Thursday, February 27, 2014

Snowy Days


Two consecutive days now of a fluffy, sticky, picturesque snowfall in the morning that then proceeds to melt by dinnertime.  I feel like I'm living in a snowglobe, it's so lovely.  After a week of soaking up every bit of sunlight and warm air available (it was in the 60's this weekend!), we were actually ready to have a couple of days inside, enjoying one another's company and some more introspective pursuits (like, if you're a "big girl" in the family, listening to the Frozen soundtrack approximately 100 times.  I'm not kidding guys, that thing is addictive)

I made a fire yesterday, and it actually lit up and everything!  There's something so quieting and mesmerizing about a fire.  All the children just seem to gather around it.  Today, we had chicken stock simmering on the stove with some leftover chicken bones, which eventually was transformed into a beef stew with whatever I could find in the fridge. I tried my hand at making this bread, and it is aaaamazing!  You start it in the evening the night before you want to make it, and it requires essentially no hands on work at all, and only three ingredients.  Then you bake it in a dutch oven, an voila!  It makes the most delicious, crusty loaf.  I am scratching my head and wondering why this isn't the recipe I've used every single time I've made bread before.  Who knew you could bake bread in a dutch oven?

The twins are two months old today (Clara stretching above, Dorothy smiling).  I meant to make a cake today, but Miss Dorothy was wanting some holding (so happy when I'm holding her, that one), and so that is just what I did instead.  The babies have become super social in the last week, and seem to adore their older sisters the most.  They have huge stretches when we take them out of their swaddles, love it when I vacuum (first and possibly last time in my adult life that my floors will be this clean), and adore taking baths.  And give us the most sunny and beautiful little smiles.  Such sweet little girls.  I have a feeling two months old is going to be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Two Takes

:: A baby on the changing table, loving the floating birds.
::I heard her tiptoeing towards the room, and when I walked in and found her whispering loving words, she looked at me and smiled the sweetest smile.

::With Clara, my sleepy weekend companion.
::I looked up and realized that Ben, taking the picture while holding Dorothy, was about to lose his grip on the baby.  Don't worry, he caught her.
::A double burping job, performed by an absolute pro.
::"You should see my back!  It's covered in spit-up!"  And so here it is.
::There really is no point in making a single recipe of anything around here anymore.  A double recipe either gets eaten, shared with friends, or frozen for future use.  Isn't it a fun challenge to remake one meal into something new?
::We have been really into cornbread, baked in double (or triple) batches, of course.
::Dorothy
::Clara

I think they look entirely different, don't you?  
::I didn't take a single. picture. at. the. baptism.  Eek, I'm so bad about that sort of thing.  But I couldn't help capturing my cuties on our way back home (bowties worn by the gentlemen of their own volition!)
::I love their sweet faces squinting into the bright light.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Baptisms


Clara and Dorothy were baptized on Saturday.  Brought forth to new life.  "Made a child of God," as Zosia explained to me.  "Made holy," as Lily put it.  Amid cries (theirs) and mistakes (the priest's, who accidentally switched their names!).  It was the perfect type of sacrament, the one where God breaks through into the totally ordinary, the mundane, the messy.  I held Dorothy as water was poured over her, and she grew silent and looked up with wide eyes.  Curious, awake, and trusting.  We are so lucky to have these two beautiful eternal souls placed in our family.  To be surrounded by a community that loves and supports both us and them as we seek to find God in our midst.  

In the afternoon, back at home, Clara and Dorothy's faces opened into the most beautiful wide smiles.  Their first true smiles on a most joyful day.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Waffles, Birthdays, Names and New Things


Oh, friends.  What a week.  Grief is such a flirtatious thing.  Gripping you as it does, and then letting you go, only to take hold once again.  Here and there.  With each day, we are looking around and realizing that our family is here, there is beauty around us, and that we can start to let go.  Losing such a dear old friend is just never fun, but we are able to share little stories about her.  The kids can say things like, "Oh, that was weird.  I just walked up to open the front door, and Selma wasn't there barking."  Noticing the shifts.  Seeing that it's okay, even though it's not the same.  Trusting that God is always creating something new.

We made yeast waffles this weekend (with some homemade wild blueberry syrup: delicious!), and they were a huge hit.  I love that you can just let them rise in the fridge over night, because I am a major breakfast fan, but with a house full of children, you just can't endeavor on a breakfast project that requires an hour long rise in the morning.  I am actually feeling optimistic about making these during the week sometimes.

Valentines flowers are lingering on mantles and counters, still looking beautiful, although a bit tired.  Roses and tulips.  So lovely.

We celebrated Omi's birthday earlier this week.  Omi, Ben's mom, is so lovely, kind, and giving.  Truly an example of Christ to those around her.  Oh, and she happens to be gluten free, which inspires us to attempt new gluten free recipes.  After the store was out of almond flour, we went back to our old standby gluten free carrot cake, which I think turned out pretty well (the trick is not undercooking it, I've learned!  I err on the side of overcooking this recipe).

Which reminds me, did I ever mention Clara and Dorothy's middle names?  Clara Gabriele and Dorothy Eva.  Named for Ben's mom and mine, both beautiful, strong, faithful women who have created quite a legacy for themselves.  We are very close to both of them, and as luck would have it, they are both very involved in our childrens' lives.  And they are also good friends with one another, which is a beautiful thing.  We have discussed using both of their names as first or middle names for children before, but it has always come down to this: we just couldn't choose one over the other, and didn't want to seem like we were picking a favorite grandma.  Who wants to create jealousy upon the naming of a child?  And yet we love both of their names.  When we found out we were having twins (identical twins!) we immediately knew their middle names.  Before picking their first names.  Two grandmas, two sweet little girls who are exactly the same.  Zosia has taken to calling them "Dorothy Baba" and "Clara Omi."  

