Category Archives: Imogen

Ten weeks into home school

We have just completed our tenth week of our new and improved home school.

The best way to describe what we’ve been up to is to share some thoughts about how each one of us has fared through the last weeks–from my perspective. So, here goes.

Things I am learning about Ian

  • He really likes “couch time.” This is together time, where we sit down and do our main Sonlight stuff–Bible, World History, Geography and reading novels. He especially likes the Usborne Time Traveler and World History books we go through, which are packed with lots of great illustrations and encyclopedic information.
  • The boy needs structure and consistency. It has been helpful for him to see a list each day on the fridge that tells him what will be expected of him in both school and family life. His fits and whining have dramatically decreased.
  • He has a knack for a lot of things–things that surprised me. He has pretty quickly picked up novice piano reading and playing skills, and I didn’t realize he could spell as well as he does. His ability to communicate in writing has improved, too. I think it’s all the reading he’s doing, and the varied subjects that the Sonlight Readers give him.
  • Despite his bad attitude about going to church, he enjoys reading the Bible with me, listening to me explain meaning behind stories, and engaging in conversation. I think he thinks about these things later, at least I know he remembers them. Maybe this is a better way for him to do it than Awana, which we discontinued after last year.


We’ve been spending many mornings doing couch time in front of a fire. Our woodpile may not last us through the winter.




Portraying desk work worse than it actually is.


Piano practice.


Archeological dig.


Smaller, indoor archeological dig that ended up bearing more fruit than its outdoor counterpart.


Ian’s budding rock and treasure collection.

Things I’m learning about Imogen

  • She’s picking up a lot of what Ian is learning–the things that pique her interest. She likes the Bible memory verse songs and the Geography songs. She likes to move to them as she learns.
  • She LOVES Aesop’s Fables. Honestly, many of them can be perplexing and the lessons can be difficult to explain to children. She loves the animals, the older, unique writing style, and the pictures. So we’re going with it.
  • She is excited about learning and I don’t want to dismiss that because I’m busy doing stuff with Ian. She wants to be read to and to have her own library books to look at. She often says, “When I read I’m going to . . .” She’s memorized a Sandra Boynton book she reads to Beatrice.
  • She loves art. Love, love, loves it. I have a love/hate relationship with her doing it because it’s messy. But she feels so loved and inspired when we engage in art activities. I’m excited for her to enroll in the Art class at the HEE next year. I’m ordering her some drawing books to work on for now.
  • She plays well with Beatrice when I’m teaching Ian things she’s not interested in. I am very thankful for that.
  • She loves swimming, and I’m so glad we got her into lessons. She gets to shine, doing her own thing.
  • She’s still doing ballet, but I’m not sure that will be a long-run activity.
  • Doing Pre-K was a good choice for her. I don’t hear her talk a lot about it, but I also don’t hear her complain about going. I think she feels confident in her class. She gets some one-on-one time with her teacher developing skills as one of the oldest in her class.


We found a great toy store called Toys that Teach. They have a fantastic book collection that clearly Imogen was intrigued by (not to mention I drooled over so many good titles). I’m thinking I may need to create her a quiet corner with a comfy chair.



Things I’m learning about Beatrice

  • She’s definitely moved into that 2.5-3.5 year-old difficult phase. Hitting, calling names, yelling, throwing fits, being sassy. It’s not so bad yet, but as the youngest she is definitely getting away with more.
  • She talks like she’s a ten-year-old sometimes, complete with attitude and hand gestures. We think it’s cute, but I’m not sure we should encourage it all that much.
  • She really likes being at the HEE. She’s found a favorite toy (a pull along puppy) that she drags all over the place. Don’t tell her, but she’s getting one for Christmas.
  • She doesn’t put caps on markers and it drives me CRAZY.
  • She has picked up French words with more enthusiasm and ease than the other two.
  • She has memorized the Middle East geography song we worked on in our first weeks, and can sing the Alphabet. It’s amazing what little ones can learn through song and the influence of their siblings.
  • She can start doing more household chores, I just need to make an effort to include her and hold her accountable.
  • She was a fantastic potty trainer!

Things I’m learning in this process

  • This gig is like a job. No, it is a job. Depending upon how much one invests in it, it can be part-time or full-time. I like it, but I didn’t think about how it would change my schedule and my relationships with others. I am missing some of my friends and fun activities, and need to consider how to fit those things into our lifestyle.
  • I really love learning, particularly when it comes to history and literature. This isn’t a revelation, but a rediscovery. There’s a reason I got a liberal arts degree in English Literature (I also strongly considered History). Ten years after leaving formal education I am seeing it bear fruit in the parenting and education of my kids. I know this is not for everyone, but I am having fun right now. You can ask me later how I feel when higher-level math and science come onto the scene.
  • I can see that this current endeavor could equip me for something else down the line, though I have no idea what. I like sharing what I know and engaging kids in good conversations. I can ask good questions appropriate to their level and then listen for their answers and personal views. I don’t think is just my kids; this has come naturally to me in nannying and other teaching scenarios.
  • I really love reading out loud. The more I do it, the better I get at it, and the more fun it is for all of us. It’s a bit of acting, of finessing words, and of creating the atmosphere I think the author is intending.
  • I can become a slave to the schedule and the checklist. I’m starting to feel that pressure to keep us on track with what is assigned each day and week. It’s wearing on me. Other Sonlight parents in the Facebook group I’m in warned of this. It is certainly not the intent of the Instructor’s Guide to encourage this. It’s just us Type A types.
  • In light of this, I am going to pick up Teaching from Rest, which has been sitting at my nightstand, waiting for me to come around to it. I’m interested to learn more about schole, the intentional slowing down of learning. This will be a challenge for me, but I think it will prove beneficial to my kids in the long run.
  • I can see myself living vicariously through my kids. Biggest example: I want to teach Ian Grammar (probably too early) because I learned very little when I was a kid. I turned out to be a good writer anyway, but I wonder if it hindered my foreign language learning. I am insecure about it. On the other hand, I don’t want to focus too much focus on Grammar in a way that hinders him from writing freely and outside of the box. Yes, these are the things that home school moms stress about and that I used to roll my eyes at.
  • I am tempted to choose the school stuff over the character building and discipline work. It’s just easier, folks. I’m trying to switch priorities.
  • I’m still hesitant to pick up French because I don’t have a set curriculum or lesson plan. I obviously don’t have the immersion option. With Ian going to Botswana in July it is more motivation to move forward, but this will be a real challenge for my personality. I’m hoping to focus on teaching him essential phrases for his travel experience and not venture too far out from that for now.
  • I’m still a homebody. Getting my kids outside for play is another weak point for me. I am glad they have the HEE and preschool two days a week.

