Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Memorial Day and Other Happenings

::These happy babies keep us all smiling!
:: Clara, taking her first swim (the babies love the water, or at least tolerate it.  This is a big win!)
::My three big kids in their red white and blue.  I love everything about this picture, including the clothes line in the background.  I rode bikes down to the parade with the big kids while Ben stayed home with sleeping babies.  Around here, the Memorial Day parade is a local tradition that can't be missed!
::Two sets of blond haired, blue eyed sisters (my aunt, left, holding Clara, and my mom, right, holding Dorothy).
::What would Memorial Day be without a cookout (and pool towels drying on the deck!)
::Lily graduated from preschool on Friday, which was definitely bittersweet!  Her preschool is so loving, low key, and nurturing.  What a wonderful place to spend a few mornings a week.

Happy Memorial Day, and Happy beginning of summer!  I know, I know, we have a few weeks until summer is official, but it sure feels like it's arrived to me!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ten Years Just Like That!

During our first year of marriage, which was also our last year of college, I would take a daily run through Piedmont Park in Atlanta, a big park up the way from our teeny tiny newlywed apartment.  If you're anything like me, when you're running/ hiking/ walking, there's a narrative that's playing through your head.  Maybe it's what you're going to do the next day, or hitting yourself over the head for mistakes you made that day (be gentle with yourself!).  Well for me, that year, it was, "What will be going on at our ten year anniversary?"

Planning a wedding and getting married was a whirlwind, and, truth be told, wasn't exactly my cup of tea.  Too much stress, too many hopes (not my own), too many people I didn't really know, and certainly too much money.  Not my style.  So here was the plan: at our ten year anniversary, we could have a re commitment ceremony.  Low key, easy, and with only the closest friends and family.  Maybe hiking up a mountain to exchange vows, or even a cookout, right in Piedmont Park.  Why not?  Something that celebrated our love for one another without all of the pomp and grandeur.  And since we got married crazy young, in ten years, who knows, we might even have friends still getting married (we do!).

So every day, legs running, I would think through the details.  Would we have kids?  How many?  Where would we live?  What would we do?  All this was a way of dreaming of our future, and I think by the time we moved to Boston, I had ironed out all of the creases.  A low key barbecue, with three or four kids by our side.  Maybe even some bluegrass music in the background.

So of course it's a little funny to arrive at this impossibly far off "ten year anniversary" in what seems like the blink of an eye. In the end, we moved twice, had a string of children in much faster succession than either of us had imagined (twins will do that!).  Switched jobs (Ben), gotten another degree (me).  And had many adventures along the way.  It went by fast, but a lot sure did happen!  And in the end, we are more ourselves, and like each other even more than when we started, I think it's safe to say.

We celebrated our ten year anniversary in the same place where we celebrated our first anniversary: watching Garrison Keillor at Wolf Trap (can you see him up there on that stage?  Yeah, neither could we.  But we could hear him, and that's all that really matters.  Lawn tickets all the way!).  Two children sleeping over at their grandparent's house, three children at home with the babysitter, and us under the stars with very full hearts.

So now should I start thinking of our Twenty Year Anniversary?  I'm thinking something on the ocean, or maybe Mediterranean Sea, what do you think?

Oh, and because I don't post nearly enough throw back photos, here we are at our one year anniversary!  We're such babies!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pie Competitions and Toddler Races

::Winning pie on the far right, key lime with whipped cream and strawberries.
::There were three pecan pies in the running, and I can't say I mind the leftovers!
::Babies, babies, babies!  You know where to come if you want to hold one!
::The winners of the pie baking competition and the cutie pie competition, respectively.
::Kids racing around the yard

I don't know if my mantle has ever looked as pretty as when covered with a whole line up of pies!  We had some neighbors over for a good old fashioned Pie Baking Competition this weekend.  It was beautiful out, and we have some of the very best neighbors around.  There always seems to be someone hosting a smoking competition, a driveway party, or a pumpkin carving competition, so we figured, why not kick off the season nice and early?  I made a ridiculous amount of pulled pork, Ben made some tasty mint juleps, and our neighbors brought everything else.  Cole slaw, corn bread muffins, and even some homemade pickles.  I told you our neighbors are the best!

We had races for the kids, in honor of the Kentucky Derby, which is when this party was originally supposed to occur.  In the end, we celebrated on the day of the Preakness.  Close enough, right?  Not that any of us are hard core horse racing fans, but it makes for a good excuse for a party.  We had two races: one five and up, the other under five, both of which were amazingly fun.  We told the little kids to "go down, run around the chair, and run back."  Hugo apparently understood that to mean he was supposed to run to the chair and just keep on running around it.  He was so energetic and excited, he didn't even notice the other kids weren't doing it, and must have rounded that last chair about ten times before I encouraged him to run back.

The season of outdoor parties is my absolute favorite, and I think it's safe to say that it's arrived!  Memorial day just a stone throw away, and this week is festive in our parts.  Our anniversary, my birthday, and a super long weekend.  Woo hoo!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Flowers and Showers

You can tell that summer is edging out spring when the rain storms come.  Not days and days of cold unrelenting rain, like we saw this winter.  And different than the cool showers that nurture hungry spring earth as the winter thaws.  These showers are strong, steamy and fast, often accompanied by flashes and booms.  You can smell them coming on the humid air, and everything feels a little cooler when they've passed.  Sometimes the pavement steams in their wake.  

