This past weekend marked two things: Hazel turned 2 months old and this here blog turned 2 years old.
Hazel: is cooing and has an irresistible left-wink smile. Since birth, she awakens only twice per night to nurse, like clockwork. My husband says sleeping with Hazel is like sleeping with a bear cub (and, yes, he would know). She snorts, groans, moans, laughs, chirps, squeaks, kicks, wriggles, writhes...but hardly every cries. She's a little particular about her body position--hates the carseat, hates lying on her back (except at night)--but will readily live out her days as a potato sack over a shoulder. We have several different carriers; she prefers the shoulder. She kills my back but I love her anyway.
This blog: well, two years got me to thinking. Not why I do it, I know why I do it, but why I keep it a public website. I've always said, I keep this blog first and foremost for me. Secondly, for my daughters. But you, YOU are the reason I keep it public. Just when I think this blog has run out of steam, or I keep posting the same shit over and over, or who really cares anyway?... I'll receive a letter, or an e-mail, or a facebook message, or a phone call, or an in-person "I love how on your blog..." and I'll realize there really are people out there reading this. Friends, relatives, strangers. How wonderful. And weird. And connected.
^First time I've witnessed Juniper drawing with intention.^
Last week opened with the most beautiful, generous letter.
She traced the history of our friendship, the way we have crossed paths in the wildest places. She put into words certain things about us. I read it aloud to my husband. He said, "She makes us sound better than we are." I was thinking exactly the same thing. Sometimes I get caught up in seeing what I'm not...it pushes me, drives me to become better. I'm always looking for the next step. We are who we think we are, but we're also the people in that letter. We're running full-steam in the dark and sometimes we just need someone else to slow us down, light a torch, and point out the stones we've left in our wake. Some are jagged and rough and don't fit, but most are round and smooth and fall perfectly into place. Thanks for lighting that torch.
^Junebug's first go at watercolor.^
:: Juniper falls asleep in her own room, but lately, she'll slip into our bed in the wee morning hours. Sometimes at 3am, sometimes at 7. Secretly, we love it. My husband hardly ever writes anything down (except love notes to yours truly), but this morning he got up and wrote this:
As I lie awake in the growing morning light I can just make out the prominent features of my daughter’s face lying next to me. Her brow, cheeks, jaw line are well defined but the rest of her features are blurry and I start to imagine and think I can see what she will look like as a child, teenager, then woman. And my mind drifts off as I think about all the adventures will have together, the joy we’ll have, the laughs, and of course a few tears.
Then I snap back to the present, lying in bed with our whole family, and realize that I just need to enjoy now, because she’s going to grow up much too soon.
Juniper is napping again. I lay out a camp pad on our bedroom floor and give her the choice between our bed and the floor and we hunker down as a trio. If Hazel is awake, she and I will slip out after Juniper falls asleep. Yesterday, as we nestled in for our nap, Juniper leaned over, kissed Hazel on the head and with a smile on her face said, "I so happy."
Truly, Juniper saves the most genuine love for her little sister. If she happens to do something to make Hazel cry--say, bending her fingers the wrong way or pushing too hard on her belly--Juniper gets stricken and starts to wail. It's as though someone's just told her she's a bad mother. It is both heartbreaking and endearing to watch.
:: You've no doubt either experienced or heard of the big, western dump. We got a shit-ton of snow, then some rain, then more snow. I am super excited to ski again. This was last week (before the big dump):
^My man is towing a sleeping Juniper in the trailer.^
^Skiing over tire tracks!! Not any more, baby.^
(I realized after last friday's post, you probably thought we were doing some gnarly downhill skiing. But no, just mellow, skiing the public land behind our house.)
:: Evidence of what happens in our house when I go away for an evening:
Juniper: Squeal!! "Mommy's home! Dashing home in a one horse open sleigh!" (Yeah, she hasn't forgotten Christmas. The other day I overheard a phone conversation that went, "Hi Santa Twause. Bye Santa Twause. Seeya waiter. I gotta go to wort now.")
:: Lately, Juniper's been calling me "mom". Already? That seems so grown up: "What's this, mom? Where'd it go, mom? I want the purple one, mom." And, whispered, "I remember the bears, mom. What's the bear's name, mom?" And, "I remember the grocery store, mom. Juniper go to the grocery store and Juniper see the bears." And, "What's that, mom? Where's another one, mom? That's pretty funny, mom."
In the meantime, this MOM's been having some strong urges to MAKE...
^Booties for a friend due soon.^
And, oh, I have more but it's ridiculously late and Hazel will wake soon for her first nightly nursing!
Oh, man. There are a million things I want to blog about right now and I think about them ALL while lying in a dark room trying to get both my kids to nap. A million things. Life is so full.
Right now, it's 10:36pm. I *just* got Hazel to sleep. Last week, she crossed the divide between being a sleeping-all-the-time newborn (ha ha ha, I was actually a little concerned that she slept too much) and an erratic 7-week-old wrestling with her new digestive tract. She'll struggle all day, shooting green frothy poop and spitting up over my shoulder--happy in no position but my shoulder--and the next day, she'll sleep. She's starting to get predictable. Tomorrow, I have appointments in the big city and Hazel is scheduled to be on a green-frothy-poop-wrestling day. Look out, people.
My own sanity alternates almost as predictably from one day to the next. January 2012 had been looming on my mental horizon for months, and here she is, face-to-face. All our family, gone. My man, back to work. Me, navigating the waters of having two little monkeys all to myself. We're finding our rhythm. Some days, we get good quality playtime, dancing, drawing and cooking--sneak in some laundry and dishes--play outside, go for a walk AND take a nap. Other days, we're lucky to get out of our pajamas and getting outside is an all-day goal that never happens. My sanity rests completely on whether or not I can drop my own agenda. Who cares if we don't make library storytime? Naps are overrated! You wanted to write a blog post? Blog, schmog. Bills to pay? They can wait! Sometimes I can drop the agenda and my face relaxes, my heart sings. Sometimes, I can't. I'm working on that.
