Monday, September 30, 2013

A Flower Girl

When Lily's godmother asked her to be the flower girl at her wedding, we knew it would be perfect. Lily is just the sort of kid that shines when given the opportunity, and we are always looking for the chance to do something special with this middle child of ours.  So off we went to Austin, Texas, just Ben, myself and Lily, for a weekend adventure.

The wedding was absolutely beautiful.  Everything: the liturgy, presided over by one of our favorite priests, who baptized Zosia when she was a baby;  the music, which was elegant and beautiful, much like the bride herself; the vows; the church, filled with old friends and other people who love the bride and groom.  There's nothing like going to a wonderful wedding to renew the love and commitment and sense of purpose in your own marriage.  We loved it.

And of course Lily did shine!  The other flower girl was just Hugo's age, and as soon as we explained to Lily that she would need to guide her down the aisle, she was filled with a sense of resolve and purpose.  She calmly, resolutely held Delaney's hand and slowly walked down the aisle, looking around and smiling as she went.  "I'm going to be the most beautiful bride!" she had chirped as I did her hair in the morning.  And indeed, she was!  Well, flower girl, bride, whatever.  I'm not sure I ever really understood the difference when I was four and a flower girl, either.

And since we were in a new city, we got to do a little bit of exploring with friends along the way, which I will share tomorrow!  Have a wonderful Monday!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real


My parents went to the beach and I asked them to bring us back some shells.  Hugo has been very happily sorting the shells into "families" during the big girls school time.  Each family always has at least a daddy and a baby, and Hugo definitely considers himself to be the baby of that grouping.


Zosia has started begging me to let her silently read books during school time.  To which I have to feign resignation as I say "Well, okay, but just today."  It is such a joy to see her discover the world of reading, zipping through chapter books in a single day.  This is definitely why we are homeschooling.


If it weren't for the fact that a 2 year old Lily probably would have been right along side Hugo, this picture could be a tutorial on the differences between boys and girls.  I am quite sure that in his imagination, Hugo was scaling the wall to do some sort of construction repair work. 


Warning: gross toddler story below.

One of Ben's coworkers hosted a company picnic on Sunday, which was so much fun.  Ben was the first employee in a tiny startup created by a few guys from our highschool.  When he started working there two years ago, we had no idea whether they would even be able to build what they were attempting to build (they did) or whether they would still be around today (they are).  Actually, they have so many employees that I lose count (is it eighteen?), and where once we were the only family with little children, now everyone has little kids and babies.  It is such fun to all get together and watch the little ones play.  There are baby bumps, and newlyweds, and so many cute dogs.

Anyway, on Sunday the kids were having so much fun.  The girls found some big kids to play chess wit them, and Hugo found the chocolate milk.  Seriously, every time I looked at the kid he was drinking chocolate milk.  Was it one box?  Two boxes?  Five?  No one knows.  Anyway, later on, whenever I looked at Hugo, he was being swung around like some sort of circus performer by his daddy.  Which is just as it should be.  Chocolate milk and wild swinging.

Well, just as we were all rounding up to go, you guessed it, our sweet little boy up and barfed chocolate milk all over the stairs.  Etiquette lesson from Hugo: there is nothing like a dramatic exit to solidify yourself in a new acquaintance's memory.

Linking up with LMLD today!

round button chicken

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Yarn Along

It's been a while since I linked up with Yarn Along!  A year?  Two years?  My only excuse is that it seems to take all of my full blown nesting instincts (and the mandate to sit down much more than I am really comfortable with) to instigate a regular knitting habit.  I remember knitting up a storm when I was pregnant with Hugo.  And then?  A little project here or there for a baby shower, but other than that, not much of anything.  I guess at heart I am really an occasional knitter.

Anyway, now that I have not only twice the babies to prepare for, but twice the nesting instinct, and twice the mandate to sit down, my knitting is back in full force!  I am almost done with Lily's tiny tea leaves, and probably would have finished today had I not run out of yarn for the second arm.  Why am I always so hopeful about two skeins of yarn lasting for a toddler sweater?

