Saturday, April 14, 2018

On Attempting to Be at Peace









"Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day.  Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.  Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations, and say continually:  'The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart has trusted in Him and I am helped.  He is not only with me but in me and I in Him."
~St. Francis de Sales

Mary Lenaburg had this quote printed on a handout that she passed around at a women's retreat last weekend that I attended and the message couldn't have been more timely for me--although it's certainly easier said than done.  To say I've been entertaining anxious thoughts as of late would be a bit of an understatement.  Any of you who know our story know that I've lost two babies in my second trimester over the past few years so I'm, I would say understandably, a bit anxious until I can at least feel my babies kicking and have a little reassurance of their well being. 

I just had my sixteen week visit last week, and everything was completely normal, but I went about preparing for that visit in a way that probably wasn't.  Before every second trimester prenatal visit I find myself mentally preparing to not hear a heartbeat.  To see that concerned look in the doctor's eyes as they're wielding the doppler.  To have to deliver the baby that afternoon.  So, instead of being excited to see how the baby's doing I spend the days prior to my appointments:

  • cleaning the house in case we have to call in friends to stay with the children while I'm in the hospital.  
  • checking to see whose feast day coincides with the day of the appointment so I'll have a name ready just in case (thankfully, we won't be adding a Julius to the family this year).  
  • sitting down and realizing that my heart is racing because I'm having a bit of an anxiety attack without even realizing that I was worried in the first place.  
  • giving myself a pedicure because you forfeit enough dignity when you're delivering a baby as it is--you should at least be able to look down and see that your toes are presentable even if nothing else is. 
  • and just sitting around in general and imaging the worst.  

I'm a bit of a mess.  

Intellectually, I know that God will give me the strength to bear whatever comes because He has before.  I shouldn't worry.  I should assume everything is fine unless I find out otherwise.*  On the other hand, emotionally, I still haven't unpacked my box of maternity clothes, and it's not because I don't need them yet.  I've just been taking out what I need to wear and then putting it back in the box once it's clean again.  If you've ever had to take all the maternity clothes out of your closet and prematurely pack them back up in a box you understand my hesitancy.  

I've got my big ultrasound in two weeks and then another appointment two weeks after that so I don't have any more huge lapses of time to go without checking in on the baby.  Maybe after those I'll finally unpack my maternity clothes into my actual closet.  In the meantime I'll just keep reading this quote that I ripped off of the bottom of the handout and attached to my refrigerator with a magnet and try my best to be at peace.** 

It does help to have friends who suggest lovely nature walks to see the bluebells, even if nature walks with children are never quite as relaxing as you imagine they will be.  Especially when it's eighty degrees and they opt to carry Nerf guns in lieu of water bottles.  Also, I can't believe we've lived here for four years and this is the first time we've gone to see the bluebells.  


*I totally just had to change this from "until" to "unless."  Unless we find out something's wrong, not until.  We aren't necessarily going to find out that something's wrong.  I really am a mess.  
**Okay actually it's being held up with one end of a magnetic curtain rod that the owners of our house left behind so it looks even more classy than you are imagining.  

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Day


















This year we decided to once again invite too many people to comfortably fit inside our house over for Easter and luckily the weather held out so we could be mostly in the backyard.   Our general hospitality plan is to invite everyone we know over and hope for the best and so far it's always worked out just fine! 

In the morning we went with our usual Easter routine and attended early mass and then came home and had a forced photo shoot before the kids were allowed to get into the house and hunt for their baskets.  Once everyone devoured their chocolates we did some major last minute tidying up and food prep before our guests arrived.  We got everything done in the nick of time, mostly because we sent the children outside so they would stop destroying every room as soon as I cleaned it up, like the darling little tornadoes of destruction that they are.  That and Chris strapped Christopher to his back. 

