Monday, August 18, 2014

Away


Two weeks before the twins were born, when he should have been making extra meals, or folding baby clothing, or whatever other nesting activity is appropriate for anyone about to welcome not one but two babies into his family, Ben booked our summer vacation.  Let me tell you, it seemed ages away, and like a bit of a silly idea.  We had a million practical considerations, and were quite busy from moment to moment.  Who was thinking of summer?

But then during the coming days, those most difficult days of my pregnancy, when just getting through the day or even the hour seemed to be the primary task at hand, I found myself closing my eyes and imagining our favorite mountain spot in West Virginia.  I'm sure as Ben was taking on essentially every household task in addition to working a full time day job, as he did in those final days, he did too.  Our twins would be almost eight months old.  We hadn't even held them yet, seen them yet, or safely welcomed them into the world yet, but on our vacation all of those unknown details would be filled in, and we would be able to enjoy one another's company in a magical spot in nature. I imagined the little lake, the cool air, the mountain breeze.

We just got home from our week, and last night when I closed my eyes I still saw it in my mind.  The mountains, the pine trees, the deep silence.  My mind feels so clear, and as we settle back into our own quiet day to day back home, I am realizing what a tremendous year it's been.  Tiring, exhilarating, filled with incredibly hard work, and the deepest joy I have known.  And now we find ourselves in a more restful season, gratefully accepting the gift of rejuvenation.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Some Leisure Reading



Throughout the week, Ben is always sending me interesting articles he comes across.  I always read them, and they're usually really good!  So I thought I would share a few favorites from the past couple of weeks.

Here's an article that talks about sleep as a competitive advantage (as opposed to thinking of working extra long hours as the competitive advantage).  And if you think it's ironic to be writing about sleep when I have two babies in the house, you should look at this Ted talk about how we naturally sleep (Spoiler: it's not in a single stretch of eight consecutive hours!).  Mothers of nursing babies, you have to read it!  It will make you much more chill about that 2 am feeding.

I loved this article called Masters of Love.  It has some wonderful thoughts about ways to have a lasting, successful, marriage.  Years ago, when a newly engaged friend asked us for our best marriage advice, Ben had an immediate answer: Always assume positive intent.  Is your spouse late?  Messy?  Grumpy?  Did (s)he leave underwear on the floor in the bathroom?  The answer is the same: assume positive intent.  "Ah yes, a hermeneutic of generosity," our friend responded, which is a beautiful way of putting it.  Whatever you're going to call it, I strive every single day to live it out with Ben, with our kids, and with whoever I might come across.  It will change the way you look at the world.

This is exactly how I feel when I think about these babies growing up!  This little girl has captured my emotions to a T.  The best part is when the baby smiles at his sobbing sister.

Have you guys watched Bob's Burgers (link to one of our favorite episodes)?  It is a seriously funny adult show (definitely not for kiddos!), and I think you'll find the characters just as silly as we do.  Here's an interview with the cast which you should look at after you've watched a couple of episodes. Can you believe the way they cast those voice actors?

And here's some research that supports what I think many parents already know: it's play that makes kids smarter, not classroom time.  And with that, carry on with all of your summer adventures!

We're taking a bit of a technology break these coming days: looking forward to dropping in soon!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Slow


You guys, we found a turtle!  Spotted by Zosia while crossing the street just like it was no big deal.  We deliberated for some time about whether he was a pet or a wild animal, but the determination with which he was crawling towards the creek led us to believe wild animal.  We spent a little while trying to train him (with success, if you would ask Lily or Hugo, who would stand directly in his path while yelling "Here, turtle!  Here, turtle!" and then claim victory when he took a step towards them before changing directions).  And then we released him and he crawled away, eager to continue on his journey.  Quick as a wink, and here we were thinking that turtles were supposed to be among the slowest in the animal kingdom.  Just a few minutes, but he certainly captured our imaginations.

Our lives these past few months have been composed of many such little fragments.  Any moment has a list of five very urgent matters that must immediately be tended to.  A meal, a diaper, a guest, a game, a book.  And then, five minutes later, the list changes.  It creates a beautiful mosaic of a day, although in the moment, it can feel like a bit of a marathon.  And despite the fact that I sometimes find that a morning has flown by and I have not gotten off of my feet once, I nevertheless have become a little addicted to the quick pace of life, to tell you the truth.  It is thrilling and feels incredibly fulfilling to be able to care for one another diligently, and there's a way that a big family starts to feel like a well oiled machine.  

