October is my husband's birthday month, and every year he asks for the same party: outside, a fire pit, some ping pong, and a huge group of people. There's a lot of prep work to lead up to it, and I wish I could say inviting 70 people into our backyard for soup and hot chocolate is stress free for me. I am, however, thankful for a husband who stopped me in my tracks and prayed with me when I was at the height of my scurrying. The party went beautifully. God answered prayer with perfect weather, just chilly enough to make soup and coco inviting, but not a breeze in the air which kept the smoke out of our faces. We're thankful.

I had told you that Matt was thinking about starting his own Window Washing business, and I thought it was time to give you an update. He spoke to his boss, and she gave him a raise, paid vacation and holidays, and reminded him that he signed a non-compete form when he arrived. So, we're on hold; Thankful for the raise and the improvements in his current position, and looking toward the future still. Because of the non-compete form, Matt would have to wait a year after quitting his current job, before starting his own Window Washing Business. The timing isn't right, yet, so we're waiting, praying.

Our house is still on the market, and awhile ago, we got a full price offer. If the house we had been hoping for was still on the market, we would have (of course) jumped on it and paid closing costs for him, but we haven't found another house we like better than ours since the house we had wanted sold. So, we told him he'd have to cover his own closing costs if he wanted to make us homeless, and he walked away. It's just as well. I love our house. At the end of November, our house will be off the market, and our plan, God willing, is to pay our house down so that when it is time to sell, we're walking away with more of a down payment for our next house.

Do you guys invest? I feel like no one taught us how to invest and more people should pass on information like that! I've only been researching and investing for a couple of months, so I'm totally not qualified to teach, BUT if you need just simple information on what funds we invest in and such, I'm an open book! This feels a little like a word-dump, but I had a minute, and I thought I'd update you on how our life is going, and how we see the Lord leading us this fall!



Charlotte Pear: Ten Months

Some nights she needs me five separate times, crying until I bring her close to me, cuddling her in the darkness and filling her body with God gifted comfort. Other nights, when my expectations are low, she'll sleep nine hours straight and give me the exact refreshing that God knows my tired heart needs.

She is outgrowing clothes quicker than I can keep up, and as I folded individual pieces, she crawled (wounded army style, still) over to the bin I was working with and stood herself up, like it was old hat. Each milestone is a gift. Each shirt that no longer fits is a treasure. The gift of life, growth, and breath. Gifts not every baby is given.

She says "baby" lately, practicing already mothering bunnies and humans alike, with a bunny that I had when I was younger as a particular favorite. We're thankful, ever thankful, to parent this bright eyed girl.


Maura Griffin

For two and a half years, every day (give or take a couple), a mommy with a bright laugh trusted her baby daughter to me. I've watched many children, but I've never felt so much like a mommy to someone else's child.

She's off to Preschool now, and though she left us weeks ago, I'm just coming to terms with the fact that I need to write her goodbye post. I need to type into this diary that I love Maura Griffin, and I'm sad that she doesn't get to grow at my house any more.

God gave her to me on purpose. Before I knew I needed her, He brought her into my life. Our son Christian died when Maura was just a year old, and I needed her there every morning so that I had a "normal." I needed someone to snuggle and love on. I needed someone to take care of in my grief.

Maura is feisty. Willful. Beautiful. She's sweet to Charlotte and loves to help me. She eats avocados by the spoonful and chooses fries over any other food. She's not my child, but I see myself in her. She lights up when Matt gets home from work, and she is always willing to take time out of our day to pet a cat. She calls my father "my dad", like that's his name. We miss her. Collectively, the people in my life miss her. I've prayed for her for years, and I'm not stopping now.


Charlotte Pear: Nine Months

Charlotte at nine months has five teeth. She's gone through some sleep deprived nights, where we've reverted back to her newborn sleep habits of needing food every couple of hours. She loves her Johnny jump up, and though she can't go from sitting to standing, she loves to stand against the couch when we help her get that way. She eats more food these days, good at picking up her own bits and getting them (mostly) to her mouth. She can clap and high five, and sometimes she waves. She doesn't talk yet, but she babbles often.

The house we were praying would be our forever home sold, but God has given me heaps of contentment in our current home. After looking at other homes, I've grown to reappreciate our home. I love all the windows, letting light into every room. I love the hardwood floors and the beautifully updated kitchen. I love the nooks and spots that old houses have, with strange shaped doorways and a built in desk. Mostly, though, of course, I love the hard working man who I share my bed every night with, and the sweet baby who sleeps across the hall. No matter if we live in our current home for the next fifty years or find someplace with a fireplace and some extra land for gardening and nature journals, I'm thankful to have a husband who loves me and trusts our God. We have another showing tomorrow, so our house could still sell, even with no home in mind to move toward living in next. God knows.

