Friday, April 29, 2011

Nesting Perspective

I think it would be safe to say that these past few weeks have found me nesting. Ben comes home to a house that has been rearranged-- by a woman who is 8 months pregnant.

There has been getting ready for the baby. But then there has been a drastic reorganization of storage space, closets, play areas. And the miraculous thing is that through all of it, I have felt great: energetic, excited, accomplished.

And then there was this morning: running around town with two little girls trying to take care of everything and everyone, coming home (more like collapsing home), and realizing that the time has come to slow down. There is still time to do those odds and ends that need to get done. Things are still partially in that "it's going to look worse before it looks better" stage, but for now my top priorities are taking care of my family and keeping the household running. That's all.

There's a french expression that goes "petit a petit, l'oiseau fait son nid," which translates, "little by little, the bird builds its nest." I think I'm starting to understand the wisdom behind those words! Little by little, and everything in time will get done.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Buttercup Bloom

We stumbled upon the field when I was twelve. Not quite eleven, but with something of the same self assurance, unassuming beauty, wide smile. I have a picture of myself in front of an old tree, doing a handstand, surrounded by buttercups.

I notice a buttercup in the grass yesterday while my girls wait at the schoolbus stop. Of course no one in our family rides the schoolbus yet, but the girls love waiting, expectantly, for all the kids to hop off. While we wait, Zosia digs up worms with a friend. I see the buttercup and think, "It's time."

We hop across town to that same field this morning. I remember going back as a teenager with Ben. We would take a picnic blanket and steal kisses and tender moments in those buttercups. I no longer had the confident stride of a girl-- there had been sadness, heartbreak, insecurity. But I was with Ben. We were on the cusp of adulthood but couldn't even imagine what beauty and freedom awaited us.

And now, with these two little girls. We read the Brothers' Grimm Hansel and Gretel on a blanket. I can't help but wonder what joys, trials, experiences await them between buttercup blooms.

They shriek and run, turn back towards me when the wind whips up and I shelter them in our blanket. And the world does feel steady under my feet as I hold those two warm bodies close to my own, recognizing my own face in their smiles.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Toddler's View

Just another ordinary morning in these parts, as captured by our budding almost 4 year old photographer.

Selma resting. She's so good that that.

Me resting. I'm not so good at that, but learning.

And little children playing at my feet, which I must say, makes the most lovely entertainment.

I thought this was just a perfect poem for Good Friday, I hope you'll take a look. "God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Turning Two, A Dollhouse, Strawberry Cookies

Our little Lily is two. My, how the time flies! It seems just yesterday she was turning one, spending the day in the dentist's office getting a badly chipped tooth pulled (ouch!). And could it really be two years since that morning that she entered the world so peacefully?

I am quite happy to report (as those of you who love Lily know) that this girl has quite the spunk to complement her more introspective side. And you really need that around here, you know?

(Lily thinks it's so funny that the mommy is sitting on the toilet. Isn't two a little young for the potty humor to start? Here we go!)

When I asked Lily what she wanted for her birthday, she made two things perfectly clear: strawberry cookies and toys (who's ever heard of strawberry cookies?). And after many a playdate of watching her delicately and thoughtfully play with another child's dollhouse, we decided this just might be the year for a dollhouse for the family. After quite a bit of deliberation (does such a simple decision really need to be so hard? I suppose in a family where new toys are very rarely purchased, it does), we decided on a nice neutral dollhouse that leaves plenty of room for the imagination.

She really does love it, and does the silliest things like putting the Daddy in the refrigerator or turning the bookshelf into an exam table (all the while with an orderly sister reminding her of each item's "proper use," of course). I love our sweet Lily's imagination.

And for the cookies we settled on a gluten free strawberry linzer cookie. I am generally a woman who believes that dessert is meant to be indulgent, but with Ben's little gluten free trial underway, I knew I had to accommodate "the boss" as he's affectionately called. I felt like I was betraying myself while I was adding things like garbanzo flour and agave nectar to a dessert, but you know what? In the end, they taste delicious.

Happy Birthday, Lily! You're just a doll, and we absolutely adore you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Metaphors

You know when you're immersed in the world of small children, there's little bits of knowledge you pick up along the way-- from a friend, from a book, from a blog-- and they just sort of sink in and become a part of what you know, deep down, to be true? Somewhere along the way I absorbed the information that there is great value in small children being immersed in the natural world. Observing things outside, talking about things outside, studying the natural world. There are so many reasons: there is beauty, wisdom, knowledge to be obtained. It is fun. But this is the one that really sticks with me: the entirety of the natural world is a metaphor, a beautiful story of our own relationship with the divine. Every animal, plant, particle in the universe gives testament to our own sacred origins, our purpose, and our destiny.