It's possible that I went a little overboard in making our cascarones this year.  We ended up with about 380 eggs give or take those that succumbed to some rather successful baby sneak attacks.  Our annual hunt was longer than ever since we had more eggs than ever, but in the end it was Margaret who had the glitter smashed into her hair.  She was fairly inconsolable about being hit in the head with an egg, but she eventually calmed down when she realized that she got the giant golden rabbit as her prize. Also, I probably should have listened to Chris when he suggested something other than glitter in the prize egg since it's so hard to get out of hair. 

I think everyone enjoyed themselves, but I should have been paying more attention as our guests were leaving because somehow we were left with two cakes, a pie, a bag of cookies, a sweet bread, two bags of chocolate covered pretzels, and six cupcakes.  I guess it's a good thing the Easter season lasts so long because we have desserts enough to feast through the whole thing :) 

I hope you all are enjoying your own Easter festivities and that no one else is having to clean glitter out of their children's hair!


Friday, February 2, 2018

On Turning Five










We had a bit of an emotionally draining week here at the Reintjes house but you can't let a little thing like that put a damper on birthday festivities.  I didn't manage to take many pictures of the actual day, it being a very busy regular Friday, but I did get a fair few of the previous day's spectacularly messy cake preparations. 

And yes, all of the children are sitting on the counter, and yes, there were eggs in the batter.  We live dangerously here.  Very, very, dangerously. 

At lunchtime Henry came up and whispered a request for me to drive everyone over to the local variety store after swim lessons in my sneakiest manner so that he could buy a birthday gift for John himself with his own money.  He picked out two packs of Pokemon cards, which John was ecstatic about receiving since the house rules are that mommy and daddy will under no circumstances spend money on them.  Judge if you must, but the kids all go through phases of wanting all the cards and then alternatively giving them all away to the neighbors in passionate fits of generosity.  That or they go through the washing machine and all that's left of them is that little bit of shiny paper in the pockets to let you know what once was.  So far John hasn't given any of the cards away, but he did immediately divide up all the coins he got from grandma and grandpa between his siblings.  He's a sweetheart that son of mine. 

When I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday he said without hesitation that he wanted to ride on a ferris wheel and eat fish sticks and french fries.  Luckily there is a rather large ferris wheel nearby at the National Harbor so Chris came home early from work to take him after his very fancy birthday dinner.  John was half asleep since it was so late at night (i.e. after seven) but I think he enjoyed himself, especially having all that special one on one time with daddy. 

Five is such a heart tugging birthday, they're so grown up once they're five.  Even if they do still stick their whole heads into the mixing bowl to lick it clean.     


Monday, January 29, 2018

On Weekending in Vermont, in January










Chris is going back to school next year to get his LLM in Environmental Law.  He's been accepted to programs in Colorado, here in DC and Vermont but we're really hoping the Navy sends him to Vermont.  We get an opinion but not really a say, so we're waiting for the final word.  Vermont has the best program and the town is just adorable.  We spent the weekend there, just Chris, me, and the baby, touring the law school and looking at houses.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I don't think we met an unfriendly person on our entire trip.  Vermont Law School is apparently the only law school in the country that is situated in a town without a stop light.  You could walk across the whole town in less than ten minutes--there's a village square with a free ice-skating rink, a food co-op, a smattering of little restaurants and bars kept alive by the law students, a shallow river running through it all, and the cutest little public library you ever saw.  Pretty much our dream place to live and a far cry from our current location right outside DC. 

Also it was very cold and covered with ice, but I suppose nowhere is perfect.

When Chris got his acceptance package, a copy of yes! magazine was included.  I flipped through it and immediately texted pictures of the most outrageous parts to a friend with an, "oh no, look what we've gotten ourselves into now" sentiment attached.  I mean, we are clearly not the typical applicants to this school.  We don't hold all the right opinions and we obviously have more children than is appropriate given the horrific strain they will eventually be putting on the world's future resources.  But as I sat down to actually give the thing a fair reading, I realized that it contained a really great article that I had read online just a few days before, not realizing it's source.  And then I thought, I'm a jerk.  