And I have actually been reading  a lot, but more in the homeschool research department than in the sheer pleasure reading department.  I have been reading and re-reading every homeschooling book in our library, and have settled on reading a chapter or two of Pocketful of Pinecones when I have a bit of time.  For anyone who is hesitant about homeschooling and feels overwhelmed by the mere thought of it, I recommend this book.  In the form of a story, it explores the idea of homeschooling in a Charlotte Mason style, which, so far, has worked wonderfully for us.

Oh, and I actually printed out and read the entirety of the papal interview!  I'm so glad that I did, because this guy has some really wonderful things to say.  Ben has been reading it too (warning: it's several pages long and has a lot of good material for thought, so you might want to split it into two nights).  And, as always, the parts that are most memorable and meaningful to me are parts that have been totally ignored by everyone else.

Here are some of my favorites:

On experiencing our faith as part of a community:

“The image of the church I like is that of the holy, faithful people of God. This is the definition I often use, and then there is that image from the Second Vatican Council’s ‘Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’ (No. 12). Belonging to a people has a strong theological value. In the history of salvation, God has saved a people. There is no full identity without belonging to a people. No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in the human community. God enters into this dynamic, this participation in the web of human relationships."

On finding a place for the unique perspective that women have to offer in the church:

"We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church. The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions."

On the ambiguity that exists in the Christian life:

"Yes, in this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. Uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation."

Pardon my extensive quoting.  In my other life, I was a theology student, and I still absolutely love reading and thinking about this stuff.  Of course, the lesson of the last few weeks is that any single quote cannot sum up the entirety of what someone is trying to say, so don't trust me, read it for yourself.  But lucky for all of us, as a Catholic, even a puny lay perspective is still considered to be a part of the Church with a capital "C" (he actually talks about that in his interview, too), so there is value in us sorting through these things for ourselves.  Regardless of your background or perspective, I can honestly say there will be some wisdom to be found in the interview.  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Linking in with Ginny at Small Things, who is learning all about sitting down and resting in the final weeks of her own pregnancy.  Hang in there, sister!

Monday, September 23, 2013

25 Weeks Pregnant With Twins

Week by week, we are knocking this pregnancy out!  I got to see the babies up close on an ultrasound on Friday, which brings tears to my eyes every time.  They are doing wonderfully.  "Couldn't be better," I believe were the words of the radiologist, which is music to a pregnant mama's ears.  The babies are head down, growing perfectly for their gestational age, and are sharing their nutrients nicely (they are both the same size, which is something they look for with identical twins in particular).  You go, babies!  
These babies thriving is such encouragement to me.  Because, you know, I am starting to feel pretty pregnant. Which is about right, given the fact that I am the same size that I was a month before Zosia was born (evidence below).  So to hear that these babies are doing such hard work (they are growing wonderfully, are in a perfect position, and are sharing nicely with one another) makes me feel like I can do anything.  

And I am actually feeling pretty great.  So great, in fact, that I wish I could run around doing everything I normally do, when in fact I need to stay off of my feet as much as possible or else I end up regretting it later.  All this sitting around makes someone like me, who usually adores being active, just the littlest bit stir crazy.  But if these babies can hold up their end of the bargain, I can certainly hang out and relax for a couple of more months.  We can do this, babies.  One week at a time.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Home Again Bed Jump

This guy went on a business trip this week, and I think those bed-jumping pictures sum up how we all feel to have him home!  Whew, ladies who routinely hold down the fort with little ones while your husband is away, mad props to you.  We did a good job keeping busy and were surrounded by so many people we love, but there is nothing like Ben's presence to keep us all happy and grounded.  Seriously, he is so central to this family, and we are all quite content to have him here with us.

One saving grace was having some company for dinner each night (my parents one, and some friends the next) to keep us distracted and happy.  Ben sent us little pictures of his trip throughout the day, and we chatted with him and sent him messages, too.  A friend whose husband travels a good bit shared that when he is away, she records a special goodnight message from their 2 year old daughter during bath time.  I thought that was the sweetest thing: it's so special to stay connected, even when apart.

