Before the New Year

Just before the new year began, I celebrated my 38th birthday.  My older boys were good enough to help me count down the days until my birthday in this fashion:  “Mommy! Two years and four (3,2,1) days until you turn 40!”  Jonny asked me again and again what I wanted, and if I wanted a party.  “Nothing, and no thank you!!”  My parents sent me birthday money, and I did order myself some crazy new boots (love them), but I didn’t have any pressing wants.  I spent the morning in bed finishing my barn sweater (I’ll share some proper photos later this week) while Jonny took the littles to the grocery store to buy ingredients for my birthday breakfast (I requested oatmeal with peaches and bacon on the side).  They each purchased me a gift while they were out:  mostly all living, they know me well.  Two primroses that I will likely kill quickly, and a lovely little potted iris that will hopefully bloom in the coming months in my windowsill.  Gabe bought me a new mug.  He knows they are constantly getting broken.  My sister sent a couple of vintage tins full of my grandmother’s napkins.  Those made me really happy.  I had an impromptu lunch out and returned home for more knitting in bed.  I finished the little blue hat I was working on for Beatrix and discovered that it was a better fit on Larkspur.  I have since cast on one in a larger size for myself using some lavender gray yarn, the same single ply yarn that I knit the first hat in. Next, I will need to go down a size and knit another for Bea.  (I am unable to knit the exact same thing in the exact same color twice in a row!) Thankfully there is plenty of indigo yarn left for hers.

My kids fussed because I didn’t want a birthday cake, or dessert of any kind.  At some point during the day, I found a paper crane on my bed, with the words “Happy Birthday” on it.  Keats’ work.  It was a nice, quiet, happy birthday.  We made brownies on New Year’s eve, and I think that made up for my lack of birthday sweets.

Last night, while I sat on my bed knitting, Larkspur joined me along with her gerbil care book and a seed catalog.  She is planning her garden already, and hoping to grow her own gerbil food, her idea. Sitting there with her, while she circled plants and added up prices, I thought how much she is like me, and how that is pretty neat.  She chattered away about growing, baking, and then dehydrating potatoes and I tried not to smile too much, afraid she would think I wasn’t taking her seriously.  I do.  It’s just a little too precious.  A gerbil garden.

Jonny and I have some goals for this year, and while we are working towards them, I think I am working hardest to focus on the present moment rather than the big picture.  Sometimes the big picture is too much.  I’m starting my mornings with a new book, a birthday gift from a friend, Mornings with Saint Thérèse.  Simple, brief readings, perfect for me.  I want to try to keep things simple right now.  No big resolutions, no word for the year.  Just doing the next thing, and trying to do it well.  That’s my plan for 2016.

Happy New Year to all of you!!!


  1. not sure if I wished you a happy birthday – I read the post but I think I didn’t comment…anyways….Happy Birthday!!!

  2. Leslie in VA says:

    Happy Birthday! I love “keeper of the Bees”!! One of my all time favorites!

  3. Leslie in VA says:

    Happy Birthday! So excited to see you reading “Keeper of the Bees” as it is one of my favorites!

  4. Best post ever. Happy birthday, dear love. 2016 is going to be lovely. Xoxo

  5. Megan Wahl says:

    I love the idea of a gerbil garden. My 9 year old self would have definitely collaborated with her on that project for sure! I fondly remember my first gerbil (given to me by a very patient and squeamish mother who kindly said yes to pets and then handled them with oven mitts). I got it for Christmas. A few days later, my mom peeked into the little plastic house in the cage and screamed- “There are worms inside!” Not worms, baby gerbils. A lot of baby gerbils. I was thrilled!

  6. Happy Birthday and Happy New Year!

  7. Happy Birthday!!!

  8. Happy Belated Birthday. Wishing you a year of health,happiness and blessings.
    Marion and family

  9. I loved this so much. This morning I got lost in old pictures. It was by accident. First there were pictures of my nine year old as a baby and then pictures of my husband and I when we had our first daughter. 17 years ago. I don’t know where the time has gone. But it’s only going quicker.
    I’ve been thinking about the overwhelming bigness of everything in our lives right now, and how it DOES just seem like too much some days. Or impossible. I always secretly hate new years resolutions for this reason. But breaking it down and instead living each day in the moment, and mindfully choosing how to follow through with the task at hand…. that sounds ok with me. One step at a time, with love…. xo

  10. Your photos are always so lovely. I can’t wait to see more of the Barn Sweater – I want to knit myself one this year! Maybe next, if I’m going to try to finish off some of my other in-progress knits first. Happy Birthday to you! Your quiet day sounds just lovely.

  11. “I think I am working hardest to focus on the present moment rather than the big picture.” Yes! Exactly! Absolutely! I am going to write this down and read it every morning. Thank you.

