Wednesday, November 26, 2014

First Steps, Thanksgiving, and Premature Decorating


I'm happy to say it's official.  The babies have started walking!  Clara has been freestanding for weeks, occasionally taking a single step forward before falling back down, while Dorothy has been quite content to do a little one handed scoot (with incredible speed, I must add).  The other morning, Dorothy decided to give this whole standing thing a try.  I watched her do it and could see that incredible "Aha!" moment when she realized, "I can do this!  I'm standing!"  That afternoon, our sweet little friend Molly, who is five, was helping me watch the babies while the other big kids were playing outside.  Dorothy, who has proven herself to be fearless and brave (both very admirable qualities) decided to just go ahead and walk over to Molly.  Why not?  And she did it.  Three or four steps, just like that.  

Clara, who was watching the show, saw that walking is no big deal.  A little later that afternoon, after Ben got home, she decided to go ahead and give it a try.  And she did, just like that.  A step or two, and then six or seven as she gained her confidence.  So on a single day, I believe it was Tuesday, November 18, both babies started walking.  Talk about being identical!  They are our earliest walkers yet, reaching the milestone at ten months.  You can see some of their first steps here, and as they become more sure on their feet, I'm sure I'll become more adept at photographing them.  We are absolutely delighted, proud, and realizing that we will need to babyproof our house even more!

We're spending the day baking inside, which is about all this day is good for, as it's raining and snowing and kind of gross outside.  One pecan pie and pumpkin pie down, one apple pie and cranberry bread left to go today.  Tomorrow we're going to town on the sides and making our traditional Polish turkey recipe before heading over to my parents' house to enjoy their Polish turkey, which will probably be even better.  We are just so crazy about turkey leftovers, I never go a Thanksgiving without roasting one!

And if you're also looking for something to do at home today, don't forget about these cute pilgrim hats and bonnets and the Charlie Brown Mayflower episode, which is perfect for teaching children about the first Thanksgiving.

I simply cannot express how grateful I am feeling this year.  Last year at this time, I was really pregnant with twins, and had no idea quite how I would get through the year.  Unbeknownst to me, the hardest weeks of my pregnancy were ahead of me, but they would be concluded with the most beautiful and peaceful birth I could have imagined.  The months since then have been pure grace, enjoying the presence of these sweet little girls and soaking up every second.  I am just so incredibly thankful.

Oh, and I guess I might as well come clean with a little confession.  I found a dried boxwood wreath at the store the other day, and wanted to make sure it fit the door.  I put it up to double check, and was just flooded with all those warm Christmasy feelings.  I figured I would leave it up for the afternoon, and I just couldn't bring myself to take it down, because I am really really excited about Advent and Christmas.  A day has turned into a week, and at this point, that wreath is staying put.  So there you have it, there is premature Christmas decorating happening, and it is by me.  

Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

This and That


What would a Saturday morning be without a family outing?  Around here, the farmer's market is running a bit of a monopoly on Saturdays, leaving other local spots calm and quiet and ready for exploration.  I think Zosia and Hugo have the right idea.  Once you have had your hot chocolate, chai tea, or coffee, depending on your preference (chai tea all the way!), it only seems fitting that you would have a dance party, don't you think?  Just the perfect welcome to the weekend.

I love these pictures of teeny tiny NICU babies.  By some stroke of incredible luck, I have several friends having babies this month.  I got to hold one such newborn baby the other day, and I marvel at the incredible hope and possibility of every single life.  It is a miracle.

We are pretty big Pope Francis fans around here.  Isn't this a great idea?

For the past few years, we've been trying to get the bulk of our Christmas shopping done before the start of Advent.  It leaves the month of December free of scrambling and fretting, and free to do more of the joyful things that we actually associate with preparing for the birth of Jesus.  Which means this is go time!  I must say, this year I am feeling really excited about Christmas!

And just those two links feel like a paltry offering for you, but that's all I have.  Feel free to share if you've seen something awesome floating around the internet lately!

Thank you guys for the kind words, emails, and comments in response to my last post.  The first year of having a baby is a tricky one emotionally: can I hear an Amen from all of the women who have experienced some iteration of this?  Those early newborn weeks are pure bliss in this household.  But right around this ten month mark of post partum has always been a tricky one for me to navigate.  I have been through it before, and know that with hard work and faith, that difficulty has resulted in something incredible each and every time: a cross country move, epiphany, and discovering a new calling, to name a few.  I think that sometimes we as a society try to conceal or erase our dark nights, striking them from the record.  But there truly is a time for every purpose under heaven.  I write about it in this space because I try to be authentic and honest, and I know that many of us go through this, and that's okay!  I already feel an energy brewing for something new.  I can't wait to see what it might be.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Outwards


I never really mean to step away from this space for more than a day or two, but in these several years of blogging, I've noticed that sometimes little sabbaticals naturally form.  One of the lovely things about blogging simply for the pleasure of documenting our family life is that I can go with the flow without pressure or deadlines.  Sometimes it is a sickness in the family, or a particularly busy week with the kids, or giving birth to twins.  You know, the usual stuff.  :-)

The last few weeks I've found myself struggling with the seasonal shift.  Or more accurately, struggling with the anticipation of the seasonal shift.  The barren branches, the chill in the air, the darkening of the evenings.  I didn't feel ready.  Not quite yet.

