Thursday, May 31, 2012

Creek Stomping


We are in an adventurous season!  There's little that can't be done with a pair of waterproof shoes and a waterbottle.  This morning, we visited a favorite nature center that we have visited time and time again.  And even though the nature center is pretty fun, we never get far past the creek, where we can play for hours.  Hugo kept me company in the backpack this time around.  And Lily seemed to think it was important to keep her shorts pulled up anytime she was close to the water.  Seems like a good idea, no? Zosia is our nature guide in training, telling us all about animals and plants all around us.  I think we will have to go back next time with bathing suits.  Isn't nature the best playground?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Finding a Summertime Groove

Summertime has officially arrived: preschool is out, the pool is open, and somewhat serendipitously, Hugo has stopped napping in the morning, which means we have huge chunks of time to go on little adventures.  We're just getting back into the swing of what to do in the summer: yesterday, my children spent thirty solid minutes staring adoringly at the swim team practicing (I must admit, it was quite mesmerizing!).  A trip to the petstore is always in order, don't you think?  And up top there's Hugo playing by himself, which must be from several weeks ago, because he seriously has done nothing of the sort this week (teething?  I won't pretend to know).  Zosia and I spent the minutes before the other children woke up this morning brainstorming a list of things we hope to do this summer and I am getting excited!

What new rhythms has your family been following this season?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Red Dress


Thank you, mom, for the red dress!  It fits just perfectly.  My mom is an expert garage sale shopper, and every so often comes home with something that is an instant favorite.  I definitely learned my thrifting skills from her over the years.  I love the frilly cap sleeves, the pleats, and the vintage cut.  Definitely a keeper.  And I didn't even realize it was Pentecost Sunday (and you get extra points for wearing red on Pentecost Sunday, don't you know?)!

There's part of my Sunday entourage.  Hugo, who uses my hair as reins and is my special church buddy, Lily with her fabulous sunglasses, and Zosia who is just plain old cute.  And Ben, who was so busy getting everyone out the door on time that I didn't even have a chance to snap his picture.  But he definitely wins points for cutest of all.

We rode into church on the coattails of Rolling Thunder!  All those bikers look so tough, but they're sweet as can be.  There were tons of families and kids that had gathered on all of the bridges we drove under, and those bikers waved at each and every one.  I love it: it's enough to make a woman tear up.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Baby snuggles

Is it just me, or do baby snuggles get sweeter with each baby in the family?  Maybe it's that as a mom of older kids, you're keenly aware of the fact that the snuggly phase will pass.  Or maybe you've just gotten to enjoy so many over the years that you've developed a real fondness for a cozy warm baby.  The other day, as Ben and I were getting ready for a class I was about to teach (from our home, which requires a bit of prep work, as you can imagine), Hugo expressed the clear desire to be held.  He's usually our super easy independent baby, so I try to indulge him when he needs a little more attention.  The result?  A sling baby who was happy to snuggle up and come along with me as I did my chores.  I think we were both happy with the arrangement.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Happy Day


May is quite the celebratory month around here: Mother's day, our anniversary, and one short day later, my birthday!  Today I was thoroughly surprised with a typewriter from none other than my two girls (of course choreographed by there very sweet daddy).  We were all very excited to put it to use.  I have actually been dreaming about one of these for some time now (although owning one makes me feel a bit like this guy or this guy, or a little like the staff of Deuce Hotel).  It is wonderful to hear a little "click click click" as I go about doing my chores, knowing the girls are practicing their writing.  Too cute.

There's a little "love pile up."  Warning: if you lie down around our house, Hugo will do one of these full body hugs on you.  What can I say?  He's a lover.

And if you squint at that last picture, you can see an assortment of whiskey that I bought for Ben for our anniversary (a typewriter?  whiskey?  What is this, Mad Men?).  I am definitely not a big drinker, but I did my best, and hopefully found some interesting things for him to sip on over the coming year.  You know, sometimes a man needs something manly like whiskey.

I am counting down the hours until we enjoy a chocolate frozen custard cake tonight.  Seven and counting.

I think 29 is going to be a good year... I just have a feeling.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

8 Years, then and now

 (us in 2005, 2007, 2010, and 2012)
It's 8 years ago, and we're basically kids.  We get married the year of the cicada on a hot, humid, and humming May morning.  Barely old enough to legally buy a drink (ahem, perhaps I wasn't quite old enough), and thrilled with the opportunity to play house.  You make meals on the evenings that I get home late from class.  We love flying a kite at Piedmont park and playing board games.  We adopt a puppy and suddenly we really start to feel like a little family.

We finish up college, and are ready for an adventure.  Fast forward one move to Boston later.  We love cooking for friends, going out for walks, and camping.  Life is sweet.  I dream and dream of a baby, and when she comes, spend one full year smiling from ear to ear. You make a wonderful dad.

We move "back home," as our family grows.  A new home, a new job, and two new babies, and we learn all about patience, gentleness, and how to love one another more fully.  Who could imagine the joy these years would hold for us?  We love this little family and are quick to laugh at the silliness that abounds in the life around us.  We love a good family bikeride and a (slightly) competitive crossword puzzle.  We are the best of friends, you and I, and I have never felt lonely in all these years because of it.  

