Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Inside and Out, and the Changing of Seasons

Hi there!  Happy fall?  Not really yet for us, but people keep telling me it's coming one of these days.  The other day the girls and I were riding bikes to school on a pleasant 65 degree morning, and we passed another cyclist who was wearing mittens and a hat, I kid you not.  Oh, that gave me a good chuckle, because these Californians are soft when it comes to the weather.  Here in San Jose it is just about always sunny and pleasant, usually somewhere in the 70s or 80s, and would you believe I miss moody weather?!  The other weekend we went up to San Francisco for the first time with some friends and the city was covered with a dense fog, and it was the perfect change of pace.  Ha!  Who would ever guess it would be the rain, the clouds, the unexpected chills that I would miss most.

On the home front, things have pleasantly full.  We have settled into a sustainable and energizing rhythm of life, with each member of the family finding his or her own routine, all brought together by the gatherings of our whole family together.  School, and play, and little adventures, and work, all beginning and ending together in what has come to feel like our home.  All of those little rituals, like gathering together for dinner, reading stories before bed together, making something special for breakfast on the weekends, seem quaint and charming when your children are all little, but as they start to increasingly venture out into the world, those little acts become the thread that hold the family together.  I have noticed what fullness and joy they offer, even on those days that a certain pair of toddler girls sit at the table for about twenty seconds before clearly declaring "All done!" and gesturing to be lifted onto Ben or my lap for the remainder of the meal.  One day they will linger at the table, but for now they wiggle and squirm in their 22 month old beauty, and I know I will miss it one day.

Just as reliably, I have started to feel times of day that were once an expected quiet time, time I could spend writing, or exercising, or cooking quietly, start to be filled with other meaningful things, like giving Hugo a reading lesson, or corralling a twin who has escaped from her crib ( I didn't know this could happen.  None of our kids have been crib escapers, and we had a very stressful couple of weeks before we discovered these miracle tents  which have been lifesavers.).  Luckily, we have a lot of support out here, so I've found ways to keep things feeling sustainable, ways to carve out time for meaningful things in new places.  Flexibility and resilience seem to be such key parenting traits, I pray I will increase in both of those things!

It's funny that even though the weather hasn't changed for us, I am still feeling the pull of the changing seasons-- cooking stews and soups, any recipe I can find that includes pumpkin, and leaving blankets around the house (which we use every single morning and evening, because it does get chilly!).  I think as a lifetime east coaster those seasonal rhythms will be something I can never shake.  And our ten day forecast includes three days with a high in the 60s, so maybe fall is coming our way after all (fingers crossed!).  

And with that I'm off to work on some Halloween costumes.  Halloween is sort of a big deal around here, and for the first time ever we have a whole family theme costume!  I can't wait to show you!  Oh, and I'm suddenly quite pregnant!  I have a lot to fill you in on!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Exploring California, Yes They're All Mine, and Other Things

Having visitors is the very best excuse to get out and see new places!  The big girls have had the week off of school, and that paired with Omi and Granddad visiting has meant lots of trips to parks, museums, brunch places, and natural wonders (just the regular tourist stuff, right?!).  There was a big neighborhood parade (so cute!), some new-to-us local parks.  We live ridiculously close to some redwood groves, and visiting has been on our "to do" list ever since we moved here.  I think if I knew how overwhelmingly magnificent, how at once ethereal and majestic and wholly earthy they were, I would have gone the second we got here!  Seriously, I loved being among those redwoods, and there is something mind blowing about standing in the midst of these towering beings that are thousands of years old.  Wow.

I have been thinking lately about this fruitful family of ours, partly because I'm going to be needing another baby chick for my favorite necklace, which Ben got me when the twins were born.  We're marching right along here, you guys!  But honestly, there are very few days when I'm not reminded in some way of the fact that this family of ours is quite unusual.  Just yesterday we were riding our bikes (Ben, Zosia and Lily on a bike, Hugo on a balance bike-- that kid can go full speed, or as he would say "double speed!!", and me on my bike with one twin in a baby seat and one twin in a trailer) in downtown San Jose.  We had gone on a late afternoon trip to the Discovery Museum, met Ben up, and gone for a leisurely ride through the downtown, by the art museum, park with fountains, and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph.  At one moment Ben and I looked back at the kids and saw that the hipster on the sidewalk was smiling and taking photos of our family.  Ha!  We spent the rest of the ride debating whether we are instagram gold or simply a freak show.  Maybe somewhere in between?  :-)  

Now that I'm wearing this pregnancy on my sleeve, or on my belly, as you would have it, it's fun to respond to the question of "Is this your first?" with a relaxed, "No, it's my sixth."  You can literally see the incomprehension and confusion take hold of the poor stranger's face as they try to digest the information they have just received because hey, we're young!  We have a lot of kids!  I am happy to report that every single person I can think of has responded, after their incredulity has worn off, with either encouragement or an anecdote of some great big family they have known.  It's nice to know that when you enter the world with kindness and open arms, it sometimes (often?) responds in kind.

And speaking of welcoming the world with kindness and open arms, for those of you who, like us, don't actually have cable TV and didn't get the chance to follow the papal visit as closely as you might have liked to, set aside 20 minutes and watch this homily from the World Meeting of Families.  My dad passed it along, saying he found it "absolutely fantastic."  I watched every word, and I agree!  Let's create a space for beauty, truth, and goodness in our families where we can open our arms to the incredible creative power of God.  Love it!