Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Josephine at Six Months

Josephine is six months old, which feels kind of incomprehensible.  It feels incomprehensible, because how is she sitting up already?  How is she scooting like a little inch worm with her bottom high up in the air, and then her little legs thrusting her forward one little bit at a time?  But then it also feels incomprehensible, because how could we have not yet known her just a few months ago?  It feels like she's always been in this family, with her easy smile and bright eyes.  So let me tell you a little more about Josephine, this baby of ours.

The kids all call her "Jo Jo," and when you say it, she smiles and coos and knows exactly who you're talking about.  And when I come into the room with her (because I am usually carrying her with me when she's awake), all the kids gather around and eagerly say "Jo Jo! Jo Jo!" and it's a competition to see who she will look at.  The tactics have become somewhat extreme, with squeaky voices and growly voices, and even though I often hold her a little closer as if all of the commotion would upset her, she loves every bit of it.  She smiles bigger, and lets out a big laugh, because who am I kidding?  This is the sixth child in a lively and boisterous family.  Commotion is her middle name.

You would not be wrong to say she is a little spoiled.  She is always in someone's arms, or surrounded by many kids.  She is usually sleeping right next to me or close by, and she nurses often but doesn't eat solid foods yet.  Maybe I relish these opportunities because they came less naturally with the twins (co-sleeping with two babies was a puzzle I could never solve), or maybe it's Josephine's mellow and cheerful temperament, but at this rate I will seriously be that mom who is rocking an 18 year old to sleep, I am enjoying every single minutes of it that much.

She is also probably our most out and about baby, not only because she was born in a state across the country from home, but because we bring her with us everywhere.  She started spending days on the beach when she was just a few weeks old, and you are still likely to find her poolside, or out on a walk with us, or on a daytrip, weekend trip, or jog.  People say her skin looks olive, but it's just her California baby tan, and if you ask Ben about it, he will proudly pull apart the roll on her chubby little wrist and show you how white her skin is.  

I hate to go on and on about my baby, but you guys!  Baby smiles!  Chubby wrists!  Total sweetness, I could talk about it all day.  I will accept the eye rolls.  :-)

(And I'm still lobbying for her to be called Josie!  I may be outnumbered, I'll let you know how it goes.  And for those of you who are curious, here are a few of the other kids at six months.  I see both Lily and Hugo in her!)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Camp Out

The other week we went camping with some friends, and it was a reminder of how sometimes it's worth it to just block off a weekend for something out of the ordinary.  There were burgers, and bunny sightings, and children playing around in a lake, and even a little birthday celebration for our friend's sweet (now) three year old, and mandatory smores.

The single thing that was probably the most marked for me was the fact that open space is the most perfect natural habitat for children.  There were, let's see, fourteen children, and they were all off gathering sticks or chasing each other around, or making piles of the dry earth.  And, aside from keeping an eye on all of the little ones because of all of the mountain lions in these parts (!!!), everyone was very independent and happy.  

The nights are cool, drastically so (is it because of the dry air? The breeze from the ocean?), and by the time the sun was going down, everyone was in sweaters and socks, and covered from head to toe with dust and marshmallows.  If you lined our family up, we could have been cast as a family in the dust bowl, complete with bare feet, determined faces, and many little children.  Isn't it the craziest realization that children don't need a bath in the evening for their health and well being, they're just fine sleeping a little dusty.  It feels at once rebellious and totally natural.

We happened to be out camping during a heat wave, and that meant that the days were hot.  Up in the hills, it gets dry in the summer, the tall grass that was verdant with rain in the winter are yellow and parched, and during the summer the heat can be pronounced.  We went fishing in the little lake in the afternoon, and we left woozy with the heat, happy to cool off with cold water and fruit at home.

It was a pleasant little camping trip, and I hope we have more of them in our future (and now that we have a big old family tent, I'm feeling optimistic that it might be the case!).  

Do you have any favorite camping memories?  Or any tips for camping with kids?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mid Summer Snapshots

::Every now and then I browse through my recent pictures and wonder, "Hm.  Where's Zosia?"  And the answer is exactly the same as when we ask that question in our own house, which is "Probably reading a book."  This child of mine is a voracious reader (if she were still up I could ask her how many pages she's read in the last year, but I think it's three million?  Four million?).  Ben and I are more than sympathetic to her cause, and I admire her ability to discreetly duck out and find a cosy place to read.  Can you think of a better way to spend summer vacation?  She found some Nancy Drew books at a yard sale this weekend, and has been reading them one by one.
::The retreat center I went to the other week had a cubby system to keep track of napkins, and it was such an effortless way to keep track of nearly 30 women's napkins from one meal to the next.  We have tried having unique napkin rings in the past, but it just has never quite worked from meal to meal, so I knew this was a system I would have to attempt at home, and it is a success!  Numbered according to birth order, starting from Ben, who is the oldest in the family.
::Josephine is five months old, and she is in the most perfect stage of babyhood.  Smiley and curious and yet still snuggly and... immobile.  I love it.
::Our big kids and their neighborhood friends put on a full fledged lemonade stand last weekend and those kids made some M O N E Y.  Granted, it was "dance on the street day" (You know you live in California when your whole town, including all of the streets, close down for a whole day to enable dancing on the street.  These Californians have some joie de vivre), so there was a lot of foot traffic.  Those kids juiced hundreds of lemons from our neighbor's yard, manned the stand for hours, and helped me bake all of the cookies and brownies.  I was definitely proud of them, and when they walked down to town all by themselves the next day to go shopping at the candy store I think they felt some gratification.
::These children of mine have weathered feet and sun on their faces all day long.
::Dinner is outside most evenings, weather permitting.  We have been working on more peaceful dinnertimes.  Doesn't that sound like it would be nice?  Those of you who have eaten with us know that our family grace is a verse of "Dona Nobis Pacem" which is a traditional latin hymn meaning "Grant Us Peace."  And there are definitely nights when dinner feels like a peaceful occasion, although there are also definitely nights when it feels like there are five hungry lion cubs trying to make sure they get their part of the kill (or perhaps even worse, the night when our lion cubs have full tummies and get bored about two minutes into the conversation, begging to be allowed to go and play). 
::Our resident little mommy, doing things like voluntarily giving the twins swimming lessons and humming as she spontaneously tidies the house.  This one was made to have little siblings, and I am so glad that she has not one but four!
::Gratuitous clothes line picture.  This thing still makes me so happy. I filled it three times today, and the clothing was dry in less than an hour.  I am amazed.  I actually happened to have an especially large load of laundry the other day which didn't all fit on the line, so I split it in half, and put half in the dryer and half out on the line as a race.  And the result was..... drumroll........ a tie!  But of course not as far as our electric bill is concerned.  I'm totally a convert.
::It is in my nature to always be scurrying around and picking things up, or preparing meals, or whatever other housework is at hand, but if I am sitting down, I am probably reading aloud to the kids.  I love that when Ben or I start reading a book, one by one the children start gathering around from whatever they might be doing to listen.
::The farmer's market that's right up the street from our house just started back up for the summer, and although there are several year round farmer's markets around, there's something about an event being right underfoot that makes us so much more likely to attend.  This week's haul included bread, tomatoes, stone fruit, mandatory flowers, and a bunch of veggies, which Ben decided weren't pretty enough to include in the picture.

It is really starting to feel like summer, and I love it!  How is your summer going?