Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In the Kitchen




This mild weather has had me in the kitchen-- roasting chicken, baking bread, and inviting not one but two little bodies up to the counter to help: it's a bit of an initiation for Lily, who has never really successfully participated in any of our kitchen antics. And she did very well, thank you very much. After all, a little raw bread dough is good for the countenance, right? (I eventually wisened up and introduced some goldfish for the kids to snack on... even this mom has her limits.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wreaths

I grew up celebrating Wianki; the Festival of Wreaths. Every summer solstice, Polish people gather, dance, eat, and create beautiful flowered wreaths. Candles are placed on the wreaths, the wreaths are placed on water, sent to sail. I've heard different stories about the meaning and origin of the ceremony; my favorite that maidens would send out their unique wreaths out onto the nearest lake, and the man who found their wreath across the river could claim their hand in marriage. But it is an amazing ritual of beauty, creation, and release-- mimicking the extravagance of the season we now find ourselves in.

I celebrated it once with some beloved friends at a lake in Canada (photo above). We picked wildflowers, read some prayers, sent out our wreaths onto a still and majestic sunset. And I hope my children will grow up with memories of their own wianki, which brings me to Saturday night.

We loaded the car with our children and picnic blankets, headed into the city for the highly anticipated night. We found our way to the spot where Polish people in this area celebrate wianki, a reflecting pool right at the foot of the capitol.

But as we parked our car and got out, we were astonished to find that the basin had been drained-- bone dry, with some mud at the bottom, but not a drop of water.

And I know I'm an adult, I shouldn't let such things get to me. As you can tell, the kids didn't seem to mind one bit. But where was the water? How could we set our wreaths sailing in a dry basin? Ben and I laughed out loud. There were people, wreaths, beautiful traditional polish costumes and dancing, but no water.

My unease lingered. And only with time did I realize the meaning of the whole thing. Because how can you set anything to sail without deep, ample water? How often has my own spirit been bone-dry, parched, empty? Longing for living water and yet trying to set hopes and ideas to sail in vain?

I certainly hope to have many memorable wiankis-- beautiful ceremonies with song, dance, magnificent sunsets, and beautifully lit wreaths. But I also hope I will remember this one. The dry basin, our beautiful wreaths, and a thirst for water.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two Pigtails

Pigtails feel like a rite of passage around here. As I go through baby pictures, pigtails are a benchmark. There's bald, then fuzzy, then some short hair and then there are pigtails. They appear right around the time that personality forms, that individuality is asserted, right around the time that babies become mobile and self-assured and independent. They may be there in one picture and mysteriously missing in the next-- a mark of an emerging toddler that has developed some aesthetic preferences. Or there's the single "poof" pigtail, a compromise that seemed to please mother and baby alike-- not quite your conventional pigtails, but a step in that direction.

Well, as with most things, I have found that with this second precious child in our home I am much less eager to reach those milestones. I am happy to savor those sweet baby curls that are growing down her back; shudder to think of altering something so beautiful and delicate.

But that second baby of mine has sharp eyes and a keen sense of what defines toddlerhood. She watches her sister with eagle eyes, and mimics perfectly; climbing to the dinner table and drinking from an adult cup, pushing a stroller with a baby in it, wiping her ice-cream covered face with a napkin just like sister. And so when she saw Zosia climb up on top of the toilet for me to fix her hair, she followed suit, going as far as taking two hair elastics and pushing them into my hand, emphatically gesturing towards her head with a few grunts.

And so somehow, we have arrived here. Fourteen months, two pigtails, and one proud baby.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tomato Season...


is coming! I'm quite excited, having been out of the home-grown-tomato circuit for a couple of years now. With tomatoes growing, it must truly be summer (this 95 degree heat certainly has me thinking so, too).

How are your garden adventures going?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Elephant

This is Zosia's rendition of an elephant. And her first depiction of an animal form. I suppose when you're not yet three you see the world in such shapes. I love everything about it: the circles for feet, the colored in oval for a body, the long spindly trunk. Oh, I just look at it and beam.

A Father's Love


I couldn't help but share this picture: which is what I found when I walked into my living room yesterday afternoon. I hope all the father's out there had a wonderful weekend-- and that our gratitude will spill over into the rest of the year, too.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Peace Rituals


Whew! Has it really been almost a week since I've been in this space? Summer has a way of bringing in all sorts of currents of energy-- outdoor energy, creative energy, the energy of change (not to mention barbecuing energy, swimming energy, playing energy) . And I can sometimes get swept away by it all and find myself feeling absolutely pooped at week's end.