Every now and then these days, we find ourselves with a longer stretch of quiet time, and it's that slowness that takes some adjusting to.  Last week, the girls participated in a sweet little dance camp, and I found myself only with Hugo while the babies napped in the morning.  We would read something like ten books, play a few games, all at the most leisurely pace.  Eventually we would tidy the house a bit and get a sack.  Every moment I was filled with the feeling that surely I must be forgetting something.  But no, there was nothing extra.  Just Hugo and two napping babies.  What a funny feeling!  And these days I'm realizing that it's okay to slow down the pace, since things will be quieter when the big girls are in school this year.

Which brings me to our school decision for the coming year.  As many of you know, this past year we homeschooled for first grade.  We loved it.  We loved having Zosia around, loved the fact that we could learn so much so quickly and then spend the rest of our time learning through play.  It was a wonderful year, and it was an incredible gift to have our whole family here during the year that we welcomed twins (seriously! My two "big girls" have proved themselves competent as baby holders, baby entertainers, and even baby diaper changers.  It was like having two built in mothers' helpers).  

However, as the year progressed, we realized that finding time for formal instruction was becoming trickier.  Now, enter two crawling, cruising babies, and it is suddenly even trickier.  As much as we loved homeschooling, it became clear that this coming year was not a good homeschooling year.  Regardless, we felt like there were a lot of things that we had accomplished at home that were wonderful.  Things like nature study, reading live books, integrating our faith into our schooling, and being actively involved in the educational process.  We felt sad to be letting these things go, and started thinking and praying of a way to continue along this path.

I can't narrate all of individual events that transpired in such a small space, but they go something like this.  We found a school, one that we loved, and every barrier  (substantial barriers, mind you!) were lifted one by one.  Our prayer for clarity was decisively answered.  The girls will be in school together at a sweet small Christian school that is close by, that is very homeschooling friendly, and that welcomes (requires, even!) substantial parental involvement.  And what's more, not only do they support the type of school we tried to create at home, but we feel like have a lot to learn from them.

We are all excited to imagine what this coming year will hold!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mud Pies and Virginia Summer


I was born and raised in this part of Virginia where we're raising our family.  At the closest hospital to our house, brought home to our family's apartment just a mile from where we live now.  And if you talk to me about it, you will learn that I am quite the Virginia enthusiast.  It's kind of a great state: there are beaches, farms, mountains, rivers.  The seasons are distinct and showy.  Things are always changing, ushering in a new feel to the air, or new colors to the trees.  The clothing we wear changes drastically from month to month, as do our activities and the ways we interact with the outdoors.

And let me tell you that in all my years here in this state, I have never known a summer quite like this one!  Mild, cool, breezy?  I am tickled, as these days remind me of our summers in Boston (whose summers are stunning).  Our windows are open, we often find ourselves wearing a sweater.  It has been pretty great, and we have been living out of doors whenever possible.  It has been a flurry of energy and activity, and I have found myself taking cues from my wise eldest (who lives up to the meaning of her name, wisdom), who sometimes asks if we can spend the afternoon at home.  And we do, and take a deep breath and remember that the coming seasons hold for us more of this rest, the still time indoors to create and take in a different kind of beauty.

Clara and Dorothy are crawling.  Dorothy crawls hand over hand, quickly and assertively.  She loves it when I vacuum (still! The babies adored this as newborns!) and follows the vacuum around.  My little housekeeping companion.  Clara is crawling, too, but slowly, deliberately.  There she is crawling to my camera from her blanket in the grass.  At our six month appointment I informed the doctor that the babies were crawling.  She wasn't too impressed, until I sat Dorothy down on the exam table.  At which point she swiveled into a leaning sitting position, then swiveled again into a crawling position and proceeded to crawl (almost) off the table.  "You will never see a six month old do this again," the doctor, stunned, informed the resident.  So there you have it, our incredible crawling twinsies.

The kids have been making mud pies (I have learned to always trust Ginny's book suggestions!  They are the best) and setting teatimes for dolls, stuffed animals, brothers and fathers alike. I received a serious reprimand for discarding some chalk tea, which was left out in the kitchen.  Seriously, sometimes mothers just do not know what's most important!  

And the girls have been preparing for this coming year, during which they will be going to school.  We have been praying and worrying (me) and trying to figure out the best path for our family this coming year, and in the end our discernment was clear and easy: I'm excited to share more with you about it in the coming weeks.

(Oh, and will you look at the babies with their cousin Grace!  We call her the "big triplet," and I can already see how these three will be thick as thieves over the years).