We are entering the most holy days of the year, the preparation for the Resurrection that altered everything about life as we know it. And in our household one precarious toddler is making sure that we spend plenty of time talking about Jesus, the cross, the stone being rolled away from the tomb. But we are also reading about eggs and caterpillars, marveling at the fact that the great Creator surrounded us with reminders and metaphors for the greatest transformation of all. There will come a time when it all clicks with our little ones: when they understand that all of this wonder is pointing towards something greater. But for now, we are happy for a caterpillar to be a caterpillar, an egg to be an egg, and for God to do the rest of the work in due time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Cleaning: A Tidy Workspace

I am not an experienced homemaker. I do like it tidy, but when it comes to the ins and outs of keeping a household running, I'm still a freshman. Just the other day I became acquainted with the concept of a "hot spot." The idea is that there are certain areas in your house that, when left unattended, tend towards chaos and clutter. I can name the hot spots in my house off the top of my head. The dresser by the entryway. The dresser in Ben and my bedroom. And then there's the workspace in our kitchen. Part desk, part landing pad for groceries, part food prep area (our kitchen is just about 10' by 10', so you get the idea: there's a lot of multipurpose space). And this morning I finally got around to tackling this hot spot. Now, there is the netbook, a basket with clean washcloths, and a notepad with a container of pens. No longer will my business cards be used for grocery lists!

Maybe if the thrift store gods find me favorable, I'll even score some spice containers one day to streamline the unorganized spice rack. In the mean time, I'm just happy to be moving in the right direction. Next up: the closets.

Where does your Easter cleaning find you?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Last Year's Growth

I haven't gotten around to planning the garden yet. By the summer, there will be tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, and, if we can get around to building another raised bed, hopefully more. But for now, the garden is as it was left last summer, albeit a pitiful neglected version of itself. So when Zosia and I headed over to see what is what and noticed that our spinach plants not only survived the winter, but are in full yield, it was a surprise to say the least. And, if that's not miracle enough, the bunnies hadn't gnawed them down to the root, either.

Zosia cut each spinach leaf with such care, talking about how she is "a farmer" under her breath.

The before dinner grab. Do you know this one in your household, too?

Dinner was such a wonderful summertime prelude. Spinach, mixed greens, tomatoes, some leftover chicken from last night and red onions tossed with Goddess dressing and corn on the cob. Ben's trying to be gluten free for a couple of weeks to how he feels, so for breakfast and dinner, we're along for the ride with him. So far, so good. Lunch seems to be the tricky part for me. Any suggestions out there?

I wish I could say Lily's delight is purely from eating fresh seasonal greens, but she's actually talking about how she wants "Cookies, cakes, and toys" for her birthday this week. Certainly reason enough to smile, if you ask me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dinner Outside

This is one of my favorite things about the warmer months. There is something so simple and relaxed about eating together outside, whether on a picnic blanket or on the deck. And, from the perspective of the homemaker, clean up is a snap because I know that creatures both big and small will take care of the crumbs.

Tonight's menu: fried egg sandwiches (on Ezekiel 4:9 bread: yum!), salad (with mixed greens, avocado and red onion), sponge cake with strawberries for dessert, and a full glass of milk for everyone. And only slight modifications for the kids: egg, sliced avocado, apples with peanut butter, and half a quesadilla.

What changes do the warmer months bring to your kitchen?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fairy Houses and Smoothies

Isn't it amazing how much little hands can make? This afternoon's adventure: fairy houses, complete with flowers, little beds made from tissue, and a jelly bean each.

You know, the strangest thing happened: I turned my head for one second, and those jelly beans had disappeared! I tell you, those fairies were hungry.

And for the rest of us, a lovely smoothie for lunch.

Today's recipe, as dictated by chef Zosia's whims, was about half a cup of frozen berries, a chopped up frozen mango, a banana, a cup of milk, a third cup of dried milk (which adds great protein for growing children inside and outside of the womb), and a drizzle of honey. Yum!

Monday, April 11, 2011

At the Cousins'

My children have the exquisite joy of being raised in a family with many cousins (and many more on the way, if you ask my prediction). There is, in their mind, quite simply no one in the world as wonderful as a cousin. Cousins are a class of people unto themselves, and having the chance to spend the last several days with a batch of cousins we rarely get to see was total bliss. Add in the fact that we absolutely adore their parents, and you have one happy family. There was cooking of incredible food (or eating incredible food, if you're me), relishing the opportunity to ask a mother with 18 years of experience any question on my mind, swapping clothes, and the silliness of two close brothers being together. But really, if you ask the kids, it's all about the cousins.

Above: grooming, watching "Babies" together (Zosia's favorite movie, and an amazing one at that), some salad chopping, and story time by a 6 year old who is an amazing reader.