But what can I say, I like to have my people close at hand.  What tricks do you have to stay connected with loved ones who are far away?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Everyday Wonders

::Gathering the last of the seasons' tomatoes.  Yes, it was actually cold enough to wear a hat.  It's Lily who's underdressed.
::We may have only a week or two left before frost claims the tomatoes.
::Zosia and Hugo have become the fireman rescue squad.  Lily alerts them to fires around the house.  Those are little occupation cards they are holding: Hugo doesn't care for any of them save for the two firemen.
::A friend gave Zosia this book, and we have had a wonderful time making "hunormous bubbles," as Lily would say.  It really is amazing to watch.
::There's our chrysalis hanging out.  She generally lives inside a jar, and I am hoping to upgrade her to a butterfly net where she will be comfortable emerging from her cocoon. 
::Lily is one of those people who loses herself in dance.  I just adore that about her.

Monday, September 16, 2013

24 Weeks Pregnant With Twins

I can't believe I'm 24 weeks already!  There's something about the likelihood that in 3 months I will be holding two babies in my arms that makes everything seem so very real and exciting.

We are whittling down the name list for the babies, and this will be the first time that we definitively select and share a name before a baby is born.  I can't wait to share the names with you guys!  Guesses are welcome.

I purchased a little wicker bassinet off of craigslist this weekend which luckily looks roomy enough to comfortable accommodate two newborn babies, and have started slowly gathering little things in preparation.  It makes me smile to look into the corner of our room and see a little space readying itself for these babies, and am hoping that by the time I get to 30 weeks or so we will be all set.

And as far as the pregnancy goes, I continue to feel pretty great most of the time, with a few days here and there that I feel slow.  Which is often the case even if I'm not pregnant (with twins!).  The midwives I'm seeing have agreed that as long as everything continues to look as low risk as it is at the moment, there will be no need for me to routinely see the ob, which makes me very happy, because I am thrilled that everything is going well with these babies and I adore these midwives.  

All in all, It's nice to be enjoying this pregnancy, fall in Virginia, and the ease of our family life at the moment.  The kids have all been sleeping in until at least 9:00 (9:00 people!  This is craziness!), which means that I also sleep in and am feeling rested and energetic and peppy.  Which is just right, because we know that a more active season of parenthood is right around the corner!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This and That

::Another first day of preschool for a girl who is one of the most delightful children I know.
::Knitting and coffee, which go so well together.  It has been nice to have something to keep my hands busy, and I am not even complaining that I knit half of a Milo vest twice only to realize that, despite testing my gauge, the size 4 was way too big (has anyone had problems with the size 4 before?  I swear I have made this vest 10 times without any issues).  I have admitted defeat and switched over to a Tiny Tea Leaves, which, come to think of it, will be all the more practical because it buttons up the front.  
::A tasty lunch that makes me squeal with delight when I realize have all of my children with me around the table for lunch every day.  I am so lucky.
::Math lessons have become one of our favorite times of day.  There's something so rewarding both about teaching and learning math.
::Chicken pot pie for dinner: a complete meal in one dish!

Things are falling into a nice rhythm around here, and despite a big heat wave, I'm starting to really believe that fall is right around the corner.  I sorted through winter things this past weekend, and amid the happy realization that we really don't need many new things to tide us through the winter (save for new pants for Zosia!  That girl has shot up!) I have realized that our dressers suddenly have very full drawers that contain both summer clothing and winter clothing.  I'm thinking a few weeks of cooling temperatures will help with that!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Homeschool, Week 1

::a first day of school teatime, just me and Zosia.

::I made a plum cake and my mom brought by a lovely fruit tart.

::the children spent over two hours playing Narnia in the afternoon.  Zosia was Susan, Lily was Lucy, and Hugo was either Edmund or Peter, depending on the girls' needs.  As far as he was concerned, he was just going around the house putting out fires (complete with a fireman's hat).  I think he was thrilled to be welcomed into big kid imaginary play.