Other things I’m excited about

  • Ian’s piano lessons with Miss Jane. I am thoroughly impressed with her skill and her thoughtfulness in considering the interests and needs of her student. Ian respects her tight ship. At the same time, he’s impressed when he requests songs like the Imperial March and Miss Jane practices it to perform for him at their next lesson. Sometimes I wish I could be a fly on the wall when they work together.
  • Usborne books. I’m not a fan of buying anything at full price, but I’ve gotten sucked into these fantastic materials. I’m particularly excited about some of the books I’ve ordered for Imogen that will help her transition into and get started in Kindergarten. (Side note: I have a book lady named Jessie, if you are interested in Usborne, and she did help me get some good deals.) I’ve also gotten a lot of used encyclopedic books from Goodwill I plan to dole out. I will be cracking them open myself in my *mass* of free time.
  • Putting together a centrally located bookshelf of good stuff that the kids will visit regularly (the one in their basement bedroom doesn’t get frequented).
  • How fun the HEE community continues to be, and how helpful and kind the staff is there.
  • Setting goals. I usually hate doing that. It’s like creating a mission statement–you forget it, move on and then feel guilty about how much you clearly didn’t care that much about it in the first place. That being said, the curriculum specialist at the HEE encouraged me to come up with some benchmarks for the school year. That way, I can put possible new endeavors through the checklist and see if they fit into what we are trying to achieve with our kids. This includes not just formal education, but also character traits we want to encourage, and our kids assimilation into being contributing members of our household and society. I really did feel relieved after putting my thoughts on paper, and I look forward to getting Jason’s feedback, so we can hone in on what we’re doing with these kiddos.



Archeological dig in the backyard.


First day in our new workspace. It was clean then, but now it’s a mess of scribbled scrap paper, uncapped markers and really dirty carpet. But, we’re making our way through that shelf of books!


Members of the HEE family (at our new location). These three aren’t official students yet, but they enjoy the space, the people, the regular refills of popcorn, and the lollipops that are given out by the generous Ms. Trudi.


Weekly preschool carpool with this bunch


Preschool pumpkin patch visit



Trick-or-treaters who mean business


Future homeschooler? Yet to be seen.


On a sunny day at the HEE, watching the big kids with their remote-controlled truck.

*For those who are interested in the details of our curriculum and materials, Ian is using Sonlight’s Core B&C World History curriculum, Math Mammoth, and Spelling Power. I can’t seem to commit to more Language Arts materials, but we have been trying out Shurley English and Winning with Writing. I’m thinking about starting Rosetta Stone for French.

Imogen is a part of our Sonlight Bible, History and Reading time when she wants to be, she’s doing a few pages a week of a Scholastic Pre-K workbook I got at Costco, and I’m trying to get her books at the library that interest her. She attends Westgate Preschool two days a week and does ballet.


Imogen at five

Dear Imogen,

At this time last year your inner world was mostly a mystery to me. You are by no means introverted or quiet, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was going on in that little head of yours. Your dad was even perplexed, and he doesn’t obsess about things like this nearly as much as I do.

Well, I’m elated to report that your fifth year was a true emotional and mental unveiling. You grew up in so many very big ways. You were like the peony in our front yard that surprisingly and delightfully popped up and bloomed this last spring in the most natural and delicate way. It was just waiting for it’s time, and so were you.


You brought your fifth year in dressed as Belle at a fantastic birthday party. And the summer that followed was a pretty awesome one. We spent lots of time outside, went to Grandma T’s for a couple weeks, and went camping with our church family. I wish our family fun wasn’t so dependent upon my health, but I was feeling great and it worked to our whole family’s advantage. Just as you are with anything that promises amusement, you were all in.

In the fall you started Pre-K at Westgate Chapel. I can’t stop saying how wonderful of a school it is, and you had a great teacher, Diane. She has given us lots of insight into what you’re like in the classroom and in social settings. She says you are a kinesthetic learner, but regardless of your regular movement, you are absorbing everything like a sponge. You have a great memory, recalling experiences from all areas of life, dating back quite a ways. You talk about these memories through your own unique lens, in a way that shows that your heart is attached to what you’re sharing.

Teacher Diane has also consistently pointed out how tender and loving you are, and it’s so true. You have soaked up the affirmation and encouragement from the staff at Westgate. You can’t give or get enough hugs. It melts my heart when I imagine you sitting right next to Teacher Diane during preschool circle time; she tells me that you sat right by her side, every day of class. There’s probably a spot worn on the floor right next to her chair!

Your faith has grown much this year, too. You have a vast knowledge of Bible stories and you were an enthusiastic participant at Awana yet another year. But you also wanted to pray for Jesus to come into your heart, and several months later you asked if you could take communion with us, too.

It’s been such a privilege to see how your love of Jesus is manifesting itself. Teacher Diane made a point to tell me that one of her favorite parts of the preschool class was hearing your prayers. She said they were so intentional and sweet, in a way that was different from others in your class. You also have a heart for those in need–you pray for ambulances you hear, homeless people on the sidewalks, friends and family who are sick or sad. You have a sweet voice and I know God loves hearing it.

When we talk about God’s family and how Jesus loves His children, you often smile with a hint of pride, knowing that means you. I think, at least right now, one of the most valuable things I can impress upon you is that God loves you, and He hears you and sees you. I can see that being left alone is a fear of yours. Even though I can’t always answer the questions of why God doesn’t heal someone or why he didn’t make your scary thoughts go away at bedtime, I can emphatically say that you will never be left alone. That you will always be loved and cherished.

You enjoy all the relationships in your life, and you really do want everyone to get along. I appreciate that about you, but it also pains me because I know from experience that it’s just not going to happen (in this life). That is a hard thing for someone who is so relational and so much wants love and peace between people.

It’s also hard to hear you insist you wear a pretty dress to preschool so so-and-so will want to play with you in class. Or to hear Ian and the neighbor girl engaging in play that leaves you out. You want people, why don’t they want you?!

What I can say to you (when you’re a bit older and read this) is this: You will probably struggle with this for a long time. I wish I could say it gets easier, but it will get harder first (i.e. adolescence). I am praying that through every season of life God puts people around you that invite you into the best of circles, those that have Jesus’ arms wrapped around them. And that you can bring people who are sad or lost into these circles, too, with your gentle ways. I can already see your desire to do that.

Before this last year I would’ve said that you were on the shyer side, especially when it came to large audiences. But now I realize you just hadn’t yet had the opportunity to perform. You completed a year of ballet and your performance this last spring in front of hundreds was a smashing success. You had no jitters, just total confidence and enjoyment. In fact, you led most of the other kids in the choreography AND you re-performed the dance in front of your preschool class a few days later! As someone who loves an audience as well, I say keep going for it, girl.

Ian does try to outshine you, so beware. He pretty much tries to outshine everyone. I hope at this point you realize that and aren’t taking it personally. I often have to tell him to shut his pie hole because I want to hear what you have to say. Teacher Diane was right when she encouraged me to make sure you have a voice in a household of strong opinions.

