Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I keep looking at the photos on my cell phone this morning. I scroll back and forth between the pictures I took of the living room before and after I painted it last night. The living room. Our living room.

We bought a house, for the first time in our lives.

I've been gone such a long time from this space, from my writing. My world has been all I could handle, there was nothing left of me to put my thoughts into words. In this absence we have welcomed amazing joy, and been on a life raft in the middle of an ocean, barely hanging on.

There have been major car accidents, a very serious illness for our baby, postpartum depression for me, layoffs and an apprenticeship graduation, and too many housing moves to count. There have been endless late night discussions about where we should go next, where to stake our claim for the next 3-5 years. There have been endless late night discussions about when the right time is for me to more formally enter the workforce. There have been endless late night discussions about whether I want to go back to school or not. My little virgo temperament does not do well with that amount of flux.

When I entered that house, our house, I began to paint our colors and loving claim it for our own.  As I watched the old colors disappear under ours, It felt like I was placing a cap stone on the chaos of the last 18 months, casting a line towards a future that, while impossible to predict, looks calming from here.

I am hopeful that we will find calm, rhythm and routine, and that my heart can once again expand beyond myself to love others better.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Just Like That

Three days ago Cora was running around naked in the back yard, alternately soaking in her pool and drying off in the sun. Three days ago I didn't need to worry about layering clothing, or anything we left in the yard being rained on.

That was three days ago. Today we are wearing wool socks. Today the sky is grey, I reached for a scarf, and the girls wanted to cuddle under a blanket after they woke.  Harlow is teething terribly, she is super grumpy and has seemed on the verge of getting a cold for weeks. I woke feeling like I have a scratch in my throat and decided to head into the kitchen, where these battles are usually fought in our family, beginning with crushing endless garlic cloves. Today I have put away the pluots, and melons and the smell of sauteed onions, garlic, potatoes, and roasting squash are wafting from the kitchen.

Just like that it has become fall. Sure, there may be a few more sunny days, where it's hard to decide if a sweater is needed, but really, the change has come. I don't remember a seasonal change feeling this abrupt in the entire seven years I have called Portland my home. Perhaps it's because we were spoiled by an amazing string of weeks of beautiful sunny days throughout August and September, so that when the change came it came fast.

While I am observing my own personal mourning for the sun, I find that I am simultaneously anxious to get this show on the road. I love Autumn. Every single thing about it. While the Pacific Northwest lacks the glory and pageantry of my native New England, the change of the season here is still very satisfying, quiet, and sacred.

Yesterday we got some late afternoon playground fun in, finding this gigantic old metal spiral slide. They just don't make 'em like this anymore. It was almost too intimidating to attempt, and after three runs Scott thought he might vomit.

I'm telling you, this thing was FAST.

Climbing up to the sky with daddy right behind.

More and more every day, Cora is able to find new ways to play with her baby sister.

My heavy old friend the Dutch Oven was resurrected from it's hiding spot today. Hello old friend, time to get busy creating glorious comfort food. 

Today I made this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which was exactly what we needed. Warm, comforting, uncomplicated, and incredibly delicious! 

Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
2 teaspoons good olive oil
2 cups large-diced yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups large-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup French green lentils (7 ounces)
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and the carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
Meanwhile, place the canned plum tomatoes, including the juice, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse several times until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no stones in the package.
Add the tomatoes, lentils, broth, curry powder, thyme, salt and pepper to the pan. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Check occasionally to be sure the liquid is still simmering. Remove from the heat and allow the lentils to sit covered for another 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, season to taste and serve hot.
Source: Smitten Kitchen, link here.

Happy Fall Everyone!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sister Love

From the moment Harlow was born, Cora claimed her as her own. We encouraged this by referring to the baby as Cora's baby. I had braced myself for Cora to fully reject her new sister. Stories of toddlers hitting their newborn siblings played through my mind and I fully expected that behavior to manifest itself.

But of course that's not what happened, because Cora is her unique self, she is sweet and gentle and full of love. The look of wonder on her face as she met Harlow for the first time is something I will never forget. It was immediate hugs and joy, an awesome explosion of love.

Now, on the eve of Harlow's first birthday, there has been a shift in their relationship. Cora has fallen head over heels in love with her little sister. Of course there have been some rough spots in the last year, mostly around Harlow learning to crawl and claim toys for her own, but for the most part it has been patience and love. Recently, however, Cora's love for her little sister has become a fierce and powerful thing.

When she first wakes in the morning, Cora no longer runs to me, but runs to her sister and wraps her in hugs while whispering "Hi baby Harlow."  Last night the girls spent time with their babysitter, who was helping Cora create a picture of her family in a boat. Cora refused to put me or her dad in the picture, adamant that it is a picture of two sisters on a high seas adventure. I love this. I love her growing awareness of her special relationship with her sister, that it is of our family, but also transcends it. It is what I dreamt about and hoped for all throughout my pregnancy with Harlow. It was a difficult pregnancy in many ways, and chasing after my growing toddler seemed like a mountain of work. Exhaustion and extreme discomfort were my close friends, and when those days got too difficult, I would focus on the gift I was giving my two girls.  The gift of a lifetime of having a sister so close in age that they will never remember not having one another. And now, one year later, their love is blossoming right in front of my eyes, and I am full of joy.

Just Two Sisters Out On An Adventure

Oh The Love When Daddy Gets Home!