Matt and I have looked into starting our own Window Cleaning business (Matt's trade). We've run all the numbers and had some financial and business meetings, and Matt has talked to his boss. He's under obligation to not wash windows for an entire year after leaving his current job, and his boss offered him a raise and more (and better pay) paid vacation days if he'll stay. It's a crossroads for our family. Either we're starting a new job (doing something else for a year) while working towards beginning our own business a year from now, or we're staying the course, continuing with the job that we know came from God's hands five years ago. Matt is a steady, honest, reliable person and worker, and the fact that he had in his mind to begin something new is the kind of process that he doesn't enter into lightly. Pray with us, that we'll seek God in this as we make a decision that will affect us now, as well as long term.


Chincoteague Island

On Labor Day, our little family took a road trip up the Eastern Shore to Chincoteaugue Island, home of the wild ponies. We walked around the quiet town, buying handmade soap and hardback children's books (from this booklist) before heading to the Assateague lighthouse. It was Matt and Charlotte's first lighthouse climb, and the elderly lighthouse keeper gave Charlotte a Junior Lighthouse Keeper badge that feels like the start of a good tradition.

It's peaceful to set aside time to spend, just the three of us. Charlotte tasted ice cream for the first time at the best ice cream shop in Virginia, which she loved (I expect nothing less from a daughter of mine). Matt and I each had a scoop of ice cream, but it's not as fun to eat sugar after you've gone months without it. It made my teeth feel gross (while tasting delicious). I'm down to 139 pounds, so I've lost over sixty pounds this year! Both Matt and I only have a few more pounds to lose! I still (and forever) recommend Trim, Healthy Mamas way of eating. And, since I'm making recommendations (and talking about lighthouses), I saw "The Light Between Oceans" over the weekend, and it's the best movie I've ever seen. Sad, absolutely, but incredibly beautiful.

I'm thankful for a whole day carved out for family time with breezy, overcast, perfect weather and a Christ-honoring sermon about humility to teach our hearts as we made the trip.



Recently, my sister-in-law began a bookclub. It was well timed, since I'd been listening to podcasts/reading articles from Wild + Free and At Home about starting homeschool bookclubs, and planning my future bookclub. Sometimes I spend too much time focused on the future, and what I'm GOING TO DO, and not enough time doing actual stuff in the present. So, this post isn't about my future homeschool bookclub, or even the bookclub for adults that I am currently attending. This post is about the booklist that I've added to the tabs on this blog. It'll be a running list of books I recommend and also what I'm currently reading.

My favorite books, as you'll notice, seem to be non-fiction marriage/parenting/homeschool/lifestyle books where someone who has walked ahead of me gives me advice on what worked for/helped them. I do not enjoy or glean from every such book I read, but this does seem to be where I lean most heavily.

Charlotte Pear: Eight Months

Over a year ago, with empty arms, I wrote a post about wishing I had a baby to push in the swing in the backyard. I had expectation deferred when Christian died, and it hurt-hurt-hurt. Now, I often just whisper prayers of thanksgiving into my baby girl's wispy, light hair, knowing full well that not everyone has a baby to love and hold.

Charlotte at eight months has three teeth, two on bottom and one on top. She sits up and army crawls all over whatever room we put her down in. She says "mamma" and "ad-da", though only says my name when I've put her down, or someone else is holding her and she wants me. Last night, I was nursing her in our bed, and she was reaching for her daddy, who lay asleep beside us. She couldn't quite reach him, so she pulled herself away from me and shrieked, "DA!" Oh, how impressed she was with herself when he woke up and smiled at her.

She'll eat anything that we feed to her, and has even successfully picked up a couple of pieces of food and gotten them into her mouth. The pieces that miss her mouth, fall to her lap, and eventually the floor, where Max is willing help with clean up. She doesn't limit herself, eating grass and other things that aren't technically food.

She's brave: loving to be pushed (much too high) in the backyard swing and thrown up to the ceiling by her dada. Most of the day she's content and sweet. Happy, so long as her diaper is changed and her tummy is full, but she has bursts of discontentment. Upset when I tell her she can't touch cords that run to the walls or chew on plastic bags. A baby, with all of the normal, willful tendencies that all humans have.

I like to watch the world freshly through her eyes; Watching seagulls while lying on the grass in our backyard, or watching Tater climb into our basket of blankets in the living room. Everything is new and unsystematic. I'm seeking God's Word for wisdom as we choose the things that will be normal and habitual for us, the Norfolk Nowaks.