Partly because of this, we decided to have you do another year of Pre-K at Westgate. I love the idea of you being one of the oldest in your class, leading other kids gently and with confidence. But also, this means that as you get older you and Ian will be another year apart in school and that may be for the best.

Another perk to this is that you and Beatrice will be a year closer in grades. Up until a few months ago you and her didn’t play that much together. In fact, if I found Bea with anybody it was Ian. But as she has grown into a full-fledged toddler you have taken her under your wing–with her permission, of course, since she doesn’t let anyone do anything without that.

Your games usually include you being the mom and calling her “sweetie.” She is either the baby or the puppy dog. You make her little beds around the house and she crawls in, settles in, and sticks her thumb in her mouth. Meanwhile, Ian broods in his room, building Lego bases in solitude. This be a hint of the future Haggard sibling dynamic.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not all peacefulness in this house. Bebo bowls over you at times, and Ian has been doing that since day one.  He’s forceful and bossy, and you whine. Dad and I feel a tension between telling him to back off and telling you that you agreed to play with a boy who is sometimes harder to stop than a freight train.

Nevertheless, some of the absolute best sibling moments this year have happened between you and Ian–at bedtime. We turn off the lights, leave the door cracked, and warn you to settle down. Then you two proceed to get all riled up, singing goofy songs, doing impersonations, telling stories. I think Ian instigates, but you are the comic. You are on stage, and Ian is in for uncontrollable laughter. I half-heartetedly yell down my authority, but usually let it slide because you two love each other so much in these moments.

You are still a barnacle, and proud of it. It’s almost monkey-like; you crawl into laps, play with hair, breath in people’s smells. You love snuggling with Dad in bed on Saturday mornings. Oftentimes you have to fight for your space when Bebo comes in like a bulldozer. You are calculated in battle–you don’t shove her off, you just wait until she gets distracted and then sneak back in. Or you gently slide her over when she isn’t paying attention. And then you hold me extra tight, making eye contact with her so she knows what she’s missing.

There have been times I have wondered if you and I lack some particular connection we would’ve had if I hadn’t struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety after you were born. This was compounded by the fact that you and I are different in so many ways, and that in your earlier years I couldn’t quite figure out your internal world.

I feel happy thinking back (and writing about) all the things I’ve learned about you. I feel confident we will grow closer, and you will teach me many things.

Please stay sweet and sensitive. I get it–you’ll have your days of defiance and of sneakiness (your particular sin of choice right now). You are human. But the world needs more of your empathy. Hold onto that, as you know God firmly holds on to you. Also, hold on to others. Vulnerability is a rare, rare jewel, one that God is very pleased with.

I love you, Imogen (innocent) Annabelle (beautiful) Haggard.


Here are photos of Imogen’s fifth year, in chronological order.
















































Imogen’s fourth year

Dear Imogen,

This morning I woke up and heard feet padding into my room.  I knew they were yours, because they sound so much different than your brothers. “Happy Birthday,” I said, in a soft, sweet voice. The look on your face made me think you’d forgotten entirely that today was your big day. But no, you said you remembered. And then of course you crawled into bed and we snuggled for at least a half hour.  Ian and Beatrice just kept on sleeping, which I think God planned as a gift for both of us.

Immy, you are the best snuggler in the entire world.  Yes, your sister is gaining on your territory, but you don’t really see that yet, and plus you’ve got four years of crawling into laps and twirling my hair already piled up in our memories.  On weekend mornings when your dad and I are still in bed, you know to go straight to his side of the bed curl up under the covers next to him.  Being a snuggler himself, your dad is in heaven.  He knows even now to soak it up because it will eventually end, as you get older and more grown up.

Your dad and I went on a bike ride last weekend and we spent most of the time talking about you.  Who are you?  How can we love you?  How can we shepherd you?  Are we doing that? Are you getting lost in your brother’s shadow? What will the next years be like, when you hit grade school and then adolescence? Will you, God forbid, be snuggling with someone else?  We want God to help us see you–that was the grand conclusion to our conversation.

But, to be inconsistent, let’s talk about your brother for a moment.  No one can forget him.  You two have an interesting and sometimes intense dynamic.  Well, let’s just say his end of the dynamic is intense, yours is free-flowing, unruffled, and flexible–for the most part.  As the years pass, these attributes of yours will drive Ian INSANE. I almost don’t want to say it, but I will–revel in it!  It’s good for him.  Just don’t get too proud.  We all have our own struggles, and this could easily be one of yours.

It’s not all bad with Ian.  You have a special way of lightening him up with your silliness.  You lighten us all up.  I know I’ve said it before, but you’re just so goofy.  That hasn’t changed in the last year. You still get the potty talk going at the dinner table, which we try to promptly shut down. You let your brother chase you around the circle that is the fireplace and laugh and laugh. Sometimes, though, all the sudden, you get a determination about the chase and actually want to win.  And you pass him.  You’re gettin’ fast girl.  And Ian’s mad!

Speaking of speed, you are riding your bike amazingly.  You spent a lot of time on the skut this last year, cruising along.  Now, I send you off with your brother down the street, knowing you can fully ride your big girl bike on your own. You are very good about watching for cars.  Ian always has your back, too. And I do love that you still need me for at least one thing–clipping your helmet on before you run out the door. You don’t even want me to pull the hair out of your eyes when I do it.

Besides bike skills, you are a great dancer.  You never turn down an opportunity to cut the rug with Ian when he turns Pandora on in the living room.   In fact, when we’re at church on Sundays you’ve gotten in the habit of sneaking out of the pew and dancing in the aisle.  And we sit in the front, so everyone can see you.  We have shooed you back next to us, keeping you confined between Dad and me.  I was concerned you would be a distraction to others who are trying to worship. But recently I’ve been thinking that maybe we should just leave you be.  Maybe you’re a picture that people need to see on Sundays.  You’ll break all us frozen chosen out of our frigidness!  My heart is happy thinking about that.

Joy, Imogen.  You are a joy.

You are also a wonderful helper.  You daily remind me that what I’m doing is not about a checklist, but about learning and being together. You are like your dad in this way.  I am learning from you, but I must admit, I struggle because my agenda is so stupidly important to me.  Still, you know nothing about that, so you pull the step stool up, ready to bake bread or stir the oatmeal.  Whenever Grandma T is scheduled to stay and I clean the bathroom in preparation, you are right in there persistent with a “Can I help, Mommy?” Yes, Imogen.  You can spray the entire bottle of cleaner onto the mirror.  This is learning life.  And you’re getting the mirror VERY clean.

You can also be a bit of a drama queen, to be honest.  You strike a pose like a true supermodel.  How do little girls already know how to do that?  Do they come out of the womb with that skill? You like to overdramatize many minor slips and stumbles (you’re also a bit clumsy).  You care quite a bit about whether we are sympathetic to your plight. One time I was clearly not paying attention to you and you practically grabbed my face and said “MOMMY, DO YOU EVEN CARE THAT I’M HURT?!?” What an injustice! But, we do our best to give you kisses and rub the pain away, without aiding and abetting what’s inconsistent with reality.

