Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Treats



Happy Halloween!  The thing I love about this day is that everybody gets out of their houses, walks from door to door, and gets to be together.  While there are many holidays that I prefer based on their significance or meaning, I absolutely love that Halloween is a neighborhood sort of holiday, and we celebrate it with all of our neighbors.  It is just such a joy to see so many neighbors, both big and very little, in silly, cute, or even scary costumes.  We are lucky to live in a neighborhood with a veritable baby boom, and it's such a treat to see little (and then bigger) kids come year after year.  And of course the kids adore the holiday based on the fact that there are both costumes and candy involved: the ultimate double whammy!

Ben took the kids around while I handed out candy, and when they got home the kids got to eat as much candy as they wanted.  It sounds crazy, but this is the third year in a row we've done it, and they surprise us with their moderation each time.  Tonight, the candy fairy comes, who gathers Halloween candy in exchange for gifts (nail polish, chap stick, and coloring books this year... don't ask  how I know).  And then throughout the year Halloween candy magically appears as a special treat every now and then.  Isn't that crazy?

I must admit, I handed out all of our candy save for a small stash I set aside.  I think tonight merits a Butterfinger and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, don't you?

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Costumes


Presenting our 2013 Halloween costumes (eek!  I originally wrote that as 2012!  I need to get in the right year before it changes again)!  The girls and I have been reading the Pippi Longstocking books, which they adore (and which make me laugh really hard and also cringe a little bit, because that Pippi is a naughty little thing!).  When we were deciding about Halloween costumes, Zosia and Lily agreed that they both wanted to be Pippi Longstocking-- definitively and absolutely.  One trip to the thriftstore for a blue tablecloth later, I was sitting at the sewing machine with an old smock pattern, trying to come up with something sufficiently Pippi-ish.  I dressed up as Pippi Longstocking when I was a girl, and remembered the old pipe cleaner in the braids trick, and just like that we were in business!  The girls have had such fun running around in their costumes, and I have a feeling they will be in them just about all week.

Hugo, on the other hand, wanted to be a firefighter, which he more or less dresses as every day.  For the sake of variety, we convinced him to put on one of our dino costumes from a few years back, which we wore very well for all of 15 minutes, before he decided he would rather play in a big pile of leaves with all the other two year old boys.  Maybe we'll have more luck on Halloween night.

This Saturday was our big neighborhood Halloween party, and the official kickoff of Halloween week. There is a "Let's Pretend Parade," a Halloween party, and of course Halloween night!  Zosia, Lily and I have been trying to explain to Hugo what trick or treating is all about.  I really think he's going to love it this year, but it's sort of a funny thing to explain.  Knocking on neighbors' doors to receive candy?  It is too good to be true!

Me: Hugo, on Halloween, we will be wearing our costumes, and we will go next door and knock on the door.  What will you say when Mr. Brown opens his door?

Hugo:  Hi?

Hm... we're going to have to work on this.  I have a feeling that he's going to catch onto it pretty quickly.

Friday, October 25, 2013

During School



We have had such a wonderful week around here!  The babies are officially doing great, which is of course a huge boost to any pregnant woman's spirits (more on that later), and we have been having a fun week of homeschooling and playing and enjoying beautiful fall in Virginia.

I think we've sort of settled into a nice homeschooling rhythm during the week.  On days that Lily has preschool, I try to do a little more organized schooling with Zosia, with a math lesson, a handwriting lesson, some free writing time, and reading time.  We do arts and crafts and a lot of outdoor play in the afternoon.  And Hugo sort of hangs out and plays independently (you can see a few of the ways he's been "helping" around the house, with sorting pompoms in an egg carton, and peeling carrots in the nude.  Cutest chef ever).  Zosia loves to read to Hugo and Lily, and looking through these pictures makes me realize that Hugo is still very much an "ear holder."  What a funny little thing!