Now the general level of discourse in this particular magazine isn't great, my first impression was that it was mostly a manifesto against the president, and no matter who that level of vitriol is directed at I'm not really interested in reading it.  But if you can overlook it, and I really tried, there were plenty of things that I agreed with and places where I certainly had common ground with the authors.  The tone of the thing in general just made those places difficult to dig out.  I'm hoping that next year will provide opportunities for lots of real discussions and sharing of different perspectives with the other students we'll be meeting.  The house we've got our eye on is right next to the school and would be perfect for dinner parties and late night conversations with new friends just like we had when Chris was in law school in Pennsylvania one hundred years ago.  Give or take. 

And if it's one thing I know law students want it's free home cooked meals.  If you cook it, they will come.  

Just to clarify I certainly do care about the environment--just in more of a Wendell Berry way than say, an Al Gore way.  If that makes sense?  This article is great and describes the importance of provision and good stewardship of our world right now instead of a vague and terrifying fear of future disaster.  I know, it's another yes! article.  I found it when I was searching for the first one.  I'm still not subscribing :) 

And if you like that little taste of Wendell Berry, may I recommend his newest book (affiliate link), The Art of Loading Brush.  I've only read the first two essays and I usually don't recommend things I haven't finished, but they were amazing and really flesh out the ideas in the article further.  And then once you've finished that book you should probably just go on and read literally anything else you can find by him--there are more books of essays, poetry, fiction.  You can't go wrong. 

So, to recap:  we may or may not be moving to Vermont this summer, we are cautiously optimistic that we will but also trying not to get our hopes up, I'm occasionally guilty of judging books by their very liberal covers but I'm working on it, I really love Wendell Berry and you should too.

And if anyone has tips on Vermont living I'd love to hear them! 





Thursday, January 11, 2018

On an Outdoorsy Christmas













We spent the second half of our Christmas break mostly outside--and by "we" I mean mostly Chris and the children.  I really am a cold weather wimp, but to be fair it was awfully cold for the baby out there.  We made Christmas for the animals and hung up our birdseed ornaments just in time for the snow to hit.  Chris had the most fun ever on a nature walk when he realized that the Potomac River was frozen over enough to walk out on and explore.  He kept coming up with excuses to drive the children places so that he could stop with them and go back out on the ice.  I can appreciate how fun it must have been and I'm also glad I wasn't there to ruin it with my worrying.  That's the kind of adventure it's better to hear about later, after the fact, when you know nobody actually fell through the ice ne'er to be seen again. 

We had a very successful fondue night, New Year's Eve celebration and the next day we celebrated my birthday with a low key lunch at Chris' favorite restaurant.  I also got a night out with a dear friend who obviously understands me since she gifted me the most adorable little bit of honey I've ever seen.  Of course a bit of adult conversation with no children screaming in the background was all the gift I needed :) 

I also made an epiphany cake that involved candying grapefruit peels which I have never attempted before but were pretty tasty if I do say so myself.  Of course the children didn't actually eat the Epiphany cake since it also included dried fruit, but they did dig through their pieces with forks until someone found a gold coin.  I had ordered a bit of a prize for the king or queen but it never actually arrived, which reminds me that I should check on that again.  I got a Christmas jigsaw puzzle with a roll up mat for the kids as one last Christmas present and we all had a pretty good time piecing it together. 

Alas.

Once we were done we found that we were missing one piece.  One piece.  I think it would have been better if three or four had disappeared--at least then we wouldn't have been so close to actually finishing the thing.  Now I'm not sure what to do with the puzzle.  Keep it for next year and hope the piece reappears which it never, never will?  Or throw it away knowing that as soon as it's gone the piece will miraculously reemerge somewhere exceedingly unlikely that I never thought to check?  It's quite the jigsaw puzzle conundrum. 

We took the tree down on Epiphany and had a giant, and I do mean giant, tree burning bonfire.  I mean if the tree must come down, at least you can have the satisfaction of watching it burn.  It really takes the sting out of the lack of twinkle lights in the house. 

How did you wrap up your Twelve Days of Christmas?  Did you let your children do anything dangerous?  Or perhaps light anything exciting on fire? :) 
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