::We found what we believe to be a Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar in the front, and placed it in a jar for a day of observation.  Upon going to the library (where we had a picnic dinner with Ben and rode bikes) and returning home, the caterpillar had started turning into a chrysalis!  I just checked in on him, and he has completed his cocoon.  I just might have joyfully teared up at the sight.  I mean, I'm so happy for him!  He's beginning his gestation.  And no, of course these aren't my pregnancy hormones talking.

::Hugo has been enjoying participating in school (circle time in the morning is his favorite), and has been sleeping waaaay in every morning, which has meant that I can do a math lesson with Zosia before he's even awake.  Totally perfect.

::The children set up a carwash for all yard cars, tractors, and bicycles.  Everything is legitimately cleaner, and they had a wonderful afternoon organizing it.

::Ben just started reading Little House in the Big Woods, which is a family favorite.  We finished The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,and have been reading some stories by Hans Christian Anderson (you simply must read the original Little Mermaid.  Our kids haven't seen the movie, and know no differently, but this story is totally different than the Disney version, and, no spoilers, has an awesomely melancholy and yet poignant ending).

Our first week of homeschooling was wonderful.  Seriously, I had no idea it would be this much fun for everyone involved.  Zosia is a little teacher trapped in a six year old's body, so she has been coordinating activities and helping the littler two along.  We have a very free form school going on: every day we do a circle time, a math lesson for Zosia, free writing, and a nature journal.  We are big readers, so Zosia will either read aloud to me or her siblings, or read to herself.  We have been spending a lot of time playing outside (which Zosia insists on calling "recess".  So cute).  And we always spend plenty of time reading aloud to the kids.

The best part for me has been that we really can treat each person in the family as an individual, respecting his or her own needs (be it for rest, activity, stimulation, sleep, nourishment, whatever).  Our mornings have been lovely and relaxed, and there is no rushing to get anyone out the door.  Our afternoons are playful and rested.  Zosia is no longer exhausted after a long day at school in which she was constantly required to be on her toes.  Since all of our organized schoolwork gets done in a couple of hours, we can say "yes" to every playdate, excursion, and social interaction, so we are spending as much time as possible with friends.  And the kids are all so curious, it makes this whole teaching them thing a pleasure.  I have been learning so much myself, and it is thrilling.

I will try to share some of the details of what we're doing over the coming weeks (because I'm sort of a nerd, I have been reading up on homeschooling things for years).  And then there are plenty of things I'm still working on: some montessori activities for Hugo, setting up regular reading lessons for Lily, recorder lessons for Zosia, and doing some more art with the kids being among them.

I hope you all and your little ones had a wonderful first week of school, too!

Monday, September 2, 2013

22 Weeks Pregnant With Twins

There you have it: I've gotten so behind on pregnancy posts that I've just skipped a week altogether.  Here we are, 22 weeks, and I've actually sort of been loving the last couple of weeks of pregnancy.  I have more energy, and after a few weeks of rapid growth (weeks 16-20!  Whew!  I had no idea my belly could grow so much in so short a time!) I've settled into a comfortable pace.  That has also meant that my appetite has curbed a little bit, and once again I am satiated by what seems to be a somewhat normal and manageable amount of food.  In other words, I feel a little more like my pregnant self, which tends to be peppy and energetic and increasingly focused on nesting.

And I have been nesting in full force!  Between knitting, sewing, and shifting household things around for the babies I have been keeping busy.  But all this is just as it should be, as I've heard that those final weeks of a twin pregnancy, when you usually are taking care of all of those things, you really need to slow down and relax.  I'm trying to see how little I can get away with actually buying, and things are looking pretty good.  We have a spare crib in the attic, and between that and a bassinet, I am hoping we will be able to get by until Hugo graduates from his crib this coming spring.  So, aside from a couple of swaddling blankets and a swing (expectant mothers, make sure you have both of these items along with this book.  Regardless of the temperament of your baby, you will be able to keep him or her happy and sleeping well.  As a mother of various babies with various temperaments, I can assure you these techniques work!), I think we're set.

Tomorrow is our first day of homeschooling and I'm super excited!  Sending much love to all of you with little ones starting a new school year: I know it's always an exciting transition.