Friday, September 30, 2011

Family Fiber Fest

The hot roar of summer has slowed to a slow, warm, autumn trickle.  Days are still shorts-and-sandals, but nights are fleece jackets and knit hats.  Mountainside maples burn cardinal-red by day, forest fires settle to smoke-laden valleys by night.  I love it.

We went camping last weekend, a much-needed break from working on the house and moving and all-around stress.  I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and laughed when we came home to discover our storage unit had been left open all weekend.  I knew nothing would be missing, but still...don't think I would have cared.  One less thing to move.

I still have bits of summer to post...since Juniper and I came home from the Pacific it's been one-thing-after-another, know.

Right back to it:

:: So...after a week at my mom's we drove on up to my family's 15th annual Family Fiber Fest, better known as FFF.  This is where my step-mom and my aunts (and a token "adopted" sister) on my dad's side all get together to knit, weave, sew, make jewelry, cards and exchange ideas.  This is not a bunch of grandma's getting together to gossip and crochet acrylic toilet paper covers.  They are serious, and what they make is nothing short of art.  Us cousins join the Fest when time and pocketbooks allow.  This year, there were two of us, plus my mom.  The first day consists of show-and-tell (showing off all things handmade in the last year), the exchange of handmade gifts, and a wee bit of champagne.

And then, it's down to business:  
That's me, the super chubs preggo on the right ^.  You don't need to see my belly to know I'm pregnant because this time, my whole body is pregnant.  Oy.  I was all distraught about this for a while, but then realized that A) I am growing a whole new human being, and B) I only have two more months to be super chubs pregnant and the rest of my life to be something else.  (When I mentioned this to my husband, he said, Yeah, you can be super chubs and not pregnant.  Ha.  We've always been straight-up with each other.)   

:: Meals are shared and with that many women, there is never a shortage of food.

Check it out:  
That's my rya knot lap weaving project.  Juniper sometimes napped and other times fell into the hands of grandpa or grandma or one of many aunts and I actually got to work on some projects!
    Romping with grandma L.  

J bug completely distracting Aunt J from her own lap weaving project.  

Before we even arrived, my dad had gone and found a huge appliance box and made Juniper her own little house, complete with a window and sill.  Young June Bug is very lucky to have such a spunky, creative grandpa.  Plus, he was the only one nimble enough to climb in the box with her.  

Other times, Juniper would demand, More amimals.  Meaning, she wanted grandpops to show his photos of African mammals.  She loved that. 

Grandma L had borrowed this playpen thingy complete with phone, music, mirrors and such.  Juniper would open the door, demand to the nearest adult, In?  And then, Dancing!   
(When we got home, she would construct her own corral with books, toys and other floor debris, and demand the same thing.  In?  Dancing!)

  Before we left on this trip, bugs was saying short, demanding sentences like, Open the curtain or, Shut the door.  But on this trip, two things happened: Juniper became completely obsessed with airplanes and started belting out some full, long sentences.  We'd flown on a plane to get to my mom's, we'd read a book about planes for a week straight (over and over and over...Juniper asking, More? More?), and my dad practically lives within spitting distance of a small, puddle-jumper airport.  I thought she'd get all gooey about boats in the water, but no, it was airplanes.  Airplane!  Up in the sky.  Over and over and over.  A month later, the obsession has not waned.  She sees and hears airplanes faster than a dog can smell bacon.  Helicopters too, which she calls hachitopters.   After we flew back home, she started into the more sinister sentence: Airplanes on the ground, boom boom.  We're still not sure what that means, exactly.   

:: Juniper and I often snuck in some afternoon excursions into the woods.  
Bugs was probably more into picking her grandpa's well-tended flowers, but I found the short, soft woodland trails refreshing after an entire summer of not-enough-hiking.  

Playing beepaboo with Grandma L.  

People find this hard to believe, but Juniper is camera shy.  Seriously.  I work hard to get good, candid photos of my little bean.  Aside from the occasional Toddler Day, she is a super happy, laughing, smiling, talking, singing, dancing fun little chickadee.  But...break out the camera and the smile fades, the laugh stops and all she wants is to play with the buttons and look at the LCD screen on the back.  I love these photos ^ because she was having so much fun with a new, borrowed, toy and my dad and I both had cameras and she couldn't escape us! 
 Random note: The wooden fruit and bread set was borrowed from my dad's massage therapist whose daughter has a daughter close to Juniper's age.  And that's the crazy thing about the blogging world.  I follow the therapist's daughter's blog and she follows mine and we've never met, but now our kids have exchanged germs via a borrowed toy.  Totally crazy.  And wonderful.  