(that last picture is my mom with Dorothy from several weeks ago.  Looking at it makes me realize just how much those babies have grown!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Selma



We only stopped at the pet store to pick up some bird feed for our cockatiel, Oliver.  When we saw a pet adoption fair going on, I asked, could we pleeease just go over and take a look?  Ben said yes.  When they mentioned that there were many dogs that just needed foster homes, I looked at him pleadingly.  Could we pleeease just foster a dog for a week?  After all, it was my spring break and a dog could keep me company on runs.  Hesitantly, quite hesitantly, Ben said yes.  The dog we were looking at, an older boxer, already had a foster home, it turned out.  But a little black puppy, the runt of her litter, was going to be spending the first night of her life away from her mother, in a kennel.  Rescued from a crack house.  The rest of her siblings (puffy little things which told of their chow lineage) had been adopted that day.  Would we consider fostering her for the week?

Well, you can probably guess what happened.  We took her home for the week.  The next week, we brought her back to the pet adoption fair, during which I spent the entire hour crying into a pillow because I just loved this little puppy so so much and couldn't bear the thought of her going to another home.  When we went back at the end of the hour, I offered a million whispered thanks that she was still there.  We really had no business owning a dog.  We were both full time students.  Neither of us had jobs, and we were about to move across the country.  I don't think either of us even know whether our apartment allowed dogs.  Well, we adopted her that day, and that was that.

She was really our first baby.  She smiled when she saw you, would lay down spread eagle in any puddle she could find, and (we learned much, much later) loved to eat poopy baby diapers (yuck!).  She seemed almost halfway between a dog and a cat.  Independent and calm, not yippy or needy.  We loved her so incredibly much.

In our Boston days, we would spend the afternoons, after work and school, watching her frolic and play with other dogs at the neighborhood dog park.  She came with us to restaurants and many a hike.  And even though it was my love that brought her into the family, it was Ben's love she sought out.  Her life was based entirely on getting his approval, and she really considered herself to be his dog, and he was the sweetest owner.

She famously caught a porcupine one summer at the family cabin.  She swam with the best of them. She made many canine friends along the way.  She thought herself a hunter, and caught a chipmunk, a squirrel, and almost a fawn one time.  Those were her proudest moments.  And ran like a crazy thing when at play, which ultimately resulted in a knee surgery some years ago.  Our sweet and rambunctious puppy.

She graciously welcomed a baby into the family.  And then another.  And another.  And finally, two more.  And in these last years of her life, she became, much to our surprise, a working dog.  Guarding the house with a zeal and devotion that permeated the entirety of our little home.  To an outsider, she seemed fierce (and, truth be told, we found ourselves apologizing for her behavior more than we would have liked!).  But to our family, she was a sweet, mellow guardian.  Gentle with our little ones, even when they got in her face, unassuming and calm.  

Her final months, she developed stomach problems which became recurrent.  She lost so much weight and could hardly eat a thing.  When we found a medicine that seemed to make her feel better, we were so thankful.  She was eating voraciously, had her playful puppy spirit.  A wonderful few months.  We walked her and played with her and gave her a daily meal of human food: a full pound of ground beef with equal parts rice.  She was entirely spoiled.  She accompanied us on that five mile labor inducing walk for the twins, and Ben and I took such joy in watching her chase squirrels.  Just the three of us, like the old days.

In the end, the medicine couldn't save her.  When she refused food, and then water, we knew that it was time.  She was limp and lethargic, and looking into her eyes, she knew it, too.  The last time I called her in from the backyard, that wonderful backyard where she loved to chase squirrels and birds and children, she paused.  Entirely unlike herself.  She paused, and pensively looked around, taking it all in.  As if to offer thanks for this space, this life, this family.  You cannot make this stuff up.  We all had a chance to say goodbye.  She knew, and we knew, and Ben held her as she took her final breaths.  She was in the arms of her beloved master.

Our hearts are more than a little broken at the moment.  We still year phantom footsteps in the evening. We go to let her back in from the yard, or give her her medicine, or give her dinner scraps as we are clearing the table.  And then we remember and our hearts break all over again.  This will take time.  But more than sorrow, I am left with the most incredible sense of gratitude.  For this sweet little puppy that stole our hearts, and taught us how to love so deeply, and then just left the world as quietly and unassumingly as she entered it. And we were lucky enough to love her along the way.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day


Our Valentine's party got called off due to the snow, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate, right?  We made valentines, hung our obligatory pink pom poms (which will stay up at least until Lily's birthday in April, but have occasionally stayed up until the following year's Christmas season!  Yikes!), and made some strawberry heart thumb print cookies, as requested by Ben.

And, after unsuccessfully starting two books, I finally settled on one of Zosia's books.   Have you guys read the Penderwick books?  They are so sweet, and just about right for my current attention span.

I promised Ben I would be his valentine, but I must admit, there are five very adorable family members who are vying for my love!  Well, even with two new twinsies, I think Ben is the winner.  And we're actually going out on a date this weekend.  Eee!