It still sometimes feels like we're playing house, but when I look at you I realize we've matured.  Yes, I think we're adults now, and life is still a wonderful adventure.  I am truly blessed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

From the Phone


Notable events of the last few weeks
:: the pool opened, and we have been loving it, big and little family members included.
::Lily and Zosia went to the dentist, which actually ended up being a lot of fun.  These days there are sunglasses and tvs mounted to the ceiling and a treasure chest.  Zosia is still wearing a fake tattoo she obtained at her visit two plus weeks later.
::There is a couch next to the creek?  I don't know why, but it does not prevent us from enjoying traipsing around in the creek.  I am ever so grateful for little natural places.
::Warm summertime weather has been tempered with chilly days here and there, which has left our drawers full of winter, spring and summer clothing all together.

Zosia and Lily seem to be taking the bulk of my phone photos these days, which is actually nice because they are very meticulous chroniclers of their surroundings.  Thanks, ladies!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy Bike To Work Day

You know we don't technically have a "work" to bike to, but the whole family enjoyed riding down to the local pitstop together on the W&OD and pretending like we did indeed have a work to go to.  And all those bike commuters seemed especially cheery this morning, Ben included.

Anyone else biking to work today?  How did it go?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Place of Quiet


Isn't it true that we all need a place of quiet, where we can relax and nurture ourselves?  I have long known this to be true for myself, and in a home with a growing family, finding this sense of calm and quiet is a moving target.  Sometimes we simply must find a place of quiet in the midst of (often literal) noise.

With the children, I see that they also need such rest.  Perhaps it's becoming totally engrossed in independent play, or listening to a story, or using the tool of imagination to transform their surroundings.  They need it too, even (or especially) when they are surrounded by siblings and friends so often.

Here are some thoughts about finding a quiet place in your own home:

  • Recognize that you can find quiet and calm in every moment.  When you find yourself needing peace, pause and find your breath, and accept the gift of a quiet mind.  It is especially important to do this when things around you feel chaotic.
  • Notice when your children are trying to create quiet moments.  Perhaps you can redirect a sibling to another activity, or postpone the errand you were going to run.  Honor their need for quiet play.  When you notice them seeking out this quiet, do what you can to support it (and recognize that it is entirely possible to be active and quiet... I think often children are most quiet when they're deeply engaged in play).
  • Ensure that both you and your children have significant amounts of unstructured time to enjoy.  Sometimes this will make you feel like a lazy parent, but it really is a good thing!  This is when both the imagination and the human spirit flourish.  Allow yourselves to get a little bored, and that is when the true play begins.
  • Set aside quiet time for yourself.  A walk, a quiet meal, perhaps some vigorous exercise.  Find a way to schedule this in to your day.
  • Teach yourself and your children how to set boundaries in order to find quiet in the midst of abundant life.  I love to be enthusiastically engaged with the children, but there are times that I will gently say, "Not now.  Mommy is reading."  Usually this is a queue for them to go find some wonderful independent play to engage in.  It makes me happy to hear them setting boundaries with one another, too.  I am usually on hand to help them carry through, or help them have some private time in the near future when that's not possible.
  • Choose the family's overall functionality over any single "rule."  My children know they can watch a video or movie in the afternoon, and we all thrive with the break that this provides for us.  There have been days we pile into the car to just take a drive, because we need some quiet time.  A wise mother once taught me of the joys of "a Popsicle and a tub" in the afternoon, which is a trick I also use (believe me, it's a magical combination!).  You get the idea: be flexible and in tune with your family's needs.
  • Find a place to take a nature walk.  It amazes me how being in the "wild" (even when the wild is a corner of a city park or behind the local pool) makes children find a place of quiet.  You take them there, and before you know it, they are stomping through a creek or creating imaginary stories.  Go everyday for a week and find yourself becoming calmer and more centered, too.
  • Create spaces that invite quiet play.  A chair next to a basket of books.  Some wooden train tracks in a container on the floor.  A box of dressup clothing next to a mirror.  
Okay, now comes the fun part.  How do you find a place of quiet in your own home and life?  How do you invite your children to participate?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Strawberries, Dinosaurs, and one cute Baby


Just a few little things that have kept me smiling all week long.

::Strawberries from our garden!  We put these plants in the ground almost exactly three years ago (when Lily was just two weeks old) and this is the first year of a truly bountiful crop.  I'm toying with the idea of making strawberry shortcake, but they just taste so good plain it's difficult to save them!

::I love this man (at Mad Fox, where we took our moms out for a mother's day dinner).

::I adore this moment I observed the girls.  Everything about it.  Each child in her own costume, engaged in her own quiet play.  I love that I can walk into my living room and just find a dinosaur and prairie girl reading a book.  These are good times.

::I officially would like to bottle up this baby and keep him just as he is forever.  He. is. so. cute.  I am glad he is my own, because otherwise I would have to kidnap him.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Well, I hope you all had a wonderful day.  To all the ladies out there who are mothers in one form or another (and thinking through all the women I know, I can't think of a single one who isn't) Happy Mother's Day.  My day has been quite sweet with lots of little presents ranging from getting sent back to bed so I could be surprised with a proper breakfast in bed to being allowed to lay out in the sun at the pool (and listening to a homily about how motherhood is one of the most accurate analogies for the divine was so perfect... I do love our church).  But, the crowning achievement of the day must be the sandwich Ben created for me, a hybrid of my two favorite sandwiches: BLT and lox (with cream cheese and onion, of course).  It was so amazing, it actually does deserve two pictures.

Sending love your way!