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!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Breakfast to Dinner


You know it's been a good day when the bookends of the day are molasses spice cookies (with coffee with cinnamon) in the morning and pumpkin bread at bedtime!  It has occurred to me that in this space it appears that we eat primarily desserts, which would be slightly misleading.  We do enjoy our baked goods, though.  But just for the sake of balance, here are some pictures of a tasty fifteen bean soup I like to make whenever we have a ham bone and some leftover ham pieces in the fridge.  The big kids have about a spoonful each with coercion, but Ben, the babies and I love it, and it makes plenty of leftovers.  And once it sits in the fridge for a day or two, it thickens slightly, and tastes delicious in a seven layer dip, so how's that for versatility?

It has been chilly and rainy these past couple of days.  The type of weather that makes you want to stay inside all day, which, come to think of it, is pretty much what we did.  I set the girls up with a pumpkin bread mix in the kitchen and challenged them to cooperatively make the bread entirely by themselves, and they succeeded with flying colors!  The only thing I did was pull down a bowl, a spatula, and then place the finished product in the oven.  See, this having kids gets easier and easier with time, and before you know it, they're baking you pumpkin bread!  (Note: that was yesterday.  Today the girls couldn't even take a bath without a conflict arising.  Hrmph.)

And while I'm still talking about baked goods, those spice cookies were really tasty.  They actually call for pepper, which I was quite skeptical of at first, but yielded a very tasty lingering flavor that didn't taste like pepper at all.  I'll add them to my list of tasty things with weird ingredients like black bean brownies.

I've been on a project to accumulate cloth napkins at the thrift store the past few months: my criteria was mainly something that wouldn't show stains (aka: with a pattern and not white) and made from a non-fussy and durable material.  We have quite the hodgepodge, but it has been a success, and I am glad not to be dealing with paper napkins anymore.  The added bonus is since they are unique and distinct from one another, we can remember which one someone used from one day to the next and don't have to wash them with each use.

And I must say a word about Hugo, who, as he reminds me throughout the day, is on my team.  "We're on a team today, Mommy!" He'll exclaim upon awaking in the morning.  And then he will ask to kiss me, and hug me, and walk around from one person to the next doing the same. He has so much love.  He says the most hilarious little things during these flurries of affection like, "You are so honored for me, Daddy!"  We don't even know what it means, but it is said with much love and energy and this little boy is the sweetest.  He also has such strong feelings about little things like, I don't know, which cup he gets at dinner.  We are always trying to help him out through involving him in what's going on, or asking him beforehand which he wants, or reducing the choices being offered (insert parenting advice of choice here), but sometimes he's simply frustrated and upset.  The trails of being three and a half.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.