Monday, October 31, 2011

autumnal reflection: to everything, a season.


(Source: We Heart It)

With every change of a season, it seems there is always a moment of pause and reflection to look back to where things were last year, a few years ago, or even remembering as far back as childhood. Certain smells, a feeling in the air; these things don't stand alone. Like the birds and woodland creatures, who instinctively know that it's time to head south, or eat more acorns, we have something inside us that knows that a shift is occuring, even when we can't see the leaves turning or see the temperature change on the thermometer. Have you ever walked outside and, barring any obvious evidence, said, "It feels like Fall" or "It feels like Spring"?

This year has been a strange one for me, with brand new experiences and changes that I never could have anticipated: 

We have twins. I was so sick for most of my pregnancy, starting the week of Christmas 2010. I went into pre-term labor at 31 weeks. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks. My water broke and my babies were born 5 weeks early. My sweet daughters were in the NICU for 16 days. I lived in the hospital from the first of June until the end of July. August, they were home. We're still finding the rhythm of our new life together.

Afton and daddy

Ruthie and daddy
It feels like just yesterday that Andy and I were leaving for an absolutely beautiful Fall in Europe. We left the end of September, and had been there a month by now. Where were we on Halloween? I have to go back to our pictures and look. We were in Cinque Terre, Italy with my aunt and uncle. Oh, to be back on the coastal cliffs, hiking through vineyards and enjoying wine, gelato, and fresh anchovies!

Italian coast
(Cinque Terre, Italy)

Now, I am here in my pajamas watching my two precious daughters nap. A very different life, and I feel older. I am a deeper person. A year ago, I was collecting souvenirs and memories of canal boats, gastronomy and architecture. They sit on my shelves and hang from my walls and surround me as I go about my day, caring for these little souls that bring me more joy than I could have ever imagined.

I don't necessarily wish to go back and be the carefree young married couple of one year ago that we were, going wherever and doing whatever we wanted; it's the memories we made that keep me smiling about the richness of my life and, ironically, keep me here in the moment, knowing firsthand how quickly time passes.

The trees are a little more bare every time I venture outdoors, and I want to take a moment to breathe in the smell of leaves and moss. Pretty soon, the smell will shift to a hoary, woody smell. Take a moment with me to recall your own past autumns, and think about what made them memorable.

People tell me to cherish this time in life, when the girls aren't mobile and are still cuddly and dependent, and I truly feel that I am taking their advice to heart and doing just that.

This is what I am taking away from my moment of seasonal reflection: Moments of relational joy create memories that last a lifetime. Be here, now, in the moment, and breathe it in deeply. 

This post is part of FTLOB's "Prompt Me"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

cozy little bears.

I know I posted this photo below when I wrote about our trip to the coast, but I'm also entering it into Paper Mama's October Photo Challenge, and now linking up with Breena at Life As This Mommy Knows It, because I love it that much!


Afton/Ruthie, 15 weeks.

The Paper Mama

 Look Whooooo’s Snapping

a coastal rock around the clock.

This past week was Andy's week off before he starts student teaching. We both agreed that it would be nice to "get away", so we booked a hotel room at the coast and crossed our fingers that we could actually pull it off.

Manzanita is a beautiful little beach town about an hour and half from Portland. Supposedly, it sits inside a "weather donut" (scientific, I know) that allows it to be sunny and gorgeous even when other parts of the coast are wrapped up in fog. We were lucky enough to experience this phenomenon on Tuesday! It was just beautiful. We cozied the girls up and strapped them into their buggy and off we went. The sound of the waves crashing was like their noise machine, only better, because it was real, and they fell to sleep pretty quickly.

Beach collage
 (still loving our Mountain Buggy Duet Stroller!)

Despite the sun, it was chilly, and after the sunset it was downright cold. We put the girls in their wraps, zipped up jackets over them, and went in search of some dinner. The one restaurant I had wanted to try was closed...the pub wouldn't let us in because of the No Minors policy, and the cafe at the top of the road would have worked if Ruthie and Afton would have stayed asleep...but they started fussing as we looked at the menus, so we bundled back up and decided that take out in the hotel room was our best bet. Andy walked across to the pub once more and ordered ribs to go. The sign of a good rib, to me, is when I can actually eat all of the meat off the bone. These were absolutely delicious. The homemade coleslaw was great too - made with cilantro!

Now came the fun part. We relaxed in our little room and at 10 p.m., all four of us went to bed. At 11, one of them woke up. At 12, another woke up. We then saw 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and finally 9 a.m. At 10, we were going to go crazy if we had to stay one more minute in the room. Check out was at 11, and at 10:59 we managed to get everything out. We were starving. We put the girls in their wraps once again and went to breakfast. They fell asleep because, of course, they were just as tired as we were, and they slept through our breakfast and coffee at Bread and Ocean.

We wanted to make the best of the trip, so we dutifully walked through the shops and admired the ocean view once more, but we were ready to leave. Coast trips are usually very restful and relaxing, and this just wasn't. Reality check! Of course not, I have two 15 week olds! I don't really know what we were thinking.

But it is funny to look back on, and a good "first" memory of our first trip as a family. How boring if it had all gone smoothly! I can see us, in a few years, telling the girls, "Once, we took you to the coast, and you woke up every single hour, except 5am!" And they'll love that story, because it was about them. 


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

pumpkin cupcake trifle.

This fall has been a busy one for our little family. Andy is getting ready to start student teaching, and his classwork on top of working full time and helping me with the girls leaves him little time to prepare. So, we're down here in Southern Oregon with my parents once again for some R & R. It is wonderful to have the extra hands!

My cousin Allie stayed over through the weekend and decided to bake pumpkin cupcakes with a cream cheese filling and chocolate ganache topping. Some of the cupcakes kept falling apart, so rather than waste any deliciousness, she layered the cake with the cream cheese filling and ganache and made a TRIFLE! It is one of the best pumpkin desserts I've ever had. The cupcakes are good, to be sure, but the trifle is ah-mazing. I think we've stumbled onto a secret family recipe and a new holiday tradition! Well, not so secret since I'm sharing it with you.

Take your basic pumpkin cupcake and frosting recipe, like this one from Smitten Kitchen + an easy chocolate ganache recipe from Emeril, and layer them in a pretty glass trifle dish (or tupperware, like Allie did, because we're professional around here) and let set in the fridge for a while, or as long as you can stand it.

Enjoy with coffee, or tea...or wine.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Full House MoMs Fall Resale

If you live in the Portland area, come check out the Full House MoMs Club's Fall Resale! Last I heard, there are over 20,000 items entered, all for great prices!

I'll be volunteering tomorrow afternoon, and I'm keeping my eye out for wooden toys and either an Ergo or Beco baby carrier. Last spring, we found some great wooden blocks and some books, some Green to Grow bottles, and an Ergo-attachable changing pad/tote that I take everywhere. Who knows what treasures I might find tomorrow?

See you there!

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