Wednesday, September 23, 2015

This and That

::Our oven has been broken for going on three weeks, which means I have gotten very creative with dinner offerings!  I have realized just how much I rely on being able to throw something in the oven mid-day, cook it through the afternoon, and then serve it for dinner (allowing me to do the other many things I seem to need to do directly before dinner, such as homework, washing babies' hands and feet, or getting everyone out of the house for a walk or bike ride to keep people peppy).  Some non-oven favorites these past few weeks have included anything in the crockpot, cold dinners (like salads, cheese plates and vegetables, or boiled eggs), and then a few really fast dinners like gnocci, warmed up meatballs, and broccoli.  To tell you the truth, I've sort of found my oven free groove, I think!
::Clara has some very strong feelings about fashion choices.  Primarily, left to her own devices, her fall wardrobe would consist entirely of one of her older sibling's pajamas (preferably Hugo's), a bathing suit, or her own birthday suit.  She is actually sort of a genius when it comes to finding these things in the house, and once dressed in an actual baby outfit will immediately disappear upstairs, triumphantly returning with a bathing suit top, a set of pajamas, and a big smile on her face (clearly, it was simply a mistake she wasn't dressed in these things from the get go, right?!).  Dorothy shares these preferences but seems a little less stubborn about it all.  If you ever see one of the twins wearing something *other* than the above mentioned choices, know that it involved a great deal of cajoling, convincing, distraction, and possibly bribery.

::Hugo has started preschool at a lovely Montessori school, which means that the house is very quiet for a couple of hours every morning, he is exceptionally interested in helping around the house (thank you, Montessori method!), and he is officially growing up!  It's always so fun to see each of our children "go out into the world" in their own little ways, seeing how they interact with adults and kids, which activities they enjoy, and how they start to cultivate friendships and interests.  

It feels like the weather really wants to start cooling down around here.  We will have a couple of brisk mornings followed by a few really hot days.  When the mornings are cool, the big kids come down in the morning and immediately build a little nest for themselves, and it feels best to be in a sweater-- last weekend, we even had the outdoor fireplace going in the morning, and it was perfect. Needless to say, I am ready for fall to come!  

Ben's parents are visiting for a couple of weeks, and we've been loving their company.  They've had a pretty tough couple of years, and it amazes me how much love and patience they always have to share with all of us.  It is always a gift to find inspiration from those who have lived through more of life, seen more joys and sorrows, and have yet emerged with a strong sense of faith and purpose.  I always want to sit and take notes, because these things should be goals for all of us, right?  

Are you guys as excited as I am about the Pope's visit?!  I love this guy, not only because he is the spiritual leader of our church, but just because he is so authentically Catholic, lovingly and eloquently upholding the core orthodox teachings of our church (am I the only one who's puzzled by all these people on every possible side of the political spectrum who are outraged by things he's said?  Catholic teaching, you guys.  It's pretty constant, no surprises).  I'm sort of bummed I'm not on the East coast to soak in the atmosphere and energy, but I'm watching closely and praying for this visit!  

Monday, September 14, 2015

The News

Alright, let me update you, cliffs notes style.  We are starting to settle into routines here on the West Coast.  The kids are in school, we gather for dinner every night whether around our dining table or picnic table.  We have found a parish, a grocery store (along with an incredible bakery, a juice place which I believe several members of my family have become addicted to, some awesome ethnic food, and a children's book store which I already know is going to be the end of any budgeting attempts, because I have no greater weakness than good children's literature), and a really amazing babysitter.  All those little things that start to make a place feel familiar.

The twins are at a pretty adorable age.  They are talking *a lot* and suddenly have realized that they communication unlocks an entirely new world.  They are sweet and cuddly one minute, and a little like feral kittens the next, wrestling and pouncing on one another, and just when I think that maybe this particular twin game is not going to end well, they both burst into laughter.  Oh my goodness, it is like reading a gripping, unpredictable, terrifying, and then hilarious novel, being with these two.  I really love it.

We spend a lot of time outside-- biking to school, walking to the park, hiking, scootering in the neighborhood, or hanging out in the back yard.  We have had just enough weeks of cool and lovely mornings followed by warm afternoons, and then breezy evenings, that even I have been scoffing at this 100 degree temperature we have seen the past few days.  California, what is this?  We demand nothing less than perfection from you.

There is fruit everywhere.  Literally hanging from trees (that no one picks! Like, a tree filled with apricots in the middle of the street, or a tree with ripe asian pears, or a fig tree).  On many occasions we have made a snack of it, reaching up and plucking a piece of fruit on our way.  And then the farmers markets are amazing and cheap and plentiful (much more so than the grocery store, actually).

One beautiful, incredible, unexpected thing about this big family of ours is the complete security and sense of place that the children feel simply in the context of being with one another.  There's a way that our family functions as a little community.  Our kids play with each other a lot.  There is always something going on, someone to talk to, someone who is willing to pay your imaginary game of choice.  Don't get me wrong, we really miss the friends we've left behind, our neighborhood, our school, our church, and most of all our family.  That part of things will be hard no matter what.  But I take such comfort in watching our family pick up the ropes in an entirely new place with a sense of purpose and resolution on the other coast of this large country of ours.  I'm proud of them for their resilience and flexibility, for their openness to new experiences and appreciation of unexpected beauty.  I couldn't imagine another group of people I would rather be doing this with.

And speaking of children, guess what.  I'm pregnant!  22 weeks (!), feeling amazing, and officially entering that stage of pregnancy where I sleep with something like nine pillows to try to help obscure the fact that side sleeping is the worst (stomach sleeping all the way guys!).  Tonight at bedtime I told Hugo he could talk to the baby and the baby would hear and understand.  He looked up earnestly.  "I want to tell the baby the secrets of nature."  And then, leaning in to my stomach, whispering at a barely audible volume, "A spider monkey has no thumbs."  Oh my goodness, you guys, this is one lucky baby, to be entrusted with that type of information.  We are totally smitten, excited, and Clara and Dorothy are ready to start smothering this baby with love immediately.  Six!  Can you believe it?!