Over the last year, we’ve discovered that you have quite a love for animals and are really very good with them.  We call you the animal whisperer.  Sometimes you wander off in the house somewhere and if I haven’t heard from you in a while I know you have crawled up on our bed and are laying next to Lizzie. You gently pet her and she lays there, mostly comfortable with your presence.  She will walk up to you and rub her body against your legs, which makes you smile.  Imogen, you may have even entered into Lizzie’s circle of trust which is VERY small.  Consider this a lifetime achievement.

You’ve also come to love our neighbor dog, Sunny.  Sunny’s owner, an elderly gentleman named Herb, religiously walks his very energetic dog at least twice a day, right past our house.  When we first met Sunny she would jump and get excitable whenever any of us would approach her.  Now, whenever Sunny sees you she sits down and holds perfectly still and uses all her might to calm herself. She won’t act that way for anyone else. She has learned that you have such a gentle way with her and that you give the best pets!  You almost always run out to meet her if you see her through the window.

You still have a magic act that has carried over since you were practically walking.  It’s called disappearing, and you’re still very good at it. At school, the playground, Costco.  We look away and poof, you’re gone.  At least you’re able to recognize Costco employees by their name tags and will happily approach one to tell them you can’t find your mom.  You aren’t scared, you just figure it’s about time to show back up again. This is why I regularly try to have that talk with you where I crouch down in your face and say as seriously as I can, “Imogen, if someone approaches you with candy or tells you they have puppies they want to show you, DO NOT go with them.  RUN TO MOMMY!” You nod and say yes, Mama. But I still worry.  You’re easygoing and personable and innocent. You’re brother, on the other hand, would give any stranger the stink eye and yell at them to stop talking to him.  You are both so very different.

So I pray for you, that you would stay soft and welcoming, but also be protected.

I suppose I should say that you aren’t entirely innocent. In fact, over the last year we’ve had many conversations about the difference between truth and lies.  Could it even be that the other day you looked me straight in the face (in tears, in fact) and lied to me?  And it was so convincing that I believed you.  I’m trying to tell myself, even still, that you didn’t remember things correctly or you were confused.

Nope, you are deviant, Immy, in your own way.  May the Lord help us help you.  Us Haggards may be a lot of things, and we may even deceive ourselves at times, but we want to walk in the light and tell the truth. Your dad and I fumble through trying to explain to you how important this is.  That the Truth sets us free, and that lies bind us.  This is hard for a four-year-old to understand, I know.  Lying seems like a good way to avoid or defer consequences.  I am with you, it’s very tempting!

You need Jesus, Imogen. You need Him when you feel goofy or your dancing the aisles of church.  You’ll definitely need Him when your brother gets in your face and tries to control you. Then there will be times when Beatrice will steal snuggles away from you, or as a teenager some boy will want snuggles from you– you’ll need Jesus then, too.. He will be arms around you, He will remind you of your innocence and yet also teach you wisdom and shrewdness.  He is your Truth, Imogen.  There is no one, nothing else, that is as true and real as God.

May the Lord captivate you and show you how truly captivating you are. May He be the sweetness and the hugs and the deep-down knowing that you are loved to the utmost depths. May He be the Person you find when you run off, and not just in some store, but down some sad or scary or rebellious path (which you will, because we all do, in our own ways).

Whatever happens in your life, Jesus is writing a good story for you, Imogen. And we are enjoying being a part of it! May He bless you and keep you, my beautiful doe-eyed girl.  May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you, and give you peace.

You love it when I give you that blessing at bedtime, I hope you still love it when you’re old enough to read this.

Love, Mommy

Here’s Imogen’s fourth year in pictures, in chronological order.

Imogen turns three

I can’t believe it’s been three years.

So much has happened with our family in the span of Imogen’s life. In some ways, she will always feel like my baby because my recovery after her birth was so much longer and her sister came as a surprise.  I’m not sure if that makes any sense, but that’s how I feel.

But, I don’t want to talk about all that right now.  I want to tell you about our wonderful joy, Imogen Annabelle.

This year she

  • moved into a new house and from a toddler bed to a big girl bed (the bottom of the bunk bed)
  • welcomed Miss Sarah as her caregiver and developed a sweet relationship with her.  And now in the past month she welcomed Miss Laurel.
  • transitioned so smoothly from diapers to big girl undies last summer
  • continued her love of water.  This usually results in nakedness because heaven forbid she wear clothes she’s gotten sopping wet while playing in the sink, with the hose, in a mud puddle, etc.
  • developed a love of dressing up – she is constantly wearing a Cinderella or Minnie Mouse dress and she loves picking out her outfit for church every Saturday night.  In fact, she just generally loves clothes.  She “ooohs” and “ahhhs” every time a package comes in the mail from a grandparent with pretty clothes in it for her.
  • became the disappearing child.  I don’t know how many times I would turn around for a second and she’d be gone.  This happened a lot at Ian’s preschool.  I developed my own reputation – the lady who can’t keep hold of her kid!  To her credit, she’s become much more obedient in this area in the last few months.
  • welcomed a new sibling.  This was much easier for her than it was for Ian, probably because she was already second in the pecking order.
  • is Daddy’s girl.  She’s got some competition now, but her and Jason really do have such a sweet relationship.
  • grew her hair out long. I think it’s really beautiful, especially the one big curl that frames her face. Of course it still gets crazy sometimes.
  • is cruising around on her skut bike like she’s going to be riding a two wheeler in no time!
  • solidified her reputation as the goofy one in the family.  She instigates the potty talk at the dinner table, makes funny noises and faces, and usually is the one to start any kind of silliness.  And once it catches on with her brother it’s like a freight train that’s unfortunately unstoppable.
  • developed her tactile obsession with hair.  I sit down on the couch and within minutes she’s sitting right next to me, running her hands through my hair.  She would do the same thing with Miss Sarah.  When she goes to bed at night she grabs a clump of her own hair and runs it through her fingers as she falls asleep.
  • affirmed to us that she’s definitely a snuggler, which her daddy loves.  If there’s an open lap, she’s in it.  Sometimes in the morning if she’s the first one up she crawls into bed next to Jason, which he never turns down!
  • became more photogenic.  Yes, she had an unfortunate phase where it was hard to get a good picture of her.  Now she smiles and poses and generally likes getting her picture taken.

Speaking of pictures, here’s some of the best photos of her third year, in chronological order.

Second birthday.

Fun at Grandma’s last summer.

Big girl bed.

Here’s some proof of that goofiness I was talking about.

Halloween with Bo Bo.

Beautiful in one of her holiday dresses.

Becoming a big sister.

More fun with Ian.  They really do love playing together.

