even if it was arbitrary to being with.  (Ha, and I take such pride in being goal-oriented and industrious. . .more proof that humans are terribly, sometimes miserably, complicated).  I have had very fruitful experiences with reading a long passage but just meditating over one line, sometimes less than a verse.  But once again, I tend to mistrust those experiences rather than relish in them as the still small voice of revelation.

Sometimes I wish, quite honestly, that I were a brand new Christian.  Maybe this is an oldest child kind of complex, this idea that since I’ve been a Christian my whole life, really, I should know what I’m doing by now.  If I were new at it, maybe it would be easier to admit that I need a lot of help.  A few years ago now I was ever so pleased to develop a friendship with someone who was just embarking on this crazy journey and was struck by what a blessing it was to experience Christ and the scriptures through her eyes–eyes that were in many ways fresh, but in many other ways more heartbroken over her human condition than I had ever truly been.  Her honesty about our brokenness was convicting, and her honesty with me and in her approach to Christ, her marriage, her other relationships with friends and family, perspectives on sermons, and living in community never ceases to convict and humble me whenever we speak (despite my, again oldest child, tendency to pretend like I know it all already).

This same friend has been one of the most faithful to encourage me towards actively developing my relationship with Christ–suggesting sermons to listen to, ways to pray, scripture to read–and always so earnest, in the same way someone might say, “oh my goodness, this recipe, you MUST try it, it’s to die for!” or, “have you heard this album or read this book yet? it’s really amazing.”  In other words, NOT in the way that I think many long-time Christians (and indeed, non-Christians) might be wary of–that condescending, patronizing, dripping-with-judgment and holier-than-thou-ness attitute that is so often and unfortunately a part of the language we feel the need to use with one another.

So perhaps, for this Lent season, what I need is to put on the clothes of the New Christian, the naivete, the wonder, the lack of cynicism, the earnestness, and above all, the fresh awe and admiration for my Savior–after all, Lent is also about new life and rebirth–and crack open my dusty Bible as though I’d never seen it before.  This still scares me, and I would love your thoughts on how to get started.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Et Cetera, Writings

 

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Some Finished Projects

So this last week has been very productive!  I’ve done lots of fairly quick projects and finally finished up the bumper for the crib so I can show nursery pics.  Here we go:

Hats for the London Chill
This one was knit out of need for Eric who is sort of particular about how hats fit but also very hard on his hats (and all his clothes) so it had to be durable and cover his ears.  I used Debbie Bliss luxury Donegal chunky.  I had thought I would do one hat with a different cable in it, but couldn’t find the right yarn in the shops here, so I bought this and found a pattern that suited it.  It only took about two afternoons from cast-on to finish.  Everett wanted to try it on:)

I also decided I needed a pretty hat.  I have a big comfy warm one, but it honestly hasn’t been too cold here, so I just wanted something to take the little chill off my ears.  I brought a ball of Cascade 220 that was leftover from another project and happened to have the right needles too for my new favorite pattern ever:
Believe it or not, this pattern was extremely simple and went really fast.  My only trouble was that I had circular needles in the right size, but not dpn’s, so I got almost all the way finished then it sat for 2 weeks while I hunted for dpns (which I could have ordered online and gotten sooner, but what are ya gonna do. . .)

If you’re on ravelry, you can find these patterns and notes in my projects; my name is ebbahandmade.

 

Pincussion
A little something just for me (and the sake of everybody’s bare feet).

Toy Bin
To corral the growing number of brightly colored, stuffed, rattly things lying around the flat.  From this tutorial (but I made mine roughly 10″x10″ and very haphazardly slid cereal boxes in to support the sides–I would recommend very stiff interfacing instead, but I didn’t have any and had already spent too much at the haberdasheries!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nursery
Nearly a month ago, we found a cheap crib (cot) online, we moved a bunch of furniture around (like my desk and a small trestle table), and gave Everett his own room while our room now doubles as a workspace for both Eric and I.  I had thought we’d keep him in our room a little longer, but he was no longer impervious to light (so we had to tiptoe around in the dark when we were ready for bed), and our room got very cold whereas the second room has the only new windows in the building and is small enough to stay very warm.
It took me awhile, but I finally got a bumper made from some fabric I brought with me–decided he needed something b/c he kept rolling over and getting stuck in the rungs, so despite buzz about SIDS, I made one from fabric but left out any batting, so it’s a little more breatheable.
I made long strips out of the orange octopus and seahorse fabric (by Heather Ross, HERE is a better close up of the pattern) and a plain undyed slubby cotton muslin.  I basted them together and used bias tape that I folded from the green fabric (no picture sadly) for the binding and ties.  So it’s just a long strip of fabric with Velcro at each end which is how it’s held one.  I left it at that at first, but then the middle started to sag so I added the ties this past weekend.  I was going to make a sheet for the mattress out of the green fabric, but I made about a million mistakes with cutting it out and made it impossible for myself. . .oops.

That sweet sailboat painting was already in the flat, I just moved it from our room, and has a lot of the same colors as in the bedding.  The nice yellow curtain was also already here–sweet, right!?

We brought along lots of baby stuff, but most importantly, some handmade keepsakes from some very special people.  You can see on the end of the bed in the top picture the brown jungle print blanket made by Grandma Jean.  Draped over the cot is a quilt made by our dear friend Gwen Durham, and this awesome wall hanging was made by my friend Eva all from t-shirts!

We use the little twin bed for a multipurpose surface–changing diapers, clothes, nursing, reading stories, etc.  It’s great to have a spot just for him.

I think he likes it too.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in At Home, My Projects

 

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