11 months and lots of travels

February and the beginning of March have been ROUGH. I just had to look back at my google calendar to remind myself what we actually did because it is all a blur of snot and laundry and snuggles and so much time camped out on the living room carpet. We are SO so so ready for spring. For walks and swings and green growing things.

Baby life: 11 months. It has been an exciting couple of weeks, development-wise. Both Evelyn and Rowan have really ramped up the babbling – to us and to each other. There is occasional signing of ‘more’, ‘all done’, and ‘milk’, lots of waving from Evelyn and so much laughing, clapping and joy from Rowan.

Our little man has taken his first steps as he starts to lean into walking. Mostly he just cruises around the room at a rapid pace, briefly reaching out to touch the wall or a chair for a bit of balance as he jets off to find some forbidden item that we’ve left on too low a shelf. He loves to practice his balancing but only if you’re watching him every time. He has this funny kind of enthusiastic grunt that he does, arms flung up in the air to prove he’s not cheating. He takes it very seriously. Of course, with everything else Rowan is a cuddly little ray of sunshine, looking for opportunities to let out a joyous shriek of laughter.

Evelyn is a very passionate little girl, intensely throwing herself (sometimes literally) into whatever she does.Β She’s just learned how to push herself up to sitting and her army crawl is gaining speed every day. Yesterday she crawled into the bathroom and spent two full minutes testing out the echoes with repeated little shouts as she turned this way and that. This morning she worked diligently at trying to fling herself from the high chair. Sometimes she’ll sit, slowly examining each page of a book before she turns to the next. She’s such a paradox of patience and outrage, I love watching her little personality grow and deepen, she has such strong emotions in every direction and I find the wildness of it so beautiful.

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Somehow, we managed to work in two trips this month to see family and friends and I am so thankful. We have been feeling so burned out by this long wait on grad schools and the long days being holed up inside. The change of perspective and the the opportunity to talk about life and hear the stories of others is such a gift. I feel I’m learning to receive the hospitality of others with the open hands of gratitude. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity and love we’ve been given this past year, all of it sustaining and carrying us through the longest shortest days of this new life. These trips were no exception.

In Madison we were welcomed into the Benton family valentines and birthday parties, complete with chocolates on our pillows, fun new toys for the twins and large slices of the most decadent mousse cake I’ve ever tasted. Then there was a huge brunch with Andrea, Will and their wonderful kids and a cozy evening watching Downton and drinking tea with Aunt Karen and Uncle David (the resident birthday boy).

Drew somehow managed to land a simultaneous week off at both schools for spring break, so we took the opportunity to finally get up to Toronto for a visit! Gabe and Kayla just moved to Holland and welcomed us toΒ spend the night on our way to and from Toronto. We had such a wonderful time catching up and talking about the struggles and learning curve of starting life together in a new city. It was the perfect primer for our return to the city where we worked to figure out those same things just a few years ago.

It has been a whirlwind couple of days, exhausting in the best way as we scooted all over the city to spend our days with dear friends. We have been hosted by a favorite family of fellow Chicago transplants in their gorgeous home (Thank you, Michel family!). They’ve graciously absorbed our family chaos and their open-handedness has renewed and challenged my vision of hospitality. There is something so beautiful about being welcomed in to the sort of closeness where you can watch the rhythms of another family. I feel so privileged to have been able to learn about the style and habits of all of these dear friends as we’ve gathered over tea and cookies and warm meals this week. I have so much to learn about how to do this parenting life and so many wonderful, humble, wise, honest friends to learn from!

Here’s a recap, in pictures and comments:

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