Monday, October 31, 2011

all about a junebug

Or rather, an Octoberbug.

It seems we've been celebrating Juniper's two-year birthday since early September as relatives bearing gifts trickled through our home.
^Juniper has learned the art of exhausting relatives by insisting on "more airplane". ^

But the real shebang was a few days after her birthday when we hosted her first small, but true party.  Between the balloons and the older girls and younger boys, Juniper was nearly beside herself with glee.  I made chocolate pumpkin cupcakes with orange pumpkin frosting and my famous squash soup.  For the first time, we noticed the difference between boys and girls.  The girls curled up in Juniper's bed, read books to each other and ate lunch together.  The boys honed-in their radars for wheels, found the ridable toys, hopped on and didn't get off, not even to eat.  And...aside from the 49 seconds of video while singing Happy Birthday, I didn't get a single photo.  Not one.  Sometimes it's nice to walk around without a camera smooshed to my face.  But this time, afterwards, I felt like an asshole for failing to capture J bug's first party.  Doh!
The whole party whooptie-do in her honor really made an impression.  She name requests the song, Happy Birt-day Ju-per at least eleven times a day and it took a week for her to stop insisting on cupcakes (or rather, tuptakes, since she can't say "k" sounds yet) for snack.  And anytime I reach for the top of the pantry she asks, Presents?  Oh my.

:: But Juniper's growth in the last six months, and especially the last two, is what really *blows* our minds.  Not just her hair and her long, thinning, legs...but her mind.  And especially, her language.  She throws out multiple new sentences on a daily basis (today, off the top of my head: I get cheese grater.  And, Let's go get him!), she holds us to our promises, and boy is she getting finicky about how she thinks the world should be arranged.  I love watching her little independent personality blossom.  

:: She chooses her own clothes.

Often vacillating between wanting to wear three shirts and two pants, or putting up a fight to get a single shirt on.

:: She hates having her hair brushed or washed or dried (resulting in the extremely short bob seen in some of these photos).  

:: She is especially particular with her mothering skills.  Everyone gets a diaper and clothes and laid down for sleepytime.

They get fed milk and water and leftover oatmeal.  They get swaddled and burped.
^Under that green shirt is her "hiking suit" which I have learned to hide, otherwise, she'd never wear anything else.^    

They go outside.

They splash in the mud.  (When I tried to keep the doll inside she whined, Baby Sam outside tooooooo.)

:: She insists on reading her favorite books to herself saying, I read it.

:: And sometimes, requests that we take her picture:  Sorry, sorry.  Excuse me Ju-per.  Picture?
^Here she hams it up for the camera, but drops nothing in the toilet.  (So far, she has peed once on the potty, entirely on her own while no one was in the room or even paying attention.)^

::  She loves to be helpful.

Doing finishing work on the tile.

Helping unpack the chocolate sprinkles.

 And the refrigerator baking soda.

She supervises her dad with the interior trim.

And her mom with packaging meat.

:: She likes our new house, but isn't crazy about the taller-than-she-is grass.  (Establishing a YARD is our top springtime priority.)

:: She gets crazy over autumn leaves, confirming our choice for her middle name.  

:: She is still goofy and giggly and loves to play peepaboo.

:: She prefers variety in her meals.  And whether it's hot sauce or beer, if she sees us eating something she doesn't have it's, Try some too?  Ju-per try some too?  

Still, she especially loves spaghetti, fish, tomatoes, blueberries and beets (because they stain her hands red).

:: And oh how she lives for singing and dancing.  Favorite singing songs are: Ring around the rosie, Skip to ma woo ma dar-yen, London bridges, Happy Birtday Ju-per and John Denver's "Country Roads".  

:: Favorite dancing songs are: "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" (which she requests with a rare, entirely unrecognizable name) and "The Safety Dance".  We are head-over-heels with her hillbilly stomp, which is actually extremely difficult to mimic.  It involves a little foot-stomping shuffle and your butt stuck out to one side.  We do try.

:: Her favorite phrases change by the week.  Last week it was, I did it!  Yeah!  This week it's been, Where'd car go?  Ah!  I find it.  Or, Where'd dog go?  There he is!  And while my man was gone hunting it was, Where'd daa-y go? in a sad, lost voice. 