Egg hunting.  She wasn’t interested so much in finding the eggs as in plopping down and eating as much candy as she could before someone stopped her.

Had to throw one in of the trio.

Happy Birthday, Immy!  You are a pleasure to us and we love you so, so much.

Enough about me, here’s my cute kids

You all tell me on a regular basis how stinkin’ cute my kids are, and I agree.  So here’s a bit of a photo recap of the last few months.

At the zoo on Ian’s birthday back in December.

Our first family gingerbread house.  It was very easy and fun.  And, as you can tell it’s a traditional German Hexen Haus (going back to our roots).  Also, my youngest has crazy, wild hair all the time.  Which leads us to the next picture . . .

Imogen’s first haircut.  Here hair’s still pretty wild, though.

My children aren’t all that into actually brushing their teeth, they just play with their toothbrushes, which I find lying in random places around the house (the brushes, not the children).

Just even more proof of which of my children is photogenic and which isn’t.

I’m thankful both of my children are in a snuggling phase.

We got out the antique kitchen again (I watch it like a hawk and if Ian is in any way rough with it goes into the basement cave).  And of course there’s the girl with the wild hair again.

Typical Ian dance/ninja/Spiderman move.  The facial expression can also, at times, express his “I’m being a pill” mood, although that is not what was happening in this artistic moment.

Imogen’s moves.  The bed is her typical dance floor.

Totally unscripted, but so sweet.

Many of you have seen this one on facebook, but it’s worth sharing again – Ian’s first day of preschool.

And because of preschool, Ian’s getting way more into arts and crafts.  Here’s one of his creations.  I also think it’s kinda cute and fitting that the t-shirt he was wearing at the time says “Explore.”

Dress up time.  I promise she was smiling two seconds before this picture was taken.

That’s all, folks.  I will try to keep up on our flickr photostream.

Imogen’s 1st birthday party

Yes, I’m now getting around to posting about it . . . and what a shindig it was!  It has been a long time since I’ve put so much effort into a party.  I think the last time was probably when I was single.

But, as you know, Pinterest was getting to me and I needed to redeem at least a few of those wasted hours I spent learning how to do things like turn a dresser into a dollhouse or restore the inside of my oven to its original state (things which I am highly unlikely to ever do in real life).

But, in real life I did throw a beautiful party, and the inspiration that Pinterest exudes was one of the motivating factors.  That bundled with my friend Blythe’s amazing hospitality at my own birthday party and an increasing amount of physical energy (yay!).

For the sake of brevity, here are details from the party.

1. It would not have been possible without my in-laws.  They were visiting the week before and they did lots of prep work and cleaning, which was incredibly helpful. (Sorry, no picture of these wonderful people who I am thankful to call family.)

3. Aside from the food, everything I used for decorations I already had or was able to borrow from generous people (except a spool of ribbon that I think cost me maybe a buck).  The flowers came from a friend and a neighbor’s yard.  I love when God provides in these little sort of things.

2. Jason did the dessert, of course.  Again, he happily accepted my challenge – a strawberry ice cream cake.  He insisted on making the ice cream himself.

We did learn that we should’ve chilled the cake a lot longer.  We are newbies to the world of ice cream cake.  When we cut into it the ice cream was still soft and so it all sort of fell apart.  But it was still delicious!

4. Speaking of food, we kept it simple.  There was no way I could’ve pulled off all those decorations AND a whole bunch of amazing food.  Plus, we were trying to keep it cost-effective.  We had veggies and onion dip, rosemary popcorn, a cheese and fresh bread spread, and a bit of fruit.

I made a basil citrus cooler to drink (from a recent issue of Every Day Food – and honestly, it wasn’t very good, though it looked pretty).

5. And of course, the birthday girl!  She’s so cute.  Of course, she didn’t care at all about the party.  But, she was nice enough to keep her tiara on for a few seconds to take a picture.

Here’s her picking at her first slice of cake.  Turns out she doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth; I don’t think the chef was too offended.

Here she is hangin’ out and havin’ fun.

And opening presents.

We had great fun.  Thanks to our small group of friends who came and celebrated Imogen with us.

And I just want to point out again that I won’t be doing this again for a while.  It wore me out – even with all the amazing help!  I say this particularly so that all those other tired moms out there who can barely keep clean socks in the drawer or the toilet bowl clean (believe me, I FEEL you) won’t think this is typical of this non-supermom.

Soon I’ll write an update on how our sweet birthday girl is growing up and becoming more cute and amazing as she enters into her second year of life.

Imogen at three months

Last Sunday was Imogen’s three-month birthday.  I have really enjoyed being mom to this darling little girl.

For the sake of actually getting this blog finished, here’s some bulleted facts about her:

  • She’s had many visitors, including all her grandparents in the first month of her life.  That was thousands of airline miles folks–just because she’s so cute and special.
  • She loves talking with people.  I’m wondering if it’s a girl thing.  In those moments when I can sit down and give her my full attention or when I’m changing her diaper, I’ll talk to her and she’ll coo back a response.  We’ll go back and forth like that until I must move on to helping her brother or keeping the house from crumbling down.
  • She’s starting to develop some people preference.  When we visited Grandma’s and I would go out for a bike ride or to run an errand I would come home and she’d be inconsolable.  Sometimes it would happen if I was only leaving the room.  Once I fed her she would calm down.  So maybe she just has a boob preference.
  • She’s sleeping pretty well–anywhere from a four to eight-hour chunk a night, and then in two to three-hour chunks following.  Oh how I wish I could sleep with her until 9am, which is her final morning wakeup time.  But alas, Ian gets on with his day sooner (there are trains and cars to play with people!)
  • She’s a great nurser, which I am very thankful for.  But, I think for that reason she’s forgotten how to take a bottle or pacifier.  But we’re getting there.
  • She goes with the flow.  I don’t know if this is her personality or being the second child or both.  Sometimes I forget about her, but she’s usually sitting quietly just taking in all the action.
  • She looks like Jason.  She’s got brown eyes and his darker skin tone. At the same time, I think she has a very feminine look about her.
  • She’s growing more and more comfortable sleeping in her crib for naps and doesn’t do so well napping when we are out and about. I am learning to be more cognizant of this and not keeping our schedule as busy as it has been.
  • We’ve had some interesting health scares (I know using the word “scare” is an exaggeration, but they’ve felt like scares to me).  First we recognized that one of her eyes dilates larger than the other. Turns out this is odd, but not something to be concerned about. Second, she had some really weird poops and pees that I still don’t know what to do with.  Third, her head has become rather misshapen.  She’s started cranial sacral therapy and the doctor things it won’t take long for it to round out.
  • She is doing really well with her brother.  She even gives him smiles as he lovingly clobbers her and gives her kisses.
Imogen’s firsts so far have been:
  • Camping trip.  She did amazingly well, observing or sleeping through much of the noise and activity.  With this trip, she visited the ocean (well, the Sound) for the first time.
  • Long car ride and trip to Grandma’s. I think we only had one crying spell in the combined 12 hours of travel time (not including Ian). And she tolerated the times we three had to cram into a bathroom stall so Ian and I could go potty.
  • First dip in the lake.  It was just her feet, but she did NOT like it.  Just to make sure, Jason dipped her feet in again (which I thought was a little mean on his part!)
  • First summer.  Obviously, with all that lake and ocean exposure!  But really, we have had some summer around here lately and she’s been able to enjoy it.
  • First ride on a park swing.
  • I’m sure there are more firsts, but I can’t remember them because I’m tired.
What I’m learning by being Imogen’s mom:
  • That I’m not as uptight about things as I was when Ian was this age. Improvement!
  • That I need to stop what I’m doing and give Imogen snuggles and listen to her chats because I won’t get this time back.
  • That she will turn out great even if I forget about her sometimes because I know a lot of people who are second children and they are way more than okay.  
  • That I want to make an effort to pass certain things down to Imogen–things like jewelry, recipes, and fashion sense (what little I have left).  I know there are much bigger and non-materialistic things I can give her, and I certainly hope to, but these are what I’ve been thinking about lately.
  • To take my worries about her health to God.  This seems to be a running theme, ever since the first trimester of the pregnancy.  I’m getting better at it, at least I think.  I’ve learned not to Google weird symptoms right after I notice them OR if I’m really, really tired.  So instead I call Jason just so I can tell someone and then I pray. On a related note, I am more and more thankful for all the health care we have received. I’m also grateful for the many nurses and doctors I know who are smart, loving, and have listened to my concerns.
And now, of course, pictures of a growing Imogen, because they are worth more than any of my words.