  12. Happy Birthday! Story and photos beautiful and peaceful as always.

  13. Happy 38th! I’ll be celebrating my 38th this year too. Weird how suddenly we hit late 30’s…and I still think I’m 24. Can’t wait to see your barn sweater pictures. I think I told you, but I have worn my barn sweater so much that the poor thing looks like a kid’s well loved blanket. And the yellow yarn you knitted with is the yarn I knit my Channel Cardigan by Jared Flood with and it wears beautifully! You’ll live in the sweater. Love your Larkspur story. There are days that I wish so much I had a little girl. But my littlest boy is so much like me, so at least I got one out of three!! Happy New Year 🙂

  14. Happy New Year Ginny!!!

  15. Larkspur is precious with her gerbil garden. My four year old girl requested a fairy garden this year. I hope to indulge her. As I’m expecting my fourth child in the middle of August (TN August baby – ignore my whimpering at the thought of being huge during the hottest, most humid month of the year) – I didn’t set any lofty goals or pick a word either. It was too much to think about. Maybe next year.

  16. A gerbil garden! I love it!
    Your birthday sounds perfect–brownies are always welcome, aren’t they? I haven’t quite mastered knitting in bed yet, but I might have to try that soon because it sounds delicious!

  17. Happy Birthday–sounds like a lovely day!

    My oldest (7 yo) has been listing and adding up seed orders for weeks now–every time a new seed catalog arrives he pounces on it! His plans include growing wheat to make flour to use in the things he makes for his bakery! 🙂 Love L’s idea for a gerbil garden!

  18. wishing you the happiest of birthdays and a lovely new year ginny!

    (and your barn sweater looks wonderful, that colour! i wear mine all the time – it’s the most perfect cardigan.)

  19. “No big resolutions, no word for the year. Just doing the next thing, and trying to do it well. ”

    Wow, that sums it up perfectly. After 2015–which I am delighted to see the end of–I don’t have the energy for big changes, big resolutions, words of the year, etc. But that up there? Doing the next thing? That sounds just about right. Thank you. And happy new year (and belated happy birthday as well!).

  20. Hi Ginny, I am new to your blog. I really enjoy your photography and appreciate your lifestyle of simplicity and beauty. I am going to recommend a blogger to you that I know you will hit if off with. She is a sweet lady of your faith, a mother of nine and likes to knit or crochet. Her name is Melanie Jean Juneau. I hope you look her up.. A Happy and Healthy New Years to you and yours…

  21. Happy birthday, Ginny! I hope you all have a wonderful year.

  22. I wished you a happy birthday on Facebook and I do it again now. :). It sounds like your day was wonderful.

  23. Okla lady says:

    Happy happy birthday! I’m going to order the book. Thanks so much for your uplifting posts.

  24. A most happy birthday year to you Ginny. You have been such a gift to me all year as I followed you . Thank you so much for YOU.

  25. Rachel D. says:

    Happy birthday and best wishes for a new year!

  26. Happy belated birthday Ginny! Sounds like a lovely, relaxing celebration with your family! I have the same St. Therese book! Love it! Have a blessed 2016!

  27. Happy (belated) Birthday! Sounds like you had a perfect day to celebrate your special day. Looking forward to seeing your sweater pictures.

  28. Dana in Michigan says:

    Happy (belated) Birthday Ginny! Your sweater looks lovely!

  29. Happy Birthday! Your day sounded wonderful, filled with family and knitting….all a MOM needs, oh, and bacon!

  30. Happy Birthday!

    That looks like a wonderful book. I can’t wait for more pictures of your finished sweater!

    We are packing our bags and returning to Poland on Thursday. The big picture is so out of focus I couldn’t dwell on it if I wanted to. Day to day living is just right, for right now.

    Peace be with you!

  31. Happy New Year, Ginny! And happy belated birthday too, of course :).

    A gerbil garden…what an *excellent* idea. Larkspur sounds wonderful, and so does your birthday. I love the picture of you and…is it Job? He’s so big, I thought it was Silas at first! In any case, I love that picture; it looks like a painting.

    Have a great year :).

  32. Happy New Year and Happy Birthday! I loved your description of your birthday; what a delicious way to spend the day! And thank you for reminding me of what’s important. I get a little stressed out around New Year’s and feel all this pressure to make grand plans, so this post was quite timely for me. “Just doing the next thing, and trying to do it well.” wow, those were the words that I needed to hear.

  33. Happy Birthday Ginny, and Happy New Year! I’m a long time quiet reader here, and you’re one major inspiration that led me to start a tiny blog of my own this year 🙂 Thank you for years of inspiration, and wishing you much joy in your new year!!
    PS 2 years is a lot of living before turning 40, and it isn’t so bad~ I find that I have much more street cred with other grown-ups now that I am firmly planted in this decade;-)

  34. Happy happy birthday, I just love your 2016 plan.

    Thank you for sharing your world. You are a gift to us all!

  35. Your photos always focus on just the right thing. Happy New Year to you, and Happy Birthday. (but I think you should ask for a cake, for the sake of the others) 🙂

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