Monday, April 26, 2010

touching ground

If Juniper were a Balinese baby, on her 6 month birthday there would have been a big ceremony and she would have touched the ground for the very first time.  In her book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert observed:
"The Balinese don't let their children touch the ground for the first six months of life, because newborn babies are considered to be gods sent straight from heaven, and you wouldn't let a god crawl around on the floor with all the toenail clippings and cigarette butts.  So babies are carried for those first six months, revered as minor deities.  If a baby dies before it is six months old, it is given a special cremation ceremony and the ashes are not placed in a human cemetery because this being was never human: it was only ever a god."  

Although Juniper has spent a lot of time playing on our living room floor and outside completely clothed, it just so happens that--mostly due to seasons and timing and the fact that we live in a northerly clime--she had never touched the ground.  So two days after her 6 month birthday (which, in our culture, is marked by weights, measures and vaccinations at the doc's), we came home to a warm, sunny spring day and let Juniper's feet touch the earth, skin-to-skin, for the very first time.

And now that I have a six month old, I can understand the whole purity thinking.  I approached J bug's 6 month birthday with the same sort of anxieties I had when I turned 25, then again when I turned 30 (and could probably anticipate this year, when I turn 35).  I sort of freaked out.  Oh my god!  I haven't taken enough pictures!  I'm behind in the baby book!  I haven't even....blah blah blah.  I felt like I had to document, document, document because the day our j bug turned 6 months old marked the end of pure, innocent babyhood.  So, when I was supposed to be home packing for a much-anticipated vacation,  instead I set up a make-shift studio: 
And my man came home for lunch, took a look around and was all, Huh.  I thought you were packing today?  And I was all bug-eyed, my hair flying every which way, the camera around my neck, But honey!  Juniper's going to be SIX MONTHS OLD TOMORROW!!  
So, here are a fraction of the photos I took that day:  

:: Here's Juniper looking like me:

:: Here's Juniper looking like her dad:

:: And because I'm currently obsessed with this sort of thing, here's J bug at 6 weeks and then again at 6 months: 
:: That week, we spent a few days hanging with Juniper's older cousin Owen and his mom.  When my husband got a whiff of one of Owen's poopy diapers he said, Can't we just breastfeed her until she can use the toilet on her own?  Right now, Juniper's poop (which, I'll admit, mostly ends up in the potty anyway--but so did Owen's until he started his current "potty pause") pretty much smells like a strong, European cheese.  The kind of thing people would pay a lot of money to eat.

In these next six months, my pure, innocent, European-cheese pooping baby will be no more.  In these next six months, Juniper will get teeth, learn to crawl on the ground (toenail clippings, cigarette butts and all), start eating solid human food, and yes, her shit will stink.  She may even learn to walk.  She may refuse the breast.  She will no longer be a baby.    

:: J bug is learning the finer points of using her hands.  Sometimes, she will lightly touch my hair, as though she just wants to feel it with her fingertips.  This is a huge improvement from last month, when she would pull my hair--hard--if it wasn't tied up.
:: And yes, she's still all about the feet.

::  At the doc's J bug weighed in at a healthy 17 1/2 pounds, more than doubling her birthweight.  With the vaccinations, she only cried for the actual shots, then stopped.  We were impressed.  We finished our trip to Missoula with Juniper's first ride on the famous, hand-carved carousel.  She slept through the whole thing.  
Missoula's carousel is extremely fast.  I mean, you really have to hold on and lean to the inside to keep from being flung off (not really, because you're required to strap yourself in with a leather belt, but still).  So my nephew's reaction to the ride was to lean into his mother and put his hands behind his head.  Hmmmm.  Future rodeo star?  (The photo was taken after the ride had stopped--it's too fast to focus!)  
:: Her dad is head-over-heels.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

golden cloves

golden cloves: kernels of goodness in lots of photos and little words from the last week
(Or rather, two weeks.  Warning: lots and lots of photos in this post.)

Or bust.  Our move date is set for the first week of May, yeah!

:: My man drove down to Wyoming to meet his new boss and check out our housing situation.  Short trip, but he missed us anyway.
:: We will have temporary employee housing, which is fabulous, but it is a little on the dingy side and much smaller than our current house.  So, aside from our daily walks, j bug and I have been holed up in the house, trying to slim down the ridiculous accumulation of stuff that happens to everyone except the most astute zen masters (of which I am not one).  We don't get much done.

:: And, oh, the teething...
 :: I love how quickly babies forget they were upset.  Living in the moment.  For many of us, our goal as an adult is to have the mind of a child.  You wouldn't think it would be so difficult.
:: Juniper is reaching and grabbing all the time.  Everything is fair game.  No thing is safe.
:: Here and there, we've had a few glimpses of the ornery toddler coming out in her.  So much fun!
:: Osa is getting more bold about butting in for her "me" time.
But Juniper loves smiling and laughing at Osa and pulling on her hair.
They are becoming quite the pair.

:: Finally,

She naps.

Monday, April 5, 2010

eggs and easter

Easter is the holiday I have most looked forward to celebrating with my kids.  Let me be so bold as to say, easter is one of the reasons I wanted to have kids.  Not having grown up in a religious family (and therefore not having celebrated the, er, resurrection of Christ--the adult part of the holiday), easter holidays have been significantly lacking in my life for the last 18 years.  Well, ever since mom quit hiding eggs, chocolate and jelly bellies anyway.  

I don't mean to disrespect Christianity; I appreciate the religion and even, on occasion, have envy for the devoutly faithful...but what I love best about easter is how blatantly pagan the whole thing is.  EGGS?  BUNNIES?  Green grass, baskets, frilly sleeveless dresses....
I love that it's a holiday that connects us all back to a celebration of earth and LIFE.  It's a long sigh at the end of winter, Whew, we made it through another one.  It's all about new growth (green grass), procreation (eggs), abundance (breeding like bunny rabbits), hope (Jesus Christ?) and, well, spring.  And I love that those old pagan traditions have hung on through all these hundreds upon hundreds of years.  

While studying abroad in the Czech Republic, I learned this: on Easter, boys buy whips sold around town, then chase down girls and try to whip them lightly on the back of the calf.  If they succeed, the girl has to turn around and hand the boy an egg.  Now tell me, what do you think that's all about?  Uh-huh.  

:: I have been in a crafting frenzy lately.  Mostly, it's all in my head and I don't get the time to act on it.  But I did do this for Juniper: I made her some easter eggs.  We won't need any of those plastic, made-in-china, potentially-toxic easter eggs in our house, thank you.  I blew the dust off my crochet hook, dug out some yarn scraps and went to town.  Turns out, I can whip out an egg while nursing J bug down for the night.  Nifty.  

:: Easter morning.  

:: Juniper's great-grandparents had sent her a little money for easter, so we bought her a REAL basket.  It's a June-bug sized African market basket that will probably last the rest of her life.  Purchased from the fair-trade shop at Missoula's Peace Center.  Can't beat that. 

:: Her dexterity and precise hand-eye coordination improves by leaps and bounds from week to week.  It's so much fun to watch.  

:: J-bug has had some rough teething days lately.  So of course, everything was chewed on.

Aggressively chewed on.

:: Since Juniper is still a strictly breastfed babe, I filled the eggs with something I thought she might enjoy: strips of fabric.