Monday, August 31, 2009

Simplifying Meals

I was inspired by this post by Steady Mom about how to keep lunches for kids simple. I have always been a fan of the simple meals, but this just lays it out so beautifully: lunches are a slice of bread with spread, a fruit, and a veggie. Every day. Ahh, how simple and doable. And, especially if you have some homemade whole grain bread, how healthy.

Yesterday we gave it a try with Zosia, and she loved it. Because yesterday's lunch was the last meal before a grocery run, we made do with the last slice of last week's oatmeal bread with some butter and raspberry jam, a slice of watermelon, and a slice of cheese. Yum. And kept her full and grump-free through naptime.

What is your go-to quick meal? Any simple snack favorites?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Quotable Sunday

He who loves the world as his body may be entrusted with the empire.
-Lao tzu

Friday, August 28, 2009

Farmer Boy

There's nothing quite like reading the Little House books to both give me inspiration about things to do with my kids at home and also to make me feel like a totally inadequate homemaker. I'm re-reading Farmer Boy (the only little house book they had at the library, and one of my favorites), and his mom is amazing. Here are merely a few of the things that Almanzo's mother happens to find time for during her day: weaving cloth, sewing clothes, knitting warm things, making three full hot meals every day (a single sample dinner menu being fried apples and onions, roast beef, brown gravy, mashed potatoes, creamed carrots, boiled turnips, countless slices of buttered bread with crab-apple jelly (home made, no doubt) and birds' nest pudding with cream. Umm... that's like a whole week's menu around here!), making cheese, donuts, bread, pies, scrubbing floors with salt and lye (that's a natural cleaning product to try!).

I do feel very comforted by all of the sweet times Almanzo's family has together. What could be cozier than eating popcorn and drinking hot cider by a hot stove in the winter time with Mother knitting, Father whittling, Royal carving sticks, Alice doing embroidery and Eliza Jane reading the paper aloud? These people are adorable.

And talk about feeding my unrealistic dreams of moving to a farm. There's so many interesting things to do around there... things like breaking calves and milking cows and cutting ice for the cellar. Wait. I guess we now have freezers.

Ben reminds me that the whole thing is idealized. They probably only ate popcorn by the fire every new and then, or a few times a year. They did have to wake up in the middle of the night to CHASE ANIMALS AROUND. Talk about a disrupted night. And I guess they did have backbreaking work day in and day out.

But I'm choosing to buy into the utopia for now. You'll find me in the kitchen making dinner in my apron, trying to see if I can drum up some desert for tonight. And wondering where on earth I can fit a loom in our living room.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Plugging Into a Full Life

I have taken the next steps in the discipline of becoming unplugged. First step was ditching the TV-watching (I am happy to report that fios has not impacted this habit... I still haven't figured out how to operate it :-). That single step definitely cut a lot of junk out of my life: things like pointless news coverage, reality TV, and commercials. Ahh.

Second step was ditching the newspaper subscription. Some people will cringe at this change-- afterall, what is more "intellectual elite" than reading the paper in the morning? Well, I took an inventory on how reading the paper was affecting my day-to-day life and realized it wasn't really a net gain. It took my attention and energy away from more nurturing pursuits and itself was sort of a downer: it felt like just about every news story was negative. And, the truth be told, the "big" news stories get through to me the old fashioned way, word of mouth.

Other things have followed: no more NPR (and this from an NPR devotee). We just don't drive much, and I feel like my time with the children at home is better spent talking, singing, or just plain old listening. It has changed the atmosphere in our home for the better.

And now I'm feeling pulled to withdraw from internet usage that isn't nurturing. I love reading blogs-- they are inspiring, nurturing, and beautiful (at least I feel that way about the many I follow). But online newspapers? Facebook? Not that into them at the moment, to be totally honest.

Of course for all of these "no"s there are lots of "yeses." Things like sewing, baking, singing, telling stories, playing outside, going on walks, playing in creeks, trying to be thoughtful to friends and family members. I feel like I am living my life more intentionally, more fully, and in the presence of the joy and beauty of being plugged into the world around me and the people in my life. What a joy.

What things make you feel more "plugged in" to the fullness of life? What things distract you from it?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

because good things must be shared

Rachel (one of Zosia's godmothers) and Sean just welcomed their daughter Junia into this world this past Sunday. I am not typically a huge newborn person, but I am totally smitten with Junia, maybe because I love her parents so much.