But also, it was more than that.  I also found myself struggling with some larger picture seasonal shifts.  An unexpected health situation in the extended family.  Accepting the reality of the physical distance between us and people we love deeply.  Seeing our babies venturing out into the world with their own stumbling first steps and realizing that they are no longer the newborns we cradled so eagerly.  These are normal sorts of things that we all deal with every day, but somehow I allowed them to cast a dark cloud over my every day life.  The same every day life that I find to be blindingly beautiful from one moment to the next, which I receive with a grateful heart as a gift from our Creator.  But just like the approaching cold, it wasn't the winter itself that left me feeling down, but the anticipation of it.  Isn't it funny how that happens?

I cleared my schedule to allow for solitude and introspection, and attending to the urgent matters at hand.  That gave me space to process and gather my thoughts, but, truth be told, my spirit still felt gloomy.  Because the winter is still coming, whether I like it or not.  And it was somewhere in the middle of that gloominess that I felt a stirring inside of me propelling me outward.  Not the usual thing for a woman who is a homebody through and through.  It felt quite urgent, to tell you the truth, in a "Whew, I need to get out of this room because it is feeling hot!" sort of way.  Out of the room of my introspection into the world, where there are countless adventures, new faces, new experiences, along with immeasurable beauty.  I mean, I have six built in companions by my side, right?  And somehow, adventure has a way of making life so much more exciting, don't you think?

The trees are becoming increasingly bare, the evenings are longer and darker, and fall is quite certainly here.  It isn't nearly as bad as I had feared, to tell you the truth.  Quite nice, actually.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

From our Hermione,Skeleton, Flower Fairy, and her Pollinators


::Note: we do not actually feed our babies Tootsie Pops, although these pictures suggest otherwise.  They did do the trick for keeping them still for a few pictures, though!::

We have a quiet house with five sleeping babies and many sacks full of candy.  I think everyone would say it was a successful Halloween.  In the end we settled on Hermione (Zosia), a skeleton (Hugo), a flower fairy (Lily) and her pollinators, who were played by our two bumble bees (Clara and Dorothy).  The "big kids" have this trick or treating thing down to a science, and bound from house to house, leading a tribe of neighborhood kids behind them.  The babies are quite literally along for the ride, but seemed to be pretty happy taking in the costumes, the neighbors, and then after nightfall, the bright lights.

The thing I love most about Halloween is the neighborliness.  For some neighbors, it is one time among many that we stroll up their walk way and knock on their door over the course of a year.  For others, it might be the only time we chat with them, or the very first time we meet them.  There aren't many occasions quite like it.

Ben and I just got home from a fire pit a couple of houses down where we sat around and drank wine with some of our favorite neighbors, laughing and telling stories about neighborhood lore like that time that the dorecho took our power out for a week.  It is a good thing to be surrounded by friends, and I am deeply grateful for it.  Hopefully you found yourself in equally good company.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

THE week


You guys, this is the week.  The beautiful, magical, perfect week of autumn when the leaves are all changing colors, clinging to branches, and then gently falling to the ground.  It is dry and cool and still warm in the sun.  It is the week that makes me love autumn unlike any other season, even though it means that winter is around the corner, and winter just might be cold and long like it was last year.  But this week I am not at all thinking about that, because all you need to do is step outside or open a window and be overtaken by the beauty of this season.

We had our neighborhood Halloween party and pumpkin carving competition this week, which is always the official kickoff of Halloween week.  Theoretically, it would help me get everyone's costume together so we are all ready for the big trick or treating day to follow, but my children have for several years embraced this as an opportunity to have two costumes in a single year.  Clever little things.  The girls decided they wanted to be "the goddesses of Olympus," which was one of those proud moments that made me realize that we are succeeding in raising nerds!  I love it!  Zosia was Athena, goddess of wisdom, perfect for her, as Zosia is Sofia in Polish, and Sofia means wisdom.  Lily, with heavy coaxing from Zosia, decided to be Persephone, and I am quite certain she never really knew exactly who she was, nor how to pronounce her name, but man did she look cute with that wreath on her head.  We spent the afternoon looking up toga tutorial videos, and right after painstakingly pinning and tucking their sheets just so we went to the party, where the kids immediately started running around like crazy and the togas came apart immediately.  I think that the gods and goddesses of Olympus did not run around like crazy.  We didn't really have anyone else's costume together, so I'll just have to surprise you how everything turns out on Halloween.

We went on a long meandering walk on Sunday, enjoying Halloween decorations and fall colors.  Lily has been carrying a doll or two in a sling for the past three days, and she is the *best* mother to her little babies.  She carries them, and puts them in carseats, and nurses them when they're fussy, and puts them down for naps.  I took the four littlest kids with me to the grocery store on Friday, Lily with two babydolls in a sling, and I think we were quite the spectacle, parading around the store with babies and slings and tiny little people everywhere.  And yet people were absolutely delighted to see us, smiling and waving, and even walking up and saying "Congratulations!"  You know, it really is true that there are good, kind people everywhere.  Sometimes you have to look around a bit, but they're there.

Happy fall, friends!