1st month

2nd month

3rd month

Second birth story

I hope it hasn’t been too long since Imogen’s birth for me to share the story.  I’ve actually had the majority of it written for over a month, I just haven’t had the time to wrap it up with a thoughtful conclusion.  So, here goes.


On Friday, June 10th, we were one week out from our due date.  My plan was to clean the house that day, as I usually do on Fridays.  Planning on having a home birth made it feel a bit more urgent than usual.   So, I set out to get the floors and the bathroom clean, if that was the only two things I accomplished that day.

Ian is usually great about occupying himself on chores day.  But on this particular Friday he was constantly wanting my attention and letting me know so in some not-so-positive ways.  That coupled with some major potty training regression made me feel increasingly discouraged as the day went on.

Unfortunately, Ian met with my irritability and frustration. I had no idea what to do about potty training, which we’ve been working on for months.  By the time the morning passed and it was a nap time, I was so worked up I couldn’t sleep (something I really needed).

All these things being said, by 2pm I had called Jason in tears asking him to come home.

I will say, though, that there were some really sweet moments between Ian & I, amidst the tension and turmoil. Because he wanted my attention so much I spent more time with him than I normally would on cleaning day.  I sensed we both needed that time.  We had fun making up a rescue helicopter game, reading books, and just talking.

Looking back, I see these moments were God’s grace to both of us.  The days of just me and him were quickly coming to an end (though I didn’t realize how quickly!).

Jason wasn’t able to get off work early.  When he did get home we put Ian to bed and then I ran to the store and picked up some food (this was the kind of day when I did not feel guilty for splurging on pre-prepared food from Trader Joe’s).

After dinner Jason & I talked about the potty training situation.  And I got all worked up again.  I felt angry because I felt out of control and Jason, understandably, didn’t know how to solve the problem.

You can imagine this didn’t make for an evening of marital bliss and connectedness.  The subject of potty training usually doesn’t evoke these sort of feelings between two people, especially if one of them is an angry, pregnant lady.

Sadly, of my own doing, I ended up on the bathroom rug bawling my eyes out, with Jason wondering what the heck was going on with me.

In the middle of all the tears, even I could see that my response was a bit over the top.  This feels hormonal, I thought.  Once the tears passed I remembered I felt similar on the day I went into labor with Ian–super emotional. And I wondered if I would go into labor that night.  Turns out the hormones that make a woman feel crazy are also the hormones that make babies come out.

By 10pm I felt relatively at peace about life.  Jason and I went to bed. At 12am I woke up and had to pee really bad.  When I sat down and started going I felt a pop and a gush.

Whoa, I thought.   Is this really happening? That definitely felt like my water breaking!

I went in and woke Jason up to tell him.  He sat right up in bed, even though he had been in a sound sleep and said “Really? That’s so great!”  That made me feel good, especially since it was a bit overwhelming to think this was happening now and not in a week or two.

I called Cindie, our midwife, to tell her what happened.  She said it certainly could’ve been my water breaking, but that it also may be a false alarm.  Sometimes the bladder of a pregnant lady can fool her.  (Yet the pop I felt did not feel like anything my bladder has ever done before.)

Cindie instructed us to wait it out and call her if I started labor and my contractions were five to six minutes apart.  I also called Eliza, our doula, to tell her the news, and that we may need her that night.

Jason encouraged me to go back to sleep, but I wanted to get up and show him where all the birth supplies were since we hadn’t done that. Jason also cleaned the bathroom since I hadn’t gotten around to it earlier that day.

It wasn’t long before I felt some very faint cramping, which is exactly what I had felt with Ian.  By 1am I was definitely having contractions.  We decided that Jason would take Ian over to Scott & Courtney’s.  I wanted to make sure he was safe and comfortable elsewhere in case labor got going quickly.

Once Ian and Jason were gone, I dealt with contractions by myself for the next hour or so. I remember standing around the bathroom, still feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I had Isaiah 12 stuck to the bathroom mirror and so I read and prayed through that for a few minutes.  I reminded myself I didn’t need to be afraid of what lay ahead.

By the time Jason arrived home my contractions were about seven to eight minutes apart. I felt pretty good.  Jason came up to the bathroom with a really encouraging surprise–a handful of GUs.  These helped me get through transition and pushing with Ian.  I had been asking Jason to buy some in anticipation of the coming labor, but he hadn’t gotten a chance to.

When Jason was at Scott & Courtney’s he had asked Scott if he would go pick up some GUs in the morning if I was still laboring.  Turns out Scott had just bought a bunch that day at REI and he sent Jason home with them.  This little provision from Jason, from our friend, from God, made me feel relieved and more prepared.

It wasn’t long after Jason and the GUs arrived that my contractions jumped to three to four minutes apart. I was still able to manage them on my own, but Jason called Cindie and Eliza to head over.

Eliza got to our house first and went to work helping me get through contractions.  It took me a while to find a comfortable position to labor in.  I mainly stood leaning over the dresser and swaying back and forth, but found my legs would get tired. I tried leaning over the exercise ball and hanging over the couch, but couldn’t find a position that felt just right.