A couple of days a week we have activities out of the house, like a very sweet ballet class that both girls attend, or gymnastics with good friends once a week for Zosia.  The kids are lucky to see both sets of grandparents on a pretty regular basis, which everyone loves (and serves as a source of enrichment for them!  Grandmothers-- and grandfathers too-- make very good educators, it turns out!).  There are less regular activities in the mix, too, like daisies once a month for Zosia, a Catholic girl's club that both girls just started attending, and a family faith sharing group through our church.  Once you throw in a few playdates, and just about a weekly visit to either the midwife or the sonographer for me, that makes for a pretty well balanced week.  There is time at home (a lot more than in the past!), time with friends, and everything seems to have a flow and a rhythm.  Of course we're very aware of the fact that things are going to shift over the course of this exciting year for our family, so we are accepting this for what it is: a pleasant yet temporary rhythm for this moment.  Who knows what the next month will bring.

Oh, and while I'm reporting major family happenings, Zosia lost a tooth!  In case any of you are out of touch with the world of six year olds, this is huge business!  Very exciting, and much anticipated.  Nice work, Zo.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

29 Weeks Pregnant With Twins


29 weeks pregnant!  I can hardly believe it.  Here I am, at the beginning of the third trimester for a singleton pregnancy, and surely a little farther along than that for a twin pregnancy.  This is sort of a big week for twin pregnancies, because theoretically, the babies can be born at any point after 28 weeks and have a great chance of survival (over 90 percent).  Of course we're still planning on keeping these babies in for as long as possible (37 weeks or bust!), but it's good to know we've made it to this point.

The babies' movements have taken on a life of their own, and where I've been feeling them move for months, suddenly I can see them moving from outside of my belly quite clearly, and suddenly it is quite fun to touch my belly and feel their movements.  Ben and I are going in for an ultrasound tomorrow morning and we're both really excited to see the babies, be assured that they're growing well, and see what they're up to.  I'm really curious!

The other week, my aunt brought two tiny little cake topper babies.  "The twins," she explained.  Of course, it was only a matter of moments before the children discovered the new toys, and apparently Hugo spent the rest of the afternoon admiring them and playing with them.  After a while, the girls came by to let me know that Hugo was affectionately calling the two babies Grace and Hugo.  Grace, his really adorable four month old cousin.  And Hugo, because obviously he is still a baby, right?  Hm.  I must point out that Hugo will be significantly older than either of his sisters were when a new baby was introduced to the family, that little baby of mine.

I've been feeling great, and have been balancing celebrating my new found energy with getting the rest that I need.  Come 2 in the afternoon, my body more or less assumes a horizontal position, where I remain for an hour or two because I simply need it.  I totally understand why many doctors advise moms of twins to start their maternity leave at 28 weeks, because I can't quite imagine having to work full time at this point.  Mentally, I can function quite normally, but physically, it just feels better to be lying down.  I spent all of mass squirming and adjusting.  Ben looked at me concerned and asked, "Are you okay?"  Truth be told, it's just not possible to be comfortable in a pew at this point!  And although our church is awesome and I'm sure no one would bat an eye were I to actually lie down (can you imagine?), I think for now I would rather just squirm and wiggle for an hour.

But the good news is that I can rally for a few good hours, during which I can go on little outings with the kids (so long as I know I will be able to sit down once I reach our destination), homeschool, cook interesting things, and do our other domestic chores.  It's wonderful!

And we have definitely settled on some names for these little girls!  I know I've been teasing you with a possible announcement for a few weeks, but I have a feeling it's coming this week!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

 
*pretty*

I just put some pretty fabric over the glass doors of our "homeschooling cabinet."  It has been a huge help to have a place to organize our homeschooling stuff (books, art supplies, manipulatives, paper, etc), but as you can see, we've amassed quite a collection in the past few weeks!  I love the fact that with a glass door cabinet, you can just switch out the fabric.  Maybe one of these days I'll be organized enough to keep the bookshelves perfectly tidy and beautiful, but for now this is the perfect solution.

