Monday, July 28, 2014

Mud Pies and Virginia Summer

I was born and raised in this part of Virginia where we're raising our family.  At the closest hospital to our house, brought home to our family's apartment just a mile from where we live now.  And if you talk to me about it, you will learn that I am quite the Virginia enthusiast.  It's kind of a great state: there are beaches, farms, mountains, rivers.  The seasons are distinct and showy.  Things are always changing, ushering in a new feel to the air, or new colors to the trees.  The clothing we wear changes drastically from month to month, as do our activities and the ways we interact with the outdoors.

And let me tell you that in all my years here in this state, I have never known a summer quite like this one!  Mild, cool, breezy?  I am tickled, as these days remind me of our summers in Boston (whose summers are stunning).  Our windows are open, we often find ourselves wearing a sweater.  It has been pretty great, and we have been living out of doors whenever possible.  It has been a flurry of energy and activity, and I have found myself taking cues from my wise eldest (who lives up to the meaning of her name, wisdom), who sometimes asks if we can spend the afternoon at home.  And we do, and take a deep breath and remember that the coming seasons hold for us more of this rest, the still time indoors to create and take in a different kind of beauty.

Clara and Dorothy are crawling.  Dorothy crawls hand over hand, quickly and assertively.  She loves it when I vacuum (still! The babies adored this as newborns!) and follows the vacuum around.  My little housekeeping companion.  Clara is crawling, too, but slowly, deliberately.  There she is crawling to my camera from her blanket in the grass.  At our six month appointment I informed the doctor that the babies were crawling.  She wasn't too impressed, until I sat Dorothy down on the exam table.  At which point she swiveled into a leaning sitting position, then swiveled again into a crawling position and proceeded to crawl (almost) off the table.  "You will never see a six month old do this again," the doctor, stunned, informed the resident.  So there you have it, our incredible crawling twinsies.

The kids have been making mud pies (I have learned to always trust Ginny's book suggestions!  They are the best) and setting teatimes for dolls, stuffed animals, brothers and fathers alike. I received a serious reprimand for discarding some chalk tea, which was left out in the kitchen.  Seriously, sometimes mothers just do not know what's most important!  

And the girls have been preparing for this coming year, during which they will be going to school.  We have been praying and worrying (me) and trying to figure out the best path for our family this coming year, and in the end our discernment was clear and easy: I'm excited to share more with you about it in the coming weeks.

(Oh, and will you look at the babies with their cousin Grace!  We call her the "big triplet," and I can already see how these three will be thick as thieves over the years).

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Around the Table

We have just entertained a 24 hour stomach bug at our home for the last couple of days.  You know, because we're so hospitable.  Big kids were spared, thank goodness, and the rest of us are only a little worse for the wear.  Ben and I learned that sometimes even two sets of hands to hold two babies is not enough to keep everyone happy, which threw us all for a loop because usually these twinsies are so cheery.  Whew, we were tired out yesterday.  But, as Pa from Little House is oft quoted as saying in our house, "There is no great loss without some small gain," and sometimes these bugs leave you with a sudden surge of energy in their wake.  Maybe it's just the relief of feeling normal after a day or two of lethargy.  And just so, this morning we all woke up refreshed after a good night's sleep and we're back to the lovely day to day business of summer.  Mornings at the pool, early afternoons resting and reading, late afternoon doing arts and crafts around the table and cooking.

Clara and Dorothy have started regularly joining us at the dinner table, and I can't tell you how full it makes my heart.  Five little bodies, five voices, five personalities.  I think Ben and I have sat around a dinner table together every day of our marriage, save for the few days that one of us has been elsewhere or we have some exciting event.  And babies, toddlers, and little children have joined us there, along with friends or family members.  It really is sacramental, this coming together to nourish our bodies.  There's something so centering, calming, and rhythmic about it (even on days when it feels like chaos and cacophony, and there are plenty of those!).  The babies get something special, preferably something which will take a loooong time to eat (spaghetti seems to work well), and Hugo and Lily are not (I repeat not) allowed to sit next to one another.  Too much poking.  Zosia makes the perfect buffer.

I'm also sort of loving how easy it feels to throw together a meal in the summertime.  It can be as easy as grilled meat, some raw veggies, and toast.  Or nectarines and whole milk yogurt for lunch.  Lily helped me make some granola with nut flour and oats the other day (this is the recipe that we use, replacing nut flour for regular), and it seems to fill our tummies a little better until snack or lunchtime.  Our family saying for granola is "Half a cup will fill you up!" or, as Zosia the resident poet ammended, "Half a cup is quite enough!" which we especially make sure to recite to guests who, accustomed to grocery store cereal, might mistakenly fill their bowls to the top and later regret it.  With plenty of protein, and healthy fats, and a serving of whole milk (can you tell we're all about the beneficial dairy fats?  No skim milk here, thank you very much!), it makes breakfast a much more nourishing affair.

Friday, July 11, 2014

This and That

::"How old do you have to be to have your paintings in an art gallery?"  She pauses to consider.  "Probably six or seven."  She could color all day, and I am happy to let her.  There's nothing as motivating as doing what you love.

::Zosia, Lily, Ben and I have been reading Nancy Drew every evening after the littlest three are in bed.  I am hooked!  It makes me think that there just might be some mysteries right here that need to be solved.
::This little thing has spent the entire summer in line for the diving board, or jumping off of it.  A daredevil, to be sure, and fearless and a little sassy.  Of all my children, I see my own childhood personality reflected in this one. 

::Clara and Dorothy are on the move!  Slowly, but purposefully, and in exactly whichever direction they wish to go.  I don't think we've ever had a six month old crawler before, and here we have two!  And now is when I madly start to think of how to babyproof.

::Which means we have to enjoy our baby holding while we can!  I think we would be perfectly happy to keep these two girls as little babies for a little while longer, but they are eager for independence, and are well on their way towards attaining it.  Could someone please invent a way to freeze babies in time for a little while?  Any inventors out there?

::"I have something to tell you!" he tells me every morning when he wakes up.  "Today I will be" and then he inserts whoever the imaginary of the character might be.  Spiderman (though he's only ever encountered him in a book!), or a superhero, or a fireman.  He lives in his imagination, this one, and it's the most entertaining thing for all of us.  Yesterday, we spent the whole morning awaiting Spiderman, who was coming over for lunch ("Today I will be Spiderman's friend" was yesterday's announcement).  It turns out Spiderman likes to eat chicken, broccoli, eggs, pasta, and rice.  You know, good growing food.  Those superheros really need a lot of growing food.

::We walked down to see the fireworks with my sister, Aunt Irene, and cousin Grace (with Zosia and Lily, above).  After a couple of hours of rolling around the biggest hill in the neighborhood with every kid for a five mile radius, the fireworks finally went off.  Our big kids were pretty happy when they finally collapsed into bed at eleven at night.  The wild running, the noisy fireworks, the walk home in the dark, it's just the sort of thing I know will make a lasting memory.