Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mardi Gras, Tradition, and Comfort

I try to keep some of my favorite French traditions alive in this American life. Of course, we will flip crêpes on Mardi Gras, with a coin in our palm, to ensure prosperity in the year ahead. Mainly because, well, crêpes! Also, it's comforting to know that this tradition may continue on for years to come. If  Fiona and Cyd have children of their own, I will be knocking on their door with my crêpe batter in hand, on the day of Mardi Gras. Mark my words.
The girls decided to get dressed up for the occasion. This included wearing eye shadow on their cheeks.

We also celebrated the New Orleans way, with a King Cake. Because we are a multi-cultural family, that's why. Also, frosting, sprinkles and tiny plastic babies are involved.

The children blindly chose their piece of cake, hoping to get the one with the baby.
Cyd won.
For dinner, I made roasted veggie and Gruyère grilled cheese sandwiches, because God knows we needed more carbs and grease to successfully top off this Fat Tuesday.
The ultimate comfort food.

In my defense, I ran 2.3 miles right before this meal, which cancelled out at least one bite of King Cake. Probably.

Peace out.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Spirit Animals and Scenic Hikes

When Fiona was a newborn, there was an owl who would hoot right outside our bedroom window around two in the morning, just like clockwork. As I sat up in bed nursing this tiny baby I didn't quite know or understand, the owl was a small slice of salvation from the fog of exhaustion and postpartum anxiety.

She became Fiona's owl.

Over the years, the owl has come back to check on us and the sound of her call always fills me with hope and love. Sometimes, she will sit in the large maple tree in our backyard and watch the house for hours. Once, while the kids were playing outside, she silently swooped in and perched herself on the swing set without being noticed. Cyd reached up on the rope of her swing and nearly touched her feathers.

Here she is, in all her glory:
With Cyd, it was all about the hawk. When I was pregnant with her, especially near the end, I saw hawks soaring overhead, or perched in unlikely places, on a regular basis. They were everywhere. Maybe I was more aware of them during that time, or maybe they were following me, knowing I was carrying their spirit in my womb, in my heart. When her time came to join our family, Cyd soared into her life, effortlessly, eyes wide open. 

Knowing these children of ours now, I really could just burst with the perfect truth of their spirit. Fiona, the brainy, introspective girl who always thinks first and finds pride in perfection. And Cyd, the quintessential free spirit, who is happiest naked, untethered from anything that restricts her body, mind and heart.

Just as I was tying these very words, Cyd came flying down the stairs singing: "I don't have to worry, I don't have to care, my coat is very furry, I'm a grizzly, grizzly bear." Seriously, I can't make this stuff up.

Since Fiona had Friday off, we decided to go to Turkey Run State Park for a long weekend. It happened to be their annual "Eagles in Flight" weekend.

The Eagle Watch event was on Saturday morning at 6:45 a.m. It was early and it was cold. And the coffee was weak. Enough said.

Fiona was sleepy.

Cyd was sleepy and frozen. Or maybe she was just annoyed that she had to wear so many layers of clothing.
We did see quite a few eagles flying overhead, but I wasn't able to capture any photos.

This guy, though, with his giant lens, shot great photos as well as videos of the 71 eagles who visited us that morning.
Lens envy, party of one.
It was thrilling to be able to see so many eagles at once but I have to say, not much compares to the magic of the unexpected appearance of a solitary bald eagle. Maybe I just don't want to share my eagles with a bunch of Eagle Watch strangers. Maybe I was cranky because it was early and cold on a Saturday morning and I hadn't had a decent dose of coffee. Maybe I'm just a selfish, horrible person who wants the eagles to fly only for me. Frankly, I don't know how you put up with me.
The rest of the weekend was fun and laid back. The Turkey Run Nature Center had craft stations set up for the kids. Because every family needs a bird feeder made out of a soy milk carton. 

The girls loved this sweet dog, who greeted us at one of the eagle nesting sites.

Owl girl.
Who turned the lights out?
Turkey Run really is a beautiful park. The winter landscape is especially lovely.

Stalactite swords!

Cyd discarded her hat. Pretty sure her blood is mixed with fire.

Feeding the birds at the Nature Center.
We weren't afraid.

I love Cyd's hand, reaching out to Laura.

Thank goodness she's wearing her cheek muffs.

Cyd photo bombed this lovely moment between her Aunt Chris and Uncle Daniel.

Peace and love.