I think part of this was because the labor pain was centered around my tail bone, not farther up my back as it was with Ian.  Standing up and leaning seemed to relieve it some.  I will say it wasn’t really more painful than my previous labor and so at the time I didn’t consider it back labor, which I’ve been told can be excruciating.

Cindie arrived and she came with her precepting student, Louise.  Louise had been a part of my last two appointments but I didn’t realize she was going to be at the birth.  Cindie also told me that Jen or Mel (the other midwives in her practice) were not going to be there to assist her.  She had called another midwife named Erin to come help.

As I labored I remember telling Eliza that I felt a little self-conscious with two new people around.  I was wondering if I would be able to let loose when I needed to, which is really essential to working through contractions.  She listened to me, and I think just being able to voice how I was feeling was enough for me. I don’t remember worrying about it much after that.

At one point I ended up down in the kitchen with Eliza while everyone else was upstairs.  I was leaning on the kitchen counter.  As things got more intense Eliza was rubbing my lower back. I asked for Jason and he came up right next to me.

Eliza asked if she could pray for me and went ahead.  Then I asked Jason to pray for me, too.  I don’t remember what he said, but afterward I said to him, “I always think I can’t do things and you tell me I can.”  I don’t remember how he responded, but it made me feel like I could do it.

A few minutes later Cindie came around for a particularly difficult contraction and once it was over I said to her “I hope this is the transition!”  She said she thought it probably was.  She suggested I head back upstairs.

On our way up I had a contraction in the middle of the stairway, so I got down on my hands and knees.  I found it to actually be quite comfortable.  As the pain faded away I said to Eliza, “Now every time I walk up these stairs and get to this spot I will think of this.”  She laughed.

Next I made my way into the bathroom and rested over the covered toilet for a while, which allowed me to sway back and forth, but at least rest my lower legs for a bit.

Around 5am Cindie asked to check me.  It was encouraging to hear her say I was at 9cm.  That definitely was the transition I had been feeling!  Cindie suggested I head to the bed since she thought I would be pushing soon.

That word–pushing–was a bit of a bit of a loaded word for me with this pregnancy.  I pushed for almost four hours with Ian and it was the most physically strenuous thing I’ve ever done.  Needless to say, I had been feeling hesitant about how it was going to go this time.

I wanted to make sure I expressed this to Cindie before labor, partly to get it off my chest and partly to see if she could offer some insight or encouragement.

At my last appointment before labor, just a day earlier, I had told her and Louise that I just didn’t feel very strong for the job.  They both reminded me that my uterus would do the work.  Cindie said she wasn’t worried, that I would do just fine. She has a way of saying things very confidently and definitively (plus, she knows what she’s talking about) so I left her office feeling better.

So now there I was, early that morning, heading to bed to “let my uterus do the work” (which, technically speaking, it was already doing a lot of work, but you know what I mean).  I am thankful that in labor you don’t have a lot of mental space to think about anything, so I didn’t feel any hesitancy.  That is God’s grace for an over-thinker like me.

I laid on my side in bed for a few minutes and then felt my uterus bearing down. This is what Cindie and Louise were talking about!  I felt the urge to push with Ian but this was more distinct and powerful than I had felt with him.

Jason was kneeling right next to me on the side of the bed, just as he was when I pushed with Ian.  I had my arms wrapped around him.  The more the contractions came, the more I went with them and pushed.  I was squeezing Jason really hard. At one point I beat on his back with my fist.  His face was right by mine and he kept encouraging me, telling me I could do it.

As the pushing grew more intense, I remember thinking “this is going to produce something good.” I could actually feel the baby moving down (again, not something I remember feeling with Ian).

But, it was also a helluva lotta work. As some time passed I started to wonder if I could do it. If this went on and on, I didn’t know if I could keep going with it (but really, what was I thinking?! This was nothing compared to four hours of pushing).

As the thoughts crowded in, something that Cindie said to me about a month ago came to mind.  She was praying for me at the end of one of my appointments and she prayed “Blessings from God can also be tests.”

At the time I had expressed to her how I was realizing that with a new baby coming I would have to let go of Ian more and more.  I was scared and I wasn’t sure God was going to take care of Him.  I knew I wouldn’t be by Ian’s side like I have been his whole life.

Back then Cindie reminded me that the wonderful, good things God gives us can also be used to help us grow in our trust of Him.  My family has certainly been this to me.  Likewise, as I pushed during labor, with every contraction, I felt tested, in a good way.

Yet I was also was being carried along with it, just as Cindie and Louise had said it would be.  There was a big part of it that was out of my control–my body was just doing it.

It’s funny how the hard things in life feel so much like work, and yet, we can also feel (either at the time or looking back) that God was doing the really hard stuff and we were being carried along.

At one point I remember saying “I can’t do this.”  And all the women in the room just got louder and said “Oh yes you can, you are doing it!”  And then a few minutes later, as a pushing urge came I said “I can do this!”  It felt good to hear myself say it.

As Ian approached his birth, he crowned for what seemed like forever.  I was thinking back on that and so in between my contractions I tried to feel the baby’s head.  I figured if I could feel it, she would be coming out soon.   It must be there, I thought. But I couldn’t feel anything.

I was confused.  Everyone in the room kept telling me I was making huge progress.  The impression I got from them was that this baby would be out into the world soon.

At that point Jason said, “I love you, Beautiful, but I’ve got to go.  I’m going to throw up.”  He ran out of the room and Cindie slid in where he was.  She let me hold on her to and as that contraction passed she said “You could have this baby in five minutes.”  I wasn’t really sure myself.

But, Cindie was right. Jason came back (sticking his head out the window had been enough to make the nausea pass) and just a few minutes later and I gave a good hard push, which brought the baby’s head out.  And then another push and her body was out. The time was 5:40am.

And then that moment came that I will never forget.  They set her down on me and I saw her for the first time.  She was petite and pink, with dark eyes.  She looked so different than Ian did fresh out of the womb.  He was a blue-ish gray, with the face of a wrinkled old man.  He was so quiet, this little girl was crying.

I was given a shot of pitocin right away and thankful no hemorrhaging occurred. It wasn’t long before they cut the cord and the placenta came out.

A few minutes later Jason said “Well, do you want to share what her name is?” Strangely, I said no.  I think I wanted to keep the secret a little bit longer. I loved having that just between us.  We had known what her name would be since the day we found out we were having a girl and Jason had said “Well, should we name her Imogen?”

And now you all know, of course.  But Jason had to ask me again a few minutes later if we could share, and I said yes.

When I was finally ready to get into the bath, Louise stayed with me and we chatted. I could hear Jason gabbing away to someone downstairs.  Turns out he was skyping with Jordan & Elysia.  At the time I felt a little annoyed because I wanted to share these special moments with him, but now I look back and realize he was just so excited and proud and wanted to share the joy with good friends, with the world.

Once I got cleaned up and back into bed it was time to try breastfeeding and to eat.  The labor support team cleaned up around us, did the newborn exam, and left us tucked into bed.