The flowers have bloomed, and then wilted, and then new flowers have bloomed again.  A wonderful fireworks display, and even five years after living in this house, I continue to be surprised each and every time a flower blooms.  Where will the flowers come?  What colors will they bring?  Some thoughtful homeowner of years bygone no doubt put time and effort into planning all this out, and here I am just sitting back and enjoying it.  One time in high school, Ben ran into my mom.  After chatting for some time, she said, "It's nice to meet you, Ben."  Ben explained that no, actually, they had met several times before.  She laughed, embarrassed, always forgetting these things.  "That's okay," Ben replied.  "That way you get to meet more people."  A quick wit, that one.  We tell the story to this day, the "first" time Ben met my mom.  And here I am getting to meet more flowers, year after year, always forgetting where and when they will come, what they will look like.  It really is better this way.

Strawberry plants are shooting towards the sky, mint is taking over the entirety of one raised bed reminding me that yes it is an invasive plant.  The babies have one tooth that has broken skin each.  Just barely, and as always with our babies, the tooth breaking skin itself has been easy peasy, but boy do I remember a cranky night or two a few weeks back!  

The babies have been stalking our forks and spoons on their journey from the plate to our mouths, looking longingly and drooling.  On a whim the other night, I mashed up some avocado from my salad, put it on my finger, and offered it to Clara, thinking she would spit it out.  She rolled it around in her mouth and swallowed it, and then started gnawing on my finger for more.  That's how it is when you're twins, number four and five in a family, I guess.  There was no ceremonial "first food," no sitting around the baby in the high chair with anticipation. Just some mashed avocado on a finger.  I guess she liked it.  Every night or two, when I think of it, I'll give them some food.  Usually some mashed up cooked egg yolk on my finger, and they have often been downing a whole yolk between the two of them.  I'm always on the lookout for more nutritionally dense first foods, seeing as how the other alternative is breastmilk, and it doesn't get much healthier than that for a baby.  Egg yolk seems like a good one, and if I can avoid getting too much eye rolling I might try to squeeze in some liver. If you look closely in that picture of Ben holding both babies, you can see that Clara is sporting some egg yolk stains.  Is it just me or are these babies growing up fast?  

I gave the kids their summer haircuts this weekend.  At the end of it all, there was a big pile of honey colored hair on our kitchen floor.  Some strands long, some curly, some short.  A pretty huge mountain of hair, actually, and three very chipper children (even Hugo, who only needed to be bribed with the promise of a "red knockem" aka hammer from Ben).  Ben thinks Lily looks like she's out a Cassat painting, and I have to agree.  Such beautiful depictions of domesticity in those paintings.  As it so happens, there's a Cassat exhibit at the National Gallery, and I think we'll have to go.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Likeness at 4 Months


I get asked all the time who we think these babies look like.  In truth, I see little bits of each of our children in one another.  Maybe it's the eyes, or the mouth, or the chin, or the hair.  Even though each of our kids has their own unique look, I really do believe they all sort of blend together, too!  And Clara and Dorothy are no exception.

First of all, yes, they do look like one another.  Identical twins, go figure!  They are actually looking more and more like one another.  In the early days, Clara's skin was more reddish and Dorothy's was more fair.  Clara had some bruises on her face when she was born, Dorothy did not.  And Clara was a little bigger than Dorothy so there was that, too.  Just about all of those differences have disappeared, which means we are left with two children that are quite similar.  Their head shapes are still ever so slightly different, but I'm guessing when their hair comes in longer that won't be a good clue.  Dorothy has a birthmark, which is the go-to if anyone (ahem, Ben, ahem) is feeling confused.  But somehow, for those of us who are with the babies day in and day out, we can just tell the difference, Ben included.  I just need to take a good look at their eyes, and I know.

So here's the line up, for your own evaluation!  I must confess, they look a lot like Zosia to me.  Same face shape, same nose, same smile.  Their coloration is Lily's (oh my word, Lily was the most roly poly chubby baby ever.  I love it!).  And I think Hugo looks a little like both Zosia and Lily (and will you look at that full head of hair!  Way to go, four month old Hugo).  What do you think?  And who do your kids look like?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pansies, Trees, Monsters


I'm so glad I put some pansies in the window boxes on a whim a few weeks ago!  Usually by now, pansies would be leggy and wilting due to warm weather, but thanks to our cool spring, they're still just fine!  Another couple of weeks until it's time for petunias, I would say.


The best homeschooling days seem to be the ones that are born of spur of the moment ideas.  This morning, a fallen branch in the front yard led to a lesson on trees, roots, photosynthesis, and different types of leaves.  Nature study has been such a fun way to get all of the kids involved in homeschooling, and it never feels like a chore! I was glad to have that sweet potato growing on our kitchen table, as it served as a great illustration on roots.  And there's my trusty leaf gatherer working hard in the yard.  There is actually some green stuff growing on the ground, which in itself is a small miracle (weeds, grass, who cares.  You can't be picky in these parts).


An artist and her work.  This one is entitled "Monster."  Lily is actually amazing at all things monster and robot related, whether on paper, or in Legos.  I actually just love this monster.  Such personality!


Hugo continues to adore the twins (above, with Dorothy), and we continue to heavily censor his interactions with them, because this love is too strong!  A typical interaction might look like this.

Hugo:  There's a baby.  This baby is really happy.

Hugo bends down and starts kissing the baby.

Hugo:  I kissing baby's face.  Hugo smiles.  

Dorothy:  cries

Hugo:  This baby is really sad.  Hugo exits stage left.

Oh well, the love is there.  One of these days he'll figure the rest out.

Joining in with Like Mother, Like Daughter this week!