Thursday, February 11, 2016

100 Ways To Use Oranges

No, no, I'm only kidding.  I *wish* I knew of 100 ways to use oranges, because we have about one thousand ripe ones on the tree in our backyard, and we have eaten more than we can handle.  So far, we actually only have three: plain old ripe oranges, orange juice, and orange marmalade.  All three are pretty big hits around here, though, so we might just stick to those basics for a while longer (maybe diversifying to mimosas.  How have we not made those yet??).  And we give oranges to everyone who comes by our house, or lives near us, or is a friend.  Apparently oranges in February in California are sort of like tomatoes in August in Virginia, in that everyone has more than they need even though they are so so good.  

For the first time in my life I am living in a place where it is actually seasonally appropriate to buy bathing suits when stores start selling them.  Which means that as of earlier this week, both Clara and Dorothy have bathing suits which, of course, they insisted on wearing all day, all the way through to bathtime, which was the first appropriate moment to be wearing them.

We've been trying to work it out so that each morning one twin is at home "helping" with Josephine, while the other is out and about embarking on some sort of adventure.  It has actually been incredibly awesome, partly because it's the first time we've spent large amounts of time with Clara and Dorothy individually, and while they are quite a bit alike, they are definitely unique individuals.  Oh my goodness, they love being around the baby, which results in all sorts of ridiculous moments, like trying to insist that no, Josephine cannot eat a lollipop.

Our little Josephine celebrated her nameday on Monday, which, for those of you not familiar with the tradition, is a celebration of the feast day of one's patron saint.  In Poland, your nameday is actually a much bigger deal than even your birthday, and my dad sent over pastries from a local bakery along with some information about Josephine's patron saint, Saint Josephine Bakhita, to help us celebrate.  I encourage you to read about her life, because it is truly an incredible story, one which includes kidnapping, enslavement, forced conversion to Islam, travel over many continents, and ultimately conversion to Christianity, freedom, the religious life, and canonization as one of Africa's modern saints.

Did you receive ashes yesterday?  We skipped our traditional Ash Wednesday pretzels (which I think we'll have to make tomorrow on the first Friday of lent!).  It feels a little funny to be celebrating Lent when it feels like summer outside, but even so, I welcome the rhythm of the liturgical seasons, and am excited to set up some of our traditional Lenten practices, like planting grass seeds for good deeds, or praying a decade of the Rosary with the older kids.   What are your family's practices for Lent?  How do your kids participate? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Creative Activity and Rest

For me, there is something that happens after the birth of a child that results in a total surge of creative activity.  Which sort of makes sense, because at its heart, having a child is the ultimate creative endeavor, isn't it?  All of a sudden, there are sewing patterns lying around and new recipes in the kitchen, and new knitting patterns, which really seems like it should not be the case when there is a one week old baby in the house.

But then again, I think there is something very creative about being in a state of rest.  That's the rationale behind retreats, right?  That when we quiet our minds and bodies, and create a blank space on our calendars, it creates space for the divine to speak to us.  

In my own house, I am suddenly sitting much more than I am accustomed to.  Sitting and nursing a tiny, perfect little human.  And from that state of rest, I have been noticing such glimmers of beauty all around me.  Dorothy creating a little perch for herself in the baby's bassinet, where she can keep an eye out for the neighborhood cats.  Heavy ripe oranges falling from the tree with gusts of wind.  Lily, unprompted, guiding Hugo to our bed to read him aloud a book at bedtime.  Or sweet little Josephine, totally asleep, taking a break to stretch her tiny arms.  Are these things new, or am I just now noticing them?

We are slowly returning back to a sense of real time, and there are reading lists and potential trips and menu plans swirling around in my head.  I might get around to some of those things, but I do have some serious distractions, including a set of rambunctious twin toddlers and a very sweet newborn baby in my arms, and those things by themselves would be enough to make my heart full.

Friday, January 29, 2016

This Time Around

It's amazing how, even having been through this whole new-baby-in-the-house-thing a few times before, there are things that have taken us by surprise since Josephine was born.  Her smallness, for one.  Her fragility and beauty and newness.  The way her siblings really love her, in a way that makes us so thankful that we can give the gift of siblinghood to each of these children of ours.  How could I have forgotten those things?  

Of course, things really are different this time around, partly because there is just one baby involved!  It has taken a little bit of getting used to to realize that there is just one baby to diaper, to nurse, to hold.  It feels as if I've always forgotten something, that sneaky secret twin I should be burping.  But can I just say it is oh so much easier?  A single baby fits in my arms (or a sling/carrier/a sibling's or daddy's arms) no problem.  It feels so healing to realize that I can care completely for this one baby.

Even amid the miracle of a new person being born, life has a way of slowly yet rhythmically moving forward.  Our kids are old enough that they have their own routines, their own activities and friendships which set the pace of our daily life.  Homework is done and meals are prepared and books are read.  It is incredibly soothing and fulfilling to be able to count on those rhythms and look forward to them,  simply with a new baby in our arms.  Realizing that our lives are enriched but not utterly changed.  It's a gentle shift.

One lesson I have learned over the course of the pregnancies that I've had is that it is truly good to rest following a birth.  To largely if not entirely stay at home, to take naps and sleep late and nurse the baby whenever she wants.  Where after Zosia's birth I was itching to do anything and everything-- from going on long walks to going to restaurants to going to yoga and entertaining-- over these years I've relished the pause that a new baby offers.  There is nowhere to go, nothing to do except the very basic things.  And these basic things seem to involve a lot of staring at a newborn baby (by each member of our family!).  Oh, I could gaze at Josephine for hours!  They should have a netflix station that is just real time footage of newborns, I would watch it!  Ben has a wonderful paternity leave, and it has been so lovely to watch him bond with Josephine, who has him wrapped around her finger, or play legos with Hugo, or cook something delicious for dinner.  

So that is all for today.  Gushing about newborns (sorry!), ordinary daily things, and rest.  And because it is Friday, a quote from Pope Francis for you:

"All that is good, all that is true, all that is beautiful brings us to God.  Because God is good, God is beautiful, God is the truth.  But the most beautiful thing that God made, the Bible says, was the family.  All of the love that God has in Himself, all of the beauty that God has in Himself, all of the truth that God has in Himself, He gives to the family.  And a family is truly a family when it is able to open its arms and receive all of this love."

Happy weekend, friends!