I thought this blessing was so beautiful that it had to be shared. From Sean and Rachel's blog:

At Junia's birth (8:55pm August 23) Sean and I blessed her with our words. They were the first unfiltered words she heard with her ears without my body filtering her. Though, I could not say them all with Sean because he had to go to the warmer to touch and meet her and I had to be poked, prodded and closed, we said the final bit together.

Junia's Birth Blessing

(Together if able, Sean if unable)
May you know

The freedom andlife of God when your are healthy
And the humility and need of God when you are in ill health.

May you know

The passionate, dynamic and even ordinary presence of God in your loving.
And the comfort of God in your heartache.

May you know

The delight of God’s creation as you grow and learn your own laughter, playfulness and creativity. And, find your passions in God’s creative zeal for you.

May you know

The joy and richness of God’s poverty and simplicity, and be trusting in God at the times when the world’s values push in on you.

May you know

God’s presence as woman, man, mother, father, laughter, sorrow and all the forms that God takes. And when your prayer ceases may a community hold you in faith.

May you know

That in whatever life holds for you- you are lovable and sacred and beautiful as you are.

Our daughter,

We as your parents will celebrate who you are.
Be with you as you grow.
Acknowledge our mistakes.
Celebrate you as a part of our family and traditions.

We will laugh and cry for you.
We will love you, as best we are able- all the days that we live.

A Useful Guest

Every time Annie comes over, I feel very inspired to be creative-- she always bears gifts of beautiful handmade things: toys for Zosia, handmade dresses, blankets. I am always totally amazed, and feel a desire bubbling to make our home more of a creative center.

Well, these past few weeks I have been lucky, because we have had a guest in our house. A surprisingly productive guest, a guest that has been making baby blankets and new dresses for Zosia and a table cloth. I have been infected by the craftiness bug, and this lovely guest has been feeding my energy. And just when I thought I didn't have a good spot in the house to offer our guest, a neighbor called and asked if I wanted an old corner table she was going to throw out. The perfect home for our guest. Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Oatmeal Bread

Annie asked for my oatmeal bread recipe, so here it is, dug up from an old blog entry. I love this recipe because it is versatile (you can substitute in whole wheat flour, add extras like flax meal or wheat germ, and the bread seems to turn out just fine) and makes great toast and sandwich bread.

Anyway, here is this week's bread recipe, courtesy of More with Less*. I substitute in a little extra whole wheat flour for the white flour:

Oatmeal Bread
Makes 2 loaves
350 degrees
30-40 min

Combine in a large bowl:
1 c. quick oats
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. salt
2 T. butter

Pour over:
2 c. boiling water
Stir in to combine.

1 pkg. (or 2 1/4 t.) yeast in
1/2 c. warm water

When batter is cooled to lukewarm, add yeast.
Stir in:
5 c. white flour
When dough is stiff enough to handle turn onto floured board and knead 5-10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. Punch down and let rise again. Shape into 2 loaves (which, I learned from Irene, means: roll out into a long thin strip that's as wide as your bread pan and roll up from one short end to the other) and place in greased 9 by 5 by 3" pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Cool on rack, brushing loaves with butter for a soft crust.

Recipe by Ella Rohrer, Orrville, Ohio and Carol ann Maust, Upland, California.

Happy baking! May your loaves be like manna from heaven.

*Longacre, Doris Janzen. "More-with-less Cookbook." Herald Press, Scottdale, Pennsylvania, 1976.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Quotable Sunday

"Holy Spirit giving life to all life, moving all creatures, root of all things, washing them clean, wiping out their mistakes, healing their wounds, you are our true life, luminous, wonderful, awakening the heart from its ancient sleep." Hildegard von Bingen

Saturday, August 22, 2009

On Your Second Birthday

Dear Zosia,

You're two today! What a special day. You're in bed right now, but we just had a wonderful day filled with chocolate cake, a new rocking horse, a set of blocks, and lots of reading and singing. There was a big rainstorm today, but that meant that we could stay together and enjoy some time together with our family.