The best part is: I have Juniper back. I've really missed her. Since Hazel was, like, 48 hours old, I've really missed Juniper. It had hit me hard: the shock of me being her everything, to my man being her everything. I physically ached for my firstborn. I tried hard to keep things as normal as possible for her, but still, I felt her slipping. On the rare occasion when Juniper gets into our bed in the middle of the night, I secretly love it even though we're wedged in like a family of sardines and only Hazel and Juniper are actually sleeping. Now, Juniper and I have had a solid work-week together and our bond has strengthened. I'm fun again.
If Juniper holds any jealousy for Hazel, she never directs it towards her. She can be running around squealing all crazy-like, or crying and throwing a fit because she wanted the pink cup not the white one, and yet she'll suddenly stop. ...and gently kiss Hazel on the forehead. It's breathtaking, this sibling love.
But here I go writing about this week when I still have last....
:: We used the last bit of 2011 to unleash cousins...
Then harness them into a sleigh ride on the elk refuge (well, wagon ride due to the lack of snow):
^It's possible cousin Owen was more excited about the bus ride.^
^These are the bad boys. We got to see some of nature's funk this time: one earless bull and one antlered cow (not shown).^
^Juniper was too excited for a hat and mittens. "Elk! horsies! Elk! horsies! I wanna black horsie!"^
^Hazel is the lump under my jacket. She loved the wagon ride.^
:: We had some chinook winds roll in and turn our snow to slush. So what was previously unpackable sugar became the perfect sculpting material for a snowman (or woman--Juniper refers to the snowman with feminine pronouns).
Unfortunately, the snowblower doesn't blow slush and we were getting hung up in our driveway. The men folk shoveled the drive by hand, bringing back strong childhood memories. Afterwards, we did some front porch sledding at sunset.
:: On New Year's Eve, good, long-time friends showed up. Two sets of brothers with their wives...and now we all have kids. As I walked past the bathroom to change Hazel's diaper, I heard my friend's voice saying, "Yeah! Now flush the poop down." Ten years ago, nearly all of us were tromping around the backcountry and getting paid to do it. Later I asked her, "Ten years ago, would you ever have imagined this day in our future?" She said, "Hell, no. Well...I guess we were still messing with poop back then, it's just that it was our own." Oh, how times change.
Tried to get a photo of the girls in their adorable matching hats:
Four families, two last names:
:: M&D wanted some naked photos of the boys before leaving so we threw up the black sheet, and this is how we opened 2012:
^Not so sure we can call him "baby" Sam anymore!^
:: One of my favorite J-bug sayings: "I so excited!!" Happy 2012 to you all.
The last of our string of family left on the first day of 2012. We are so lucky and blessed and thankful to have such a loving and generous family. We may be far in miles but we are close in heart.
:: After my dad and step-mom left, we had a week on our own, then my mom flew in and we passed the darkest days of the year cooking, eating, celebrating family and new life.
^Hazel often looks astonished to find herself here.^
My mom is a miracle. She spins magic in the kitchen,
Never shies away from toddler time, even crouching down on a newly-replaced knee to join her granddaughter in her new teepee,
and allows herself to melt into the softness of a newborn.
She was patient with Juniper's shake-n-dump style of cookie decorating and seemed to thoroughly enjoy endlessly cooking for our clan. (I KNOW. We are so grateful.) And she manages all this while maintaining her movie-star good looks (apparently that skips a generation).
Other than Christmas day, we had no agenda. We relaxed, went for frigid walks, discussed methods for getting Juniper to nap, had early bedtimes.
^First ski this winter was lulling Juniper to sleep in the back field.^
:: Juniper's third Christmas, but the first where she really got it.
Well, she got the part about Santa Clause and presents under the tree and candy canes, at any rate.
I've found that I may hold certain values within my own head and heart, but with kids, truth is in action. And I hope our actions will soon show her the other side of Christmas.
:: Hazel and I spend a lot of time like this and Christmas was no exception:
:: This year, most of our gifts were wrapped with Juniper's artwork:
:: This kitchen was a birthday/Christmas gift from the Montana side of our clan. I have never seen Juniper so excited about a single object. She'd been setting up elaborate picnics and serving sandwiches, salsa and cupcakes for weeks, but when this kitchen oven arrived she dressed as a monster, butchered her reindeer and baked her horse. My man is pretty proud of her blatant display of carnivory.
:: The day before my mom left, Juniper started acting out. She deliberately picked up a wine glass and threw it on the floor. The next morning she pleaded with my mom, "Grandma want to sleep in the rocking chair?" Which is what she says to my husband every night before bed in an effort to convince him to stay in her room. When I found her in the mudroom hugging my mom's suitcase, I knew what was going on. I'd been telling her that grandma would have to get on an airplane and go back home. Juniper knew we were saying goodbye, and this time she knew what that meant. She is an incredibly articulate girl, and we have been trying to raise her with emotional intelligence, but still, her toddler heart translated strong feelings into strong actions.
The day my mom left, our Montana clan arrived to carry us into the new year (more on that in another post). And when they left Juniper didn't break a wine glass. Instead, she clutched her dad and said, "I'm....I'm saaad."
And now here we are, carried into the new year on the backs of our incredibly generous family. Missing them all, but feeling their abundance of love from afar and a happy glow as we step into these next twelve months.
^Juniper is in the stroller, Hazel is the bulge under my coat.^