:: Her low, bullfrog voice (she got that from her father) is getting sweeter and higher pitched, but for some things, she still busts out the bullfrog.  If she's really excited about something (say, you pull a tangerine from the fridge and she hasn't had one for a few days) she says in a very deep voice, Oh, ho ho ho!  Whoah!   

:: She is an accomplished parrot.  We learned the hard way to control our own swearing.  We've learned to say things like "shoot-dangit" after several weeks of Juniper dropping Baby Sam in the grocery store followed by an, Uh-oh.  SHIT!  

:: After an entire summer of training her to hold my hand, she now does it willingly.  Thank god.  Just in time for the new baby.  Maybe I won't lose my toddler in the grocery store parking lot after all.    

:: And yet, for all her independent spirit, we have been working for over a month on getting her out of our bed, with mixed results.  But that's another story.

:: (And seriously, I'm *trying* to post more frequently so we can avoid these War & Peace photo posts.  Thanks for making it to the end!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

into the valley

When I asked Juniper what she wanted to do for her birthday, she looked up from her lunch plate and said, "Fishing."  
It's a little strange to have Juniper's 2nd birthday right around the corner.  Last year I was so reminiscent and nostalgic over Juniper's birth one year earlier.  It's a big day, for a woman to become a mother.  But this year is so different.  I am all forward-looking, trying to prioritize tasks by the order in which they will unfold...Juniper's birthday, house-guests, baby.  I will be full-term in just a couple of weeks.  That's *crazy*.  My To-Do list looks something like this:
*Finish installing trim, stain interior doors, bake a cake, call doulas, hang pictures, finish unpacking, make 36 week ultrasound appointment, clean garage, get crap out of guest quarters, plant garlic, find dresser for new baby, buy microwave....

Those tasks are all interspersed with periods on the floor, my feet propped on the couch, trying to get the swelling down in my left ankle.  This baby sits super low in my belly.  The little chicken has been head-down for as long as Juniper was head-up.  My kickboxer has become more of a yoga artist, stretching and pushing, wedging little heels up into my ribs.  Juniper will lift my shirt and say loudly to my bellybutton, "HALLO??" as though she's answering the phone.  She'll rub her hands over my belly, telling herself, "Soft."  Then poke my almost-outy bellybutton and demand, "Come OUT!"  Then she'll poke at her own bellybutton and say, "Come out."  I keep trying to explain that only mama has a baby in her belly and that it needs more time to grow.

:: A couple of weeks ago, just as we were trying to move and settle in to our new house, we went camping.  And oh man, did we need it.  My father-in-law was visiting, which made it even better.  We were hungry for something that wasn't house-moving-packing-unpacking related.  We took four days and headed to our old stomping grounds, the same valley where we met and later married.  
:: I noticed two things on this trip: our first camping trip without Osa, and my first time in a tent without a nursing-down Juniper.  But Osa was with us in spirit, plodding down the trail.  And nights were so damned cold I was grateful to keep my abdomen warmly covered.  
Mornings and evenings were cold.  Bedtime stories were short.       

But when the sun crested the mountains, everything changed.

:: We hiked.

:: Played on a sandy beach shore.
Yeah, yeah, I know I've bragged about using cloth diapers even on camping trips, but we were way too disorganized this time, leaving a hamper full of dirties at home.  

:: Fished.

:: And I had a pronghorn antelope tag for the area.  We had brought our rifles just in case and me and my 7-month pregnant ass managed to "make meat", as my father-in-law would say.  I have to admit, even though this was totally NOT the kind of hunting I would normally engage in (I was 30 feet from a road; I'm normally miles from a road), after two years of no big-game hunting, it was still exhilarating, still primal.  I still had that moment where the world narrowed to just me and the antelope buck in my sights; where the weight of taking another life for the sake of me and my family hung in the air between us.
He is tender and delicious; the best tasting antelope I've ever had.  This valley has always been good to us.     

:: We had campfires and late dinners of trout and antelope loin.
:: And parted ways.

:: On our way home, we stopped at a private place special to my family.  The extra organ I grew both to nourish and protect Juniper when she was in my belly...has been in our freezer for almost 2 years.  We thought we should get one placenta out before another comes in.  But really, the timing is appropriate.  The physical bond between mother and baby has moved on.  Our connection, our physical touch, is purely motivated by emotion now.

We found the spot.

Dug the hole.

And said "bye-bye" to our placenta.
The only thing we didn't do was scatter some of Osa's ashes...since they're still packed.