We're so happy that you joined our family two years ago! There are many gifts that you share with our family and those around you: you have a deep concern for others when they're in need-- the other week when your mom got a blister, you spent the whole week asking whether she was “All better?” each time only relaxing once you were assured that she is just fine. You love to share things that you really enjoy-- today when you were having a fun time pretending to eat a block, you really wanted your dad to enjoy pretending to eat one too. You have a deep love for your friends and family members: there is no time that excites you quite as much as when you get to see your Baba and Dziadzus. You notice all sort of beauty around you-- this morning you ran to your mom and said "Zosia find butterfly!" and led her to the front door, where there was a little moth resting. We never would have noticed it. And you're a gentle and loving big sister: you squeal with excitement each time your sister “Luca” wakes up, you bring her toys and a pacifier when she is crying, and you have loved taking a bath with her the last two days (you even poured water on her to make sure she was clean). We really couldn't ask for a more sweet little daughter.

This year there are many things that you have learned: you have learned to walk, to talk, to run, to read books (with your mom and dads help), to sit in a chair, to sing, to dance, to blow out birthday candles, to count (to 17 one time!), to finish nursery rhymes, to give hugs and kisses, to help to unload the dishwasher, to set the table, to cook with your mommy, and to be a big sister. You're quite a skilled little girl! Your favorite foods are apples, cereal with milk, sprinkle toast, raisins, and you requested chocolate cake for your birthday. You love taking walks to visit your friends and have really delighted in spending time with friends-- especially neighbors and your cousins. You just went in a sprinkler this past week, and you loved it. We have been reading you “Misty of Chincoteague,” and even though there are parts that you don't understand yet, you still enjoy it. And you love getting dressed up in silly things-- butterfly wings, cloths that cover your head, funny hats.

We hope you have a very special year filled with lots of beauty and excitement. We can't wait to spend it with you!


Your Mommy and Daddy

Oatmeal Bread

Annie asked for my oatmeal bread recipe, so here it is, dug up from an old blog entry. I love this recipe because it is versatile (you can substitute in whole wheat flour, add extras like flax meal or wheat germ, and the bread seems to turn out just fine) and makes great toast and sandwich bread.

Anyway, here is this week's bread recipe, courtesy of More with Less*. I substitute in a little extra whole wheat flour for the white flour:

Oatmeal Bread
Makes 2 loaves
350 degrees
30-40 min

Combine in a large bowl:
1 c. quick oats
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. salt
2 T. butter

Pour over:
2 c. boiling water
Stir in to combine.

1 pkg. (or 2 1/4 t.) yeast in
1/2 c. warm water

When batter is cooled to lukewarm, add yeast.
Stir in:
5 c. white flour
When dough is stiff enough to handle turn onto floured board and knead 5-10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. Punch down and let rise again. Shape into 2 loaves (which, I learned from Irene, means: roll out into a long thin strip that's as wide as your bread pan and roll up from one short end to the other) and place in greased 9 by 5 by 3" pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Cool on rack, brushing loaves with butter for a soft crust.

Recipe by Ella Rohrer, Orrville, Ohio and Carol ann Maust, Upland, California.

Happy baking! May your loaves be like manna from heaven.

*Longacre, Doris Janzen. "More-with-less Cookbook." Herald Press, Scottdale, Pennsylvania, 1976.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Eat it!

Zosia is turning two tomorrow. Her birthday, it appears, will be celebrated along many lily pads of family celebrations. We celebrated with my parents last weekend, before they left for their vacation. We will have our own special nuclear family celebration tomorrow. Next weekend we will have ice cream at the playground for neighborhood families, and then finally we will celebrate with Ben's family (along with a couple of other birthdays) in September. So I can understand why the whole birthday thing seems a little confusing. Is it a day? A season? Each celebration, I must add, will be of utmost simplicity... no moon bounces, clowns, entertainers. Just gatherings of loved ones and maybe a little treat.... which has not escaped Zosia.

Lately Zosia has been mentioning her birthday with increasing frequency. "Birthday coming up!" she'll exclaim, somewhat randomly, throughout the day. It's so cute to think that she has some notion of what's coming up. We will often try to engage her in conversation about it. So yesterday I said something like, "Yes, Zosia, it is coming up. What are we going to do on your birthday?" To which she, without a moment's hesitation, replied, "Eat it!"