I have been trying to cultivate a sense of peace and presence amid such activity (above, my new morning ritual, complete with cup of coffee), and am finding myself yearning to create new grounding practices. I remember one summer, when I was newly in love with Ben, sitting outside at each dusk and drinking a cup of peppermint tea-- it was just the perfect way to breathe and return to center.

Now how will I do it today?

Or, better yet, how did you do it today?

Monday, June 14, 2010

This Saturday: the people

What's so amazing to me about each time that we get together with our families is the sheer quantity of love that exists in that gathering.

There's grandma love (one of the world's most powerful loves, I have learned)...

which can come from a grandma or those that are like a grandma:

Kissy-kissy love (discovered by our two year old at the pool yesterday, I'll have you know. Kissing a three year old named Angelo. Can you believe it?):

Daddy and Mommy love:

Aunt and Uncle love:

(that's my Aunt Basia, celebrating 60 tears of joy and life)

Sister love (my mom busting a gut laughing... a classic sight in our family):

Make that many generations of sister love (not even counting the budding love between Zosia and Lily):

And then the sheer love of life. That's Basia dancing...

to this (a gentleman who has played wine glasses in Alexandria since Ben and I were children):

And Zosia pretending to be a pirate. Pretty scary, don't you think?


Being surrounded by such love: what a joy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Our Saturday : The Place

I'm just sure some of you can figure out where we spent yesterday morning. Any guesses?

And coming tomorrow, the people we spent it with...

Friday, June 11, 2010

June 11: This Moment


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. ~Amanda Soule

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 8: In Search of Summer

What would summer be without a dip in some cool water? Especially in muggy, humid Virginia, it is quite transformative to have a shady, close-by place where you can go for a quick dip.

I will not lie: I have been frequenting the pool just about every single day with my two wee ones. They love it, we all cool down, it's a wonderful way to pass a couple of hours, and it tires us all out (in the best way possible). One day we'll live next to a flowing river, or beautiful lake, or (can you imagine?) expansive ocean. But I'm not holding my breath: in the mean time, I'm just as happy to stroll down to the pool and enjoy one of summer's treats.

Searching for summer has been lovely-- and I do hope you will check to see what others have found through the button to the right. I feel like I have found it here. What about you?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 6: In Search of Summer

Oh yes, now I remember it: long summer afternoons spent with family and friends, food grilling, children playing, adults chatting. I remember it from my own childhood, and now I am acquainted with it on the other end of things: losing track of my children for hours at a time but knowing full well they are safely playing with friends and cousins and aunts and grandparents; bringing a change of clothes because inevitably there will be a sprinkler or mud or cupcakes to smear on one's face; children and parents sleeping oh so deeply out of sheer physical exhaustion. The past two weeks we have lived out of our home, hopping from one get-together to the next, landing softly among friends and good food. It has been wonderfully exhilarating. Summer is truly here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 4: In Search of Summer

Strawberries are coming in! We have limited garden space this year, and an ever-bearing strawberry variety, which means that we have strawberries all summer long, but in smaller quantities. Which has created a bit of a challenge. This is what it has come to in my family: you must "call dibs" on a strawberry if you hope to eat it. I have sat back and let the smaller (and larger) members of the family have the first few, but when I saw this beauty, I knew it was meant for me. It became "mama's strawberry," which I reminded everyone whenever we checked on it.

And oh, it was delicious! Much sweeter than any strawberry from the grocery store and perfectly ripe. But, to show that I am a kind person at heart, you can see the other family members had some treats to enjoy too.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2: In Search of Summer


Yesterday at the library, my curiosity was piqued when I saw a woman with a beautiful long linen dress and colorful headscarf slowly walking around a tree, picking at the branches. We walked closer, and noticed what the procession was all about: not one, but two mulberry trees (one with dark berries, the other white) filled with ripe plump berries. Of course, we joined in the fun.

By sheer force of will, I even managed to bring some berries home. As you can see, there was a bit of a weak link in our berry picking infrastructure (aka: Lily). I imagine these berries will get eaten straight from the basket. But, if I go back in the next few days and manage to get some for the keeping, I would love to make this, from Simply in Season (my favorite cookbook yet):

Mulberry Pudding Cake

4 cups mulberries
Spread in a greased and floured 9 X 9 baking pan

2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
Combine and sprinkle over fruit

1/3-1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in egg and vanilla.

1 cup flour (part or all whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Beat well. Drop batter by spoonfuls over the fruit and spread evenly (fruit may not be fully covered). Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or frozen yogurt.