Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Joy



This past week we have somewhat substantially rearranged our house, attended each of the holiday events marked on our calendar, welcomed our first round of guests, and embarked upon the task of holiday baking.  The house currently smells like the poppy seed cake my sister baked with Zosia, Lily, and Hugo.  There are toys scattered here and there that my sweet sweet niece Grace was playing with just before they headed over to my parents' house.  There are closets filled with wrapped and unwrapped presents, and about three random things left on my shopping list, which is just as it always seems to be two days before Christmas despite my best intentions.  In other words, we are surrounded by such joy and life and beauty and imperfection, and I am grateful for all of it.

Sending blessings to each and every one of you this week.  May you feel the warmth of God dwelling among us, the promise of that first miraculous Christmas.  I hope to decorate the tree tonight, and can't wait to wake up tomorrow morning next to a husband who is officially on vacation (that is the best).  

***

And will you look at that, here I am, and it's Christmas Eve!  Lily made dinner for us yesterday: a spaghetti carbonara, which was so delicious that I will have to post the recipe here sometime.  I figured, with  all the holiday cooking going on, we might as well get the kids in on some of the action, and it was an absolute hit.  Lily can make dinner anytime, as far as I'm concerned.  

After the little kids were in bed, we finished watching The Nativity Story, and Ben and I made cookies and egg nog.  This morning, the kids and I decorated the tree.  The house will fill with family tonight, and I am really struck with just how perfect Christmas is with a household full of little children.  Messy, chaotic, loud, but absolutely perfect.  Wishing you Joy on this most joyful day, friends!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Preparing




::Clara's hair is always like this.  We think she must twist her hair while she sleeps?  We have tried combing, pinning, and wetting her hair to no avail.  You go, girl.  Rock that double faux hawk.  Besides, for now it helps everyone keep the twins straight.::

The season of visitors is upon us, and I for one, am absolutely delighted.  There is nothing more warming than the company of loved ones.  This fall I found myself deeply longing for connection with friends and family, so I'm feeling sort of giddy with the excitement of all of these visits coming up.  I know it might seem counter intuitive that inviting more people into a small house already bustling with activity would make things fall into place, but somehow it does!

The twins have really blossomed in the last week and a half or so.  All of a sudden, they have become these little meaning makers.  They search our faces for what we might mean by something, looking deeply into our eyes and then thinking things out.  "Dorothy is Mama's baby!" I will say slowly, pausing after each word, hugging Dorothy, and Dorothy smiles and laughs.  Then later, she will hold a little baby doll up to herself, and when I ask her if that is Dorothy's baby, she holds the doll close and gives her a kiss.  It's absolutely magical, watching it all unfold, and I am shocked and delighted with each of their discoveries as if they were my first babies!

We have made it a habit of having an Advent celebration in the evening with the older girls, generally after Hugo and the babies are in bed.  On Sundays we try to have some friends over and make more of a celebration, because after all, Sunday is always a feast day, and there is something especially meaningful about gathering in community to await the coming of Jesus.  We read a short excerpt from the day's gospel reading, along with a short reflection, and sometimes a few words about whatever feast day it might be.  We talk about the reading together, sing a few songs, pray together, and always enjoy a sweet treat.  There hasn't been a single day when our little celebration hasn't been meaningful to me, helping me to see things in a new light, or deepening my faith in a small or significant way.

Every weekend we've been trying to make some special Christmas-ey treat. This weekend that almost didn't happen between being our big Christmas party weekend (nice) and having a grumpy baby in the house (not so nice).  The big girls came to my rescue and helped me make Peppermint bark, which is a regular in our Advent rotation.  They've been helping since they were babies, so they were naturals.  

Oh, and somewhere in there, we got a little tabletop Christmas tree, which we will be slowly decorating over the next few weeks.  My only criteria was for it to be out. of. childrens'. reach.  If ever there was a year for such precaution, I think you would agree this is the year!  Look at those little babies move.  We are utterly outnumbered.  :-)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Slowly

::The nativity sets have come down from the attic, and we are figuring out which are safe for the babies (none of them).
::We have been gathering together each evening, reflecting on the gospel reading for the day, lighting a candle, singing a few Christmas carols (which means our candles and Carol book are still gracing the table when we're gathered for breakfast in the morning!),
and opening a single day of the Advent calendar (and one of the little baggies, which contain an ornament each).
::We have no Christmas tree yet, but the Advent star is up, and there are always blankets around the house which are crinkled with use.
::Or in use, depending on the moment you catch them.
::There are Christmas things appearing here and there, including Christmas cards, which we've started gathering on our mantle.
::Oh, there's Spiderman.  He has a way of making appearances in our house.
::I have strung up some twinkle lights in the basement, and finally sewed a cover for the TV, which makes hanging out down there so much more pleasant in the evenings.

Slowly, slowly, we are starting our preparations.  Once there was a day when I would spend a day doing a decorating blitz at the beginning of Advent.  Driven largely by necessity, we have shifted to a more gradual approach, and it's actually grown on me.  Every day we prepare the house and our hearts a little bit.  Perhaps it is hanging a decoration, baking a few cookies, or spending time in prayer.  For the time being it means there is a feeling of things being in progress, imperfect.  But isn't  that the nature of life?  We are enjoying each day of it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

About Clara


Little Clara seems to have taken a liking to accessories.  She is never as content as when donning a necklace, scarf, or, in this case, her brother's pajamas (which she has taken a particular liking to, going into his bedroom first thing in the morning and dragging them around the house).  She takes a few minutes to place them around her neck, gives them a mandatory chew or two, a looks around to see if perhaps she has an audience she can dazzle with her smile.  And of course she nearly always does.

Today she woke up early from her nap, and I tried to create a little barricaded playspace (within view of me) while I finished up exercising.  She scaled, careened, and contorted herself through every possible hurtle that I could dream up, greeting me with a sly smile on the other side.  She has the agility of a ninja, this one.

"The twins" are quite likely to remain in a pair for quite some time, but I am starting to see glimmers of individuality appearing!