After a moment of thinking about it, I realized that in her mind, the only notable thing about a birthday is the cake, and birthday is therefore synonymous with birthday cake.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thrifting it up

We are very lucky to have an amazing thrift store up the street. Totally amazing: the size of a warehouse, with everything from knickknacks to books to clothes and furniture, and all reasonably priced, and with the most uncool cool name: Unique. It's dangerous for me to go there. But (luckily or unluckily, I don't know), it's one of the few places that I can only go alone. Ben likes things from thrift stores, but isn't much into going to them. And taking kiddos would just be too much-- especially in a place where you have to wade through stuff to find the treasures.

This weekend I ventured out in hopes of getting something for Zosia's birthday-- a trike, specifically. But after an hour of carefully looking through thousands of items, wading through poop (not normally part of the experience... it seems that some toddler just had an accident in the toy aisle), and getting help pulling things down from very tall shelves, here are a few of the things I came up with:

A bag of smooth stones:
A wooden truck:
A pair of rain boots, which, incidentally, have not come off since I brought them home:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Our Creations

Zosia and I have been hard at work the past couple of days. Here are some of the fruits of our labor:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Two Fetishes

You know what it's like right after you have a baby. Your house is filled with stuff. Large, colorful, fluffy stuff. Everyday you are receiving packages and gifts of other large colorful fluffy stuff. Stuff that you are deeply grateful for, that you will use until it's worn to pieces, but that nevertheless accumulates in your home with a frightening speed.

After Zosia was born, we were surprised to receive a very small box in the mail from Ben's beloved Aunt and Uncle-- definitely not your everyday baby gift. My surprise was compounded when I opened the box to find a "list of fetishes." Now, I'll pause here to explain that English is not, technically, my first language (the first three years of my life were spent speaking Polish). So, there are various idioms/nuances of the language which, and I blame my Polish-speaking upbringing, I don't grasp. Perhaps if I had paid a little better attention in my humanities class, I would have learned that the primary meaning of "fetish" is actually " an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency." But, given the fact that my knowledge of the English language was primarily acquired through cultural references, I did not know this. So, now both scandalized and shocked that someone would give my daughter a "list of fetishes" in a small box, I lifted the folded list to find a small stone raccoon staring back at me.

And a small card. Explaining, "The Zuni people are world-renowned for their fetishes. They believe that the power of a fetish comes from the power of the animal that resides in the carving. They also believe that abundance and fertility are blessings a fetish can ensure and they not only protect an individual but the community as well." Aha. Mystery solved.

Over the last two years, Zosia's fetish has become a very sacred object in the house (the fact that this small figure even made it from our move from Boston, to our temporary house, to our current house is testament to the fact that we treat it with reverence). I was delighted when the same beloved Aunt and Uncle came to visit and had another small box with another small fetish-- this one a bear-- for Lily. Here are the meanings behind each:

raccoon: Transforming into our desired self, dexterity, disguise.
bear: Healing, strength, transitional courage, introspection, power of the soul.

My experience thus far with parenting has been that it's easy to get sucked into the practical day-to-day stuff without pausing to make room for the sacred. Dinner has to get made, diapers have to get changed, but rites of passage can wait. These fetishes have been a welcome little sacred pause. I hope that one day each of our girls can venture out into the world with their fetish tucked into their pocket, or placed gently on their dresser, or whatever, knowing that they have a special place not only in our family, but in the world.

What are your sacred rites of passage/introduction? How do you carve out space for the sacred in your home?

Quotable Sunday

There is a magic in that little world, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits."
-- Robert Southey

Friday, August 14, 2009

On my Nightstand

No serious reading material, as you can tell. The Joyful Community is about an intentional Christian community-- I've read it before, but before the kids, so I now have new eyes for how their community works. Then there's a montessori book, a massage book (for adults, not babies... a wonderful excuse to exchange massages each night), my journal, and a baby yoga book.

What are you reading? Any recommendations?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Bare Minimum

Since the birth of Lily, we have been in a quest for finding the "bare minimum" necessary to keep things going around here. At first it was really minimal-- something to the tune of "keep everyone clothed, fed, and alive." There were days when even those did not get accomplished (clothed and fed... not the alive part, except for my poor houseplants, may they rest in peace). These days we've been able to up the ante just a little bit. I actually got complimented by Ben yesterday for keeping the house pretty clean the last few weeks (Really? Clearly he has not been closely examining the bathroom).