 *happy*

A tea party with our little man of the house when his sisters are at ballet.  He is quite the earnest host, insisting that I pull up a chair, and carefully pouring water into the cup.  Given the fact that the vast majority of Hugo's time is spent in the company of me and his two sisters, it's always such a special treat to have a little time just with him.  And he adores it, soaking up every second.

*funny*

A little snippet from On to Candleford, which I'm currently reading.  "To the women, home was home in a special sense, for nine-tenths of their lives were spent indoors.  There they washed and cooked and cleaned and mended for their teeming families; there they enjoyed their precious half-hour's peace with a cup of tea before the firein the afternoon, and there they bore their troubles as best they could and cherished their few joys.  At times when things did not press too heavily upon them they found pleasure in re-arranging their few poor articles of furniture."  

I read this outloud to Ben last week when I was in the midst of sickness, and we both had such a good laugh.  Does this resonate with anyone else?  Largely, of course, being at home has been a function of being pregnant with twins, but there are times that this paragraph could have been written about me.  Especially the re-arranging furniture part.  I love re-arranging our furniture and do so a whim probably at least twice a month.  I'm glad to know there's a historical precedent for this behavior.

*real*

I've been getting creative with setting Hugo up with little Montessori style activities while I'm doing a formal lesson with Zosia.  It has actually been working quite nicely, but invariably Zosia herself is much more interested in his activity than her own.  It actually works out just fine, as her lessons are usually about 15 minutes long, and I can save the Montessori activity as a treat for the end.  Above: Zosia working on a lacing board.  

Oh, and if you look carefully at the second picture in the post, you can see our "morning board," which as of yesterday morning remained hopelessly un-updated.  I'm afraid amid travel and sickness and focusing on the bare minimums of homeschooling, it fell by the wayside.  On our first day back in the full swing of things, Zosia and I tackled the project of updating it.  It feels wonderful to be well again!

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter this week!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Yarn Along



This week, I think I am calling my knitting "in progress" (which feels a little more generous than the title it deserves, which is plain old "unfinished").  I have four projects that are almost finished that require the littlest bit of attention, yet are still just lingering in their current state.  Come to think of it, there's a lot of things around here in that sort of state. When I lay out all of my knitting, it starts to look some sort of knitting infirmary.

I have two "In Threes" cardigans without buttons, one "Tiny Tea Leaves" without a sleeve, and a Milo Vest that is almost completed, save for an inch at the bottom, which will require a trip to the yarn store to remedy.  I'm thinking this week I'll have the time and energy to nurse them all to health, at which point I will only have one bit knitting project left: a sweater for my biggest girl, Zosia.  I've been eyeing Granny's Favorite (incidentally, I have already decided that when my own children hopefully have children one day, Granny will be my name of choice).  And if I finish that up and am still looking for something to keep my hands busy before the baby comes, I might make a Sunshine Day Baby Afghan, although it almost feels like I would need to make two for the sake of equanimity.

I've picked up my copy of Lark Rise to Candleford, and have started in on the second book it contains, On To Candleford.  So far, I'm actually liking this book even more than the first, as it seems to be a little more character driven, yet still contains the picturesque descriptions of life in a rural English hamlet .  I especially appreciate the descriptions of domestic life that it contains, as I can quite closely relate to the women of the hamlet!

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along today!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A New Week



Why hello there!  It's been a little while.  This past week is a blur of sickness and weakness and just plain old yuckiness.  It's one of those weeks I would gladly erase from our memory, but instead I will say a few things for which I am incredibly thankful.  My children were healthy.  Ben took heroic care of me, coming home from work to check in on me just about every day.  My children were absolute angels, playing with each other kindly, preparing snacks and activities.  It brings tears to my eyes to think of how good they are, these kids.  And the twins are just fine, as confirmed by a trip to the midwife on Friday.  So, all in all, we are now doing well and even in the midst of a gross bug, plenty of wonderful things were happening.