And then I found myself back at that same place again that I had been two and a half years ago.  The house was quiet, I was wide awake, and I had a new baby and a husband lying next to me.  I had just accomplished this amazing feat, while at the same time, experienced a miracle.

I actually had many of those moments in the weeks following Imogen’s arrival.  I would be laying in bed, trying to sleep, and would think back on how awesome (and I am using that word how it was originally intended to be used) it was bring Imogen into the world.

She was the one we thought we were going to lose.  She was the gummy bear on the screen that had a heartbeat.  She was the one who survived with me through the crummy flu and stomach flu.  She was the one who kicked me in the middle of the night and made it hard for Ian to sit on my lap.

I have been very, very blessed by God.  Honestly, it’s a little scary to say that.  But it’s true.  Imogen’s birth was a great experience.  And Imogen, herself, is perfect. She’s our Imy, Imsy Bimsy, our Gooby Girl.

I’ve also been blessed to have great care during both my pregnancies by women who love women, families, and God.  I know that is unfortunately not the norm for many, so I am thankful for that.

I’m also blessed to have a husband who has been there for me; not just through the labor and birth (though he was wonderful then) but also through our miscarriages, the scary bleeding, and the woes of a tiresome, sick pregnancy.  He is a great dad to our kids and I’m glad I get to parent with him.  I love seeing him get up close to Imogen’s face and sweetly say “Hey girl.”

Thank you, also, to our family and community who have prayed for us through this and many other things.

If you enjoy reading about labor and birth and you’re a story person like me, you may like reading the birth stories in this book.  Also, with this pregnancy I really appreciated what two other ladies, Brenna and Sarah, have to say about it.

And of course I’ll leave you with the fruits of my labor (literally).

Imogen Annabelle Haggard

Jason, Elisabeth & Ian are happy to welcome into the world Imogen Annabelle Haggard.

She was born June 11, 2011, at 5:40am.  She weighed in at 7 lbs 2 oz and is 19.5 inches long.

Imogen is an English name and is pronounced Im-a-jen.  It means “maiden” or “innocent”.  Annabelle is German and means “beautiful” or “favored by God.”

Everyone so far who has heard the name Imogen (except Elysia, my fellow English Lit major) has said, “So how do you spell that?”  We imagine, for this reason, Imogen will grow up to be quite precocious and particular about how her name is spelled and pronounced.  We like that.

Labor and birth went smoothly.  Quicker than with Ian, but more of the story to follow later.

Please pray that rest and breastfeeding go just as smoothly!

A miniature dream

I love dollhouses.  When I was a kid I had quite a few of them.  I believe my first one was a Fisher Price or Playskool when I was very little.  Then there was the Barbie Glamour Home and the Playmobil Victorian Mansion.  And there were, of course, the numerous customized Lego houses I built.

You can imagine I’m thinking about these again because we’re having a little girl.  Yes, you are right.  And I *think* Mother T has packed these precious relics away for safekeeping until the day we can pass them along to Little Girl Haggard.

Beyond these beauties, there is one other dollhouse.  I’ve had it in my personal possession the last few years.  And it is the one I hold dearest to my heart. There is a story to it, of course.

When I was around eight or nine we used to make routine trips to a place called Frank’s Nursery & Crafts.  I loved going there.  Mom would look for flowers and I  meandered the aisles looking at art supplies.

The best spot in the entire store was the aisle that had wooden dollhouses displayed on the very top row.  They were build-it-yourself kits, and let me tell you, they were not for the faint-of-dollhouse-heart.

They were all intricate, with ornate details and individual cedar shingles.  And these were the unpainted, un-dazzled-up, empty versions.  Looking up at them, I would imagine what a completed, furnished version of each one of them might look like.

I don’t know how long it was before I convinced my parents to buy one for me.  They were not cheap.  And I would need Dad to work with me on it.   I remember how huge the box was when we brought it home.  Yes, this would be quite a bit of work.

Our house in Minnesota had a detached two-story garage and the upstairs included a shop/storage area.  This is where we began the project.  I remember sitting there impatiently watching Dad glue the base together, put down each small piece of wood for the flooring, and then stain it a deep, dark color. I’m pretty sure we got in an argument that time because I wanted to help more and he was intent on getting it perfect.

We didn’t get much farther than the base and the main walls before I lost interest and it got lost in the mix of life.  All the pieces still sat there on the shop table and when I would go upstairs in the garage to play, I would remember and feel overwhelmed by the task and discouraged that we hadn’t finished it.

It was probably two years later when I got up the gumption and decided we were going to finish it. I guess those two extra years were what I needed. It felt like this time around I could figure out more of the directions and complete the steps myself or with some extra instruction from Dad.

It was only a matter of a few months and the house was almost done.  I moved it to our basement and that’s where I glued on each individual shingle and painted it.

Here is the finished product.  I will say, it’s almost 20 years old and has moved from Minnesota to Idaho to Seattle and is still in pretty darn good shape.

[Bring back any memories, Dad? And because of your hard work, the hardwood floors look amazing to this day! ]

You can tell the exterior needs some love.  Railings are broken, window panes are gone, and I’d like to repaint it.

You don’t even know how excited I am to give it all the love it needs.  Yes, this is the project I’m undertaking for Little Girl Haggard and really, for myself.  Even just pulling it out has brought back a lot of memories of what it was like to be a girl and to like girl things.

When I unveiled it for Jason his response was “Wow, it’s big!”  I set up all the furniture inside to show him, but I think I got more enjoyment out of that than he did.

During that process I realized it will be really hard for me to just focus on the exterior.  When I was a kid, though I ended up really enjoying the building, it was also the part I had to get done so I could devote myself to decorating it and making up stories inside of it.  I spent a lot of time collecting the furniture and miniatures (again, not a cheap endeavor for my parents).

And let me tell you, finding dollhouse stores is not easy to do.  This was back before internet shopping and let’s just say there aren’t a whole lot of people out there obsessed enough with dollhouses to try to make a living off of them.  But if there were those people in the early 90s in Spokane and North Idaho I was bound to find them!

But back to the project at hand.  My next steps are to find some photos for inspiration and visit the dollhouse shop that just happens to be minutes from our house.  I have always wanted to go there and now I have a great reason.

In my initial internet search this afternoon I came across a photo of the same dollhouse, which I was so excited to find–in France, of all places (scroll down to last photo). It’s given me some ideas for exterior accroutements that would really change the whole look of the house.  Though we will see, I’m not sure my budget allows so many do-dads.

That is it for now, but I look forward to updating here as the project continues.  And, I will leave you with one little sound bite from my dollhouse unveiling on Saturday night:

Jason: Since you already have this dollhouse, what project will her and I have to do together?

Me: When I was a kid I dreamed of a whole neighborhood of these houses!  If she’s anything like me, you’ll have plenty to do.

Secretly, I hope I get to be involved, too. 🙂