At this particular moment I feel pretty good about the state of the home when:
  • I get myself and Zosia dressed before Lily wakes up
  • I vacuum the living/dining room in the morning (so I don't feel guilty plopping Lily on our doghair covered floor)-- and this is a good one, because it forces me to pick up the masses of toys that have accumulated on the floor
  • I unload/load and run the dishwasher in the morning
  • I make our bed
  • I make dinner before Ben gets home
  • I clean up after dinner immediately after dinner/as I go
That's about it. While it may not seem like a lot, it sort of keeps the house running. Notice that many things, like laundry, cleaning the kids rooms, etc. are not on my list. This is not an oversight.

I have found that if I get the above things done, I'm generally done with home stuff when the kiddos go to bed and the house is in reasonable order. So on a day like yesterday, when I came back out into the living room after feeding Lily and putting her down, Ben had lit a few candles and it looked amazing. And I could just sit down and be present to him and feel decent about are humble abode. Ahh.

What are your bare minimums?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Celebrating Babyness

When Zosia was a baby, we were very eager to sort of "get on with things." We fed her solids as soon as possible, we sat her up in a stroller as soon as possible, we had her up on her feet so she could walk as soon as possible. We were pretty ready for her to turn into a toddler.

A funny thing has been happening with Lily. That sense of urgency has sort of disappeared. This week we have come to the realization that Lily is probably teething, and I for one was totally shocked because I still think of her and treat her like a complete newborn. And I don't mind that she is a baby. I actually love it.

There's a bumper crop of babies in the neighborhood, and where I think that some moms are excited for their kiddos to hit the "milestones," I'm surprisingly laid back this time around. Are we feeding Lily solids? Nope. Is she sitting up? Nope. Is she rolling over? Nope. She's just a baby. And we love her being just a baby.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Natural Toys

I love visiting historic places with Zosia. One thing about them is they often have lovely handmade children's toys that are fascinating to her-- hammers and peg boards, wheelbarrows, little wooden swings. She seems to love the natural textures and feels of these toys, which makes me wish that I could integrate more of them into my own household.

We are huge on hand-me-down toys. I will not turn down a toy based on the fact that it is plastic, squeaks, or involves electronics. But, I will admit, not only do those toys get on my nerves, but they're sort of an eye sore. I hope that both Zosia and Lily grow up with an appreciation of nature and natural things-- wood, stone, yarn. What better way to do this than to fill their world with beautiful natural things?

We have some wooden toys, and she loves them. As her second birthday is approaching, I'm on the lookout for some more "natural" toys to fill out our collection. I'm not sure quite what yet, but there are lots of ideas floating around: an old-timey trike, a collection of colored spools of thread, a set of plain wooden blocks. We'll see what I can find on craigslist and at the thrift store.

In the mean time, does anyone out there have ideas for natural kids toys? Have you seen anything interesting or creative out there?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Empty Tank

A friend just reminded me of that scene in a Seinfeld episode where Kramer is driving on an empty tank and gets hooked on the thrill of it. That's how I feel this week, but with groceries. We are not doing groceries this week. We're just skipping them. Which should actually be surprisingly okay, I think. The truth is that over the last several weeks, we have gathered up several pantry items, we still have a few frozen meals from our pre-birth preparation, and we inherited a bunch of veggies from friends who are out of town for a few weeks. Plus we picked up a couple of fruits/veggies at the farmers market. And we were low on milk on Saturday so Ben picked some up.

I have promised that if we run out of bread I will actually make some, and my contingency plan is that if we run out of food we're showing up at some unsuspecting friends/family member's house to bum off of them. It feels a little crazy, especially for someone who's been doing regular weekly grocery trips (with a meal plan in hand) for years now. But I'm liking the thrill of it! And I'll let you know if any crazy meals result from this experiment.