Ben took the kids to the fire station on Saturday for their annual open house.  Of course all of the kids loved it, but especially Hugo, who seems convinced that he is actually a fire fighter.  I mean, he wears the hat and everything, so that counts for something, right?

Zosia and Lily spearheaded a few Halloween decorations I've been meaning to put together for a few years.  Between a spider web and some bats on the wall, I would say we are pretty festive.  And we had all of the stuff lying around the house, so they were free!

And here we are at the beginning of a new week.  Family members and friends have been pitching in to give me a little time to recover, and I'm finally feeling a little more like myself (oh, I was saying that last week, so knock on wood).  The rain has cleared, the windows are open, and it's a beautiful fall day.  This is going to be a good week, I just know it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

26 Weeks Pregnant With Twins


I definitely felt pretty accomplished to travel across the country without much drama at 26 weeks pregnant.  It turns out that the stewardesses of the world agree with the cashiers of the world that this is definitely going to be a single boy (I have yet to have a pregnancy when this prediction has not been given to me.  I think it just has something to do with the way I carry babies?).  Given the surprises these babies have had for us, I will just say never say never.  Although I'm still thinking it's probably two girls.

I did manage to make up for my low drama trip with a very dramatic visit to the doctor's office in which I fainted.  Ben and I have had a cold the past week, and after a miserable night, I went in to get a strep test just to be safe.  The test came back negative, but as I was waiting for the results, I suddenly felt really horrible, and fainted on my way to the bathroom.  I seriously felt sorry for the doctor, who seemed much more distraught than I was.  I mean, a woman, pregnant with twins, fainting right there in your office.  It turns out my blood pressure, which is low to begin with, had dropped quite dramatically, probably due to slight dehydration.  Several cups of gatorade seemed to level that out, and one day later I'm feeling just fine and Ben and I are both on the mend, and the babies are still bouncing around, happy as can be.

The kids continue to be quite excited about the new additions to the family, and Hugo in particular has been excited to talk about the "couple" babies in mama's tummy.  Couple (pronounced "cupum" by Hugo) is a catch-all phrase for "many" or "more."  As in, "Couple pop corn!" or  "Couple water!"  which an onlooker might think means "Cup of water," but definitely just means "I need a lot of water."  So yes, there are definitely a lot of babies in mama's tummy, which is juxtaposed to the single baby that is in Hugo's tummy.  We have tried to explain how things really are, but there is no use.  Although this is one of those lessons that time will give.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

*pretty*

Snack time is one of the things that we can all agree upon in our household.  Fresh fruit (the last of the year's peaches), almonds and crackers hit the spot.  Quite simple and pretty.


*happy*

The craftiness gene is being passed on!  Zosia has taken up crocheting in full force, thanks to a potholder making kit she received from my sister on her birthday.  There was one entire weekend when we seriously did not see Zosia: she was in the basement making potholders.  If you need a potholder, you know where to come.  Part of making the potholders involves crocheting off the ends, and this week she has asked me to teach her how to crochet.  I learned how to crochet when I was little, and I actually think it is preferable to knitting for young children.  It is much more forgiving and error proof, and gives little ones a sense of accomplishment without demanding perfection.  I am excited to for her to take the next step to knitting one day when she's ready.


*funny*

In my house growing up, we didn't make pancakes, we made nalesniki, which are basically Polish crepes.  They are delicious and amazing, whether served plain with a sprinkling of sugar, with nutella and strawberries, or with sweetened farmers cheese (think blintzes).  My children are always begging my mom to make them, and so I've started making them at home much more often.  As anyone who has had a picky eater before (ahem... Hugo... ahem) knows, finding a food that your child loves makes everyone happy. He decided his preferred method of consuming nalesniki is with huge mounds of plain yogurt and jelly, unrolled.  Totally fine with me.  Although if you're going for the refined dining thing, take Zosia's cue and roll them up daintily.