:: How many families out there have an annual Fiber Fest?  Not many, I'm guessing.  I'm so lucky that my grandma's creativity has rolled through the generations.  I hope my cousins and I continue the tradition and our daughters after us.  Would that be a miracle, in this day and age? 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

milk and honey

Mid-August, Juniper and I embarked on plans we'd made months earlier because 1) I didn't think I'd be able to help work on our new house, and 2) I thought we'd be moving in by the time I left anyway.  Neither of those things turned out to be true, but plane tickets and a sizable collection of outstretched family arms awaited us.  And, despite the flight, I was really, really looking forward to it.  

Our itinerary included two flights with an almost-2-year-old in my six-month-pregnant lap, one week at Grandma's, an 8 hour drive up to Grandpa's, one week there, and two return flights home.  No problemo.  Ahem.  I actually broke down and bought a portable DVD player because how else could I entertain a toddler on my lap for 3 hours?  Gone are the days when I could nurse her during take off, have her fall asleep for the duration of the flight, and I might even sneak in a few pages of a coveted novel.  (Full disclosure: Juniper can truly be a rock star at self-entertainment and we only used the DVD player for an hour and never could get the headphones to work right.  On the return flight, she hadn't napped and was super-cranky-tired, screamed her head off for a few minutes then endearingly fell asleep curled up in my arms.  No pages of a coveted novel read, but I did get some Kegels in.)          

:: Grandma's: the land of milk and honey, the pot of gold at the end of the Oregon Trail rainbow.
I knew our time was short and I had a list.  First up: haircut for me by a paid professional.  Second: the Scandinavian Festival; I remember going as a kid: good food, endless dancing.  J bug was so excited about the dancing she didn't even try--at least not very hard--to run off when I took her out of the stroller.  (Have I mentioned that before?  My kid isn't afraid of anything or anybody and she bolts.)    
  Grandma and June bug watching the dancers...possibly one of my favorite pics of these two together.   

The Scandi festival is thoroughly enjoyed by young and old alike.  

::  Next stop, my hometown staple: The Saturday Market.  An enviable farmer's market combined with crafts that haven't changed much in the last 30 years.  There's so much color in my hometown...people, politics, clothing....  Being home makes me realize how most other towns are rather beige in comparison.

We're not sure where our kid came from.  I was a hide-behind-my-mother's-legs child and my man...well, he can be rather chatty but I think he was more reserved as a kid.   Seriously, Juniper runs up to almost everyone, demands, "HI!" and joins their group.  Here she is plopped down next to...?????
Chewing on her monkey's tail.  

:: At grandma's house, J bug and Bailey got along famously.

Juniper was thrilled to have a canine playmate again.

But she wasn't accustomed to a young, feisty dog and didn't quite understand the tug-of-war concept.

::  Outdoor dining every night at Grandma's is divine: no mosquitoes, no wind...just warm, twinkling, blooming, bliss.
Top that off with some fresh, local, sweet corn and, as Juniper would say, "Nummy!"

And new bedtime stories with Uncle D:
That's my brother.  Juniper can say his name, but she nearly always referred to him as "Blueberries".  Their special time was to go out in the garden and pick blueberries.  He would pick, line up blueberries on the fence rail (head-height to J bug), and she would count the berries one through ten (onnnnne, twwwwo, reeeee, four. five. six. seven-eight-nine-ten) and eat them.  They had a good thing going, it's no wonder she changed his name.

:: I had been looking forward to taking bugs to this playground near my mom's house.  But Juniper is still kind of eh about most playgrounds.  She'll humor us, but really she'd rather explore the woods and old irrigation ditch on the outskirts.  

:: My aunt hosted a good old fashion backyard bar-b-que (true to my aunt's style, it was all gourmet food) filled with brothers, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends--not all of whom are pictured here because I was too busy eating and drinking and soaking up conversation while my adorable niece glued herself to Juniper.  It was possibly the most relaxing evening I'd had all summer.  If her parents were willing, I would adopt my niece.

Juniper was enthralled with my aunt, her dog, and her recliner.

:: The one goal that topped my list and didn't make it until the end was a trip to the beach. We were trying to plan for a day with good weather (coastal weather in the northwest can be a little touch-and-go), but ended up walking a wind-blown beach anyway.  Juniper and I had been reading about oceans and seas, pelicans, crabs, starfish, boats and whales and I knew she would get it if she saw the ocean, in the flesh.

She'd been to the Pacific before, of course, but that was before her mind was thoroughly sponging up the world around her.   
When I told her, See that water, that's the ocean.  It's where whales and crabs and starfish and all the creatures of the sea live.  That's their home.  Her eyes were wide and unblinking and I knew she was taking it all in, like ALL of it.  Like, more than our adult brains could ever hope to register in one sitting.  I love it when she's wide-eyed.  It's like a window to human potential.  
See those tiny streaks ^, that's how hard the wind was blowing sand, stinging the backs of our legs.  Still wonderful.  Still, as Juniper would say, "Awesome."

:: Next stop: Grandpa's house.  Coming soon.