And now I'm off to try to lie down for a bit while my mother's helper is still here and Lily is taking a nap. Since when is waking up every two hours an appropriate course of action for a baby? Especially one who's been "sleeping through the night" for weeks now? Argh.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Quotable Sunday

"Hands to work, hearts to God." -Shaker Axiom

I'm a W-O-M-A-N

Whew! It's been one of those weekends after which I am left feeling slightly overwhelmed. One thing I've noticed is that it's totally possible to do lots of stuff with kids. The one trick is that it can be a little exhausting. So, after a night of many wakings, a weekend of many events, many giggles, and many tantrums, I am left surprised that I am still ticking, that I didn't just somehow expire amid all of the excitement.

Here's my inspiration for the day:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Summer Daytrips

Zosia's first "train" ride. She was soooo excited.
Taking a carousel ride with dad:
More to come!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Extreme Make-under

I am undergoing a transformation. No, it is not one of those snazzy makeovers complete with shopping spree. Because here's the thing: I have realized that it is totally not worth it to try so hard. It's not worth it to try to make your hair perfect. It's not worth it to try to dress perfectly. It's not worth it to try to be so put together. Forget make-over. I'm doing a make-under.

Historically, I like to be put together. My sister tells the story of arriving a couple hours after Zosia's birth expecting to see a tired, haggard mother. But I was sitting there, made up, dressed in nice clothes, smiling with my baby. Well, I'm turning over a new leaf.

It started with my hair. Since middle school, I have been a blow-dryer. Those of you with fussy hair know the significance of this. Your hair simply must be blowdried (even straightened during certain periods of time-- can't quite imagine that now). Well, slightly after Lily was born, I gave not blowdrying a try. I simply took a shower in the evening, slept on it wet, and brushed it out in the morning. And? I actually liked it. I even got compliments on it! It was fuller and wavier than if I blowdried it, and saved me the effort. That was the first step in my make-under. These days, no blowdryer necessary, which saves me time, and I think will probably be good for my hair in the long run.

Second step? Eliminating foundation. Those total natural beauty-types out there will cringe at the thought of ever wearing foundation, but I will admit, I wore it. I even felt naked without it for the first week or so. But, after a few days, I felt like my skin was clearer and happier. And that cut down my make-up routine to a few easy steps.

Third step was the yoga pants. I have historically been a skirt and peasant top sort of person, but have recently felt like "dressing up" has inhibited me from getting down to play with the kids. So I caved and bought a second pair of yoga pants and some nursing tops. It feels kind of funny to go somewhere like the library and notice that I'm wearing the same thing as all the other moms out there. But I guess there's a reason-- it's practical, and comfortable. And for reasons unbeknownced to me (I will never understand men), Ben thinks it's cute, too.

Final step, although this is a tenuous one, is eliminating make-up. I'm not a militant no-make up person, and probably never will be. I love concealer. I also love mascara. But should I really feel like I need to have make-up on in order to be presentable? Is there anything wrong with my own skin, my own eyelashes, my own face? So this week I experimented with wearing no make-up. At first you feel like someone is going to stop you and say, "Excuse me, but you forgot your face" or something. But, in all honesty, no one seems to notice (which makes you wonder, why on earth did I spend all that time and money over all of those years?).

So, things are changing around here. Before you know it I'll be one of those people nominated for the make-overs! (maybe that should be my goal) I'm still open to dressing up and putting on make-up-- I actually like both of those things and am sure I'll do them from time to time on either a special occasion or just because. I'm sure some women will say that actually taking the time to get dressed up and made up makes them feel more happy. But for me, feeling totally comfortable in my own skin and body is nice. And surprisingly new.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Repurposed Bookshelf

Thanks to a tip from our friend Carolyn, I have re-purposed a standing bookshelf that we no longer have space for as a reading bench for Z. She loves it, and it fits perfectly under the window in her room. So far there is a lot of standing, lying, and playing that goes on the bench. With time I'm hoping that the reading will happen. There is, however, lots of reading that happens on the love seat in the living room. As you can see from this picture of Zosia (and if you look closely you can see Lily, who has been given a toy by Zosia).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Evening Reclaimed

We have reached a major milestone! Lily now goes to bed early (7:30 verses 9:00)! She now takes two naps instead of three, and if we keep her up an extra little bit, then we can just put her to bed a bit before Zosia. So, this is huge for a couple of reasons:
  • we now actually have a real "evening," as opposed to putting Lily down at around 9:30, then going to bed around 10 or 11.
  • Lily is awake for longer periods of time, which means that we get to see more of her smiling face in the evening, but also that it should be easier to either go places with her in the evening, or leave her with a family member while we go out for a walk or dinner.
Last night was the first real try at this, and so far it has worked like a champ-- Lily is still asleep, meaning that she didn't get up any earlier than usual. Whew!