*real*

Ben and I are home with colds this week.  There are no two ways about it, I am just not the best traveler. I don't sleep well on the road, always seem to pick something up, and often come home a little worn out.  I have learned to enjoy traveling despite all of this, but it does bring me to where I am this week: resting at home with a sick husband.  We are drinking tea and raw honey, getting plenty of fluids, and enjoying one another's company, which in the end isn't half bad.


round button chicken

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Yarn Along


Several flights in the past week has meant plenty of knitting time, and it was so nice to have something productive to do during what could otherwise be down time.  It's not often over the course of a regular day that I have several uninterrupted hours of commitment free knitting time, so it was exciting to see some rapid progress.  I finished up one "in threes" cardigan during our trip to Austin, and am halfway through another.  It's such a nice, simple pattern, and I think that my finished vest will be just about 3-6 month size.  I still need to find a truly newborn pattern for the babies when they arrive in the mid winter!

We've been reading through the Little House books with the girls each evening, and it is such a treat to be reading them aloud.  Both Ben and I adore these books, and even when I am not the one reading aloud, I will usually remain within earshot to hear Ben reading the stories.  I think our girls really believe that they are Mary and Laura, and their personalities sort of fit the mold, too.  There's our careful, sweet eldest child, and our curious, lively littler sister.  When playing little house imaginary play, Hugo of course gets relegated to either the role of baby Carrie or Jack the bulldog.  Ah, life in a house full of girls.

Linking up with Ginny and the yarn along today!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Austin




Isn't it such fun to see a new city?  I had never been to Texas before, although anyone who has met Ben knows, as he proudly professes, that he was born in Texas.  He lived there for two years and then never went back, but still, the pride is there.  But Ben was not born in Austin.  Oh no, he was born in College Station, home of Texas A&M, major rival of UT, which is in Austin.  It gets ugly.  But don't worry, Austin, we didn't hold it against you.

In the end, our visit was quick, so we only had a few chances to explore the city.  But it is quite clear that Austin is a young, fun city.  There are tons of tattoo parlors, juice bars, and vintage clothing shops (note to my children from my curmudgeon self: please do not get a tattoo.  Try to find another form of self expression).  Oh, and young people.  Tons of them.  It's a very bohemian city with a lot of wonderful music and good food and interesting coffee shops.  It was warm (95 degrees at the end of September!  Whew!), and there were bicycles everywhere, which of course we loved.  It sort of felt a little like the more artsy parts of Atlanta: relaxed and alternative, and also a little edgy.

It was fun to hop around from brunch to lounging around in a coffee shop as if we had nothing else to do (because in fact, we did have nothing else to do).  Back when Zosia was born, our lives consisted of just exactly that type of thing.  We loved chatting with friends and meeting a cute new baby and hearing about new jobs and condos and that sort of thing.  Many of our friends from Boston were at the wedding, and it was good to spend time with them.  We really love them.

Lily seemed to enjoy the excitement and attention of a trip to herself, and we delight in her.  She is such a joy and brings smiles wherever she goes.  It was fun to pretend that she was the only child for the weekend.  But in the end, she was quite bored with just the two of us.  She adores her siblings, and spent most of the trip trying to find special things to take home to them, or wishing she were playing with them.

Zosia and Hugo, meanwhile, were having a really fun time back home with my parents, who came to spend the weekend with them.  I am never good at leaving my people behind (and had never left Hugo overnight before), but it went as smoothly as could possibly be imagined.  My parents are pros, and everyone was happy and entertained and eating a lot of good food.  It felt great to know the kids were in such good hands.

It was a fun weekend and it is so good to be home again, all at once.  Hugo walked around Sunday night after we got home saying "Miss you too, Mama!  Miss you too!"  So sweet.  I love this little family of ours.

Speaking of my parents, if you think of it, will you say a prayer for my dad this morning (pictured below with my Aunt, Mom, and Sister, from left to right, when I was less pregnant, and my sister was decidedly more pregnant)?  He is having knee replacement surgery, and we are all looking forward to chasing him up mountains in the near future.