Now on to the next goal of actually going on dates with my husband. Slowly but surely, we're getting there!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Photo Updates

To those of you in other parts of the country, yes, it is summer here in Virginia. But who can resist a brand new hand-me-down hat? Definitely not Zosia, who spent all of yesterday's beautiful summer day wearing her new "little bear" hat and jacket.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Finding Perfection

I have, thanks to a book lent from a good friend, ventured into the world of baby yoga. Lily loves it-- it's mostly just doing fun and silly things with their bodies, but I imagine that it feels good. Ben rolls his eyes at the whole thing (to which I say, "at least I'm still using SHAMPOO, buddy"), but I really love the way that it adds a dimension of creativity to my one-on-one time with Lily, which is special because she just doesn't get as much of it as Zosia did as a baby.

Aside from illustrating various poses, our baby yoga book offers some parenting mantras. I think that as a mom of little ones, we're so often consumed by the daily business of caring for our babies' bodies, teaching them, etc. that we don't pause to think about some of the bigger picture issues, and don't stop to refuel and regroup. So, anyway, one of these mantras is

"I am the perfect parent for my baby. My baby is the perfect baby for me."

As I read the mantra, I had this immediate reaction that was something to the tune of, "Yeah, right!" I mean, I feel so far from being perfect-- I'm constantly learning new things from other parents, am constantly noticing ways that I fail to be patient, fail to be present, fail to be loving. But hypnobirthing has taught me that imagining a positive outcome so often actually precipitates one, that I'm open to the possibility of this parenting mantra. I mean, for some reason these two particular little babies, chosen from all of the babies out there, have been entrusted to my care. There must be some perfection in that, right?

Which I'm trying to remember in this moment. As I feel guilty for sitting downstairs typing, as I hear my dear husband pacing upstairs putting the baby to sleep-- who had fallen asleep on the car ride home from her cousin's house, but became wide awake the second we pulled into our driveway-- and has been waking her big sister up in the process. Somehow, even amid all of this, there is perfection.

I am the perfect parent for Lily. Lily is the perfect baby for me.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

TV Expanded

I've discussed TV here before. All in all, our family is a non-tv family, especially in summer. But, there are totally exceptions. Like occasionally on a Saturday night when Ben and I want to watch something interesting, like Independent Lens. Or, I'll admit, I'm a sucker for Antiques Roadshow. And from time to time, it's nice to be able to show Zosia an episode of Sesame Street for a bit of a distraction. As you can see, just about all of our television favorites are on public television, so we were more than a little bummed when our tv provider stopped showing two of the three pbs stations. Given the fact that we only had about five stations besides these pbs stations, it was a serious blow. As we investigated options of getting our precious pbs stations back, we realized that if we switched from COX to Verizon's fios, we would be paying about the same amount of money for the same phone service, better internet, and much better tv.

Yesterday the fios guy arrived to hook everything up, and after hours of drilling and pulling wires and getting everything to my techie husband's liking, Ben and I sat infront of the tv trying to figure everything out. So aparently we get, like, hundreds of stations now. Ben and I sat with our jaws dropped for 20 minutes trying to figure out how to change channels, noticing that we now get a paralyizingly large array of shows and movies, and wondering how on God's green earth we will ever be able to pick anything, let alone even know what is being shown on TV at any given time.

Ultimately, we both became overwhelmed, and left without watching anything. I guess that 300 choices is a little too much when you're used to 3. I am definitely excited that, at least for now, we appear to get the Sundance Channel and the Independent Film Channel, along with the cooking network, and, thankfully, all three PBS stations (plus several more that I didn't even realize existed). And, there are something like 15 of those religious stations, including BYU tv, EWTN, and hopefully lots of televangelists-- maybe it's the theology student in me that can't get enough of these (did I ever tell you about the time I actually went to see Benny Hinn in person? Totally great.).

I'm remaining optimistic that the new array of choices will not influence our TV viewing at all. But who am I kidding? I'm already on the lookout for toddler yoga and something interesting to watch tonight.