The story goes like this: the Mr. had some work just south of Salt Lake City and said, Why don't you and the girls come with? You know, get out of town? And me, the ever-opportunistic ursus said, Hell yes. And, since we'll already be halfway there, why don't you take a few extra days off work and we drop down into canyon country? And he said something like, That's a damned good idea. You are the brains of this family. Thank God I married you.
Although we live in the snowy rockies, we are pulled to the salmon-pink desert like color-hungry chameleons. When our world is still monochrome, we crave purple-bruised canyons, red-stained rocks, chartreuse-green bursting from apricot sand, and a twinkling, blue-eyed sky.
After we pulled into our first campsite, I took Juniper aside and said, "This is a juniper tree. These are juniper berries. This tree has the same name as you, isn't that cool?" (We do have junipers in our area, but not nearly as big or abundant.)
Juniper would exclaim, "I see ju-per trees!" And, "Ju-per berries! Check it out, Ju-per!"
This is the closest we've been to the place that gave us Juniper's name since I was pregnant with her.
And then, I showed her the cactuses. From then on, Juniper pointed out every cactus and would say in a sing-songy voice, "Cactus! I don't wanna step on it." She loved digging her hands into the red sand, and--understandably after 4 months of winter--she announced she was making snowmen.
:: We hiked every day. And when it was time to go to bed or eat breakfast or other mundane tasks, Juniper would whine, "I just wanna go hiking." Those five words made my heart swell.
When she tired, or things got too cliffy, she rode happily in her familiar pack.
:: Hazel really didn't care what we did, as long as she was protected from wind, sun, cold and mama was nearby. Who could blame her? She's four months old.
A sneak-peek into Hazel Iris' hiking nest:
:: It was still officially winter, and while we had 70 degree days, we also had cold temps and desert snow.
After 4 months of winter, we are unphased by cold temps.
Me: "Juniper, do you see that bird!?"
Juniper: "It's actually a raven."
:: We are simple people. We are tent campers. (Juniper has been tent camping since she was 6 months old.) We try to keep our footprint on this earth light. We don't want to cross the line into !Too Much! We've always said we won't use our children as an excuse to get lazy, to use more resources than we're allotted. We want to lead our children by example. And, as of our last trip to Montana, we are now the owners of a camper trailer. Much of our on-the-road conversations revolved around how, exactly, this big white rectangle--a wind-catching sail flying behind our truck--fits into our worldview. We are working on that. Realistically, with two small children, had we been tent camping on this trip, we probably would have bailed to a hotel. I know we would have bailed. For now, that white rectangle is in our good graces, but still on shaky ground.
Ever since we've been home from Cousin Owen's house, Juniper has been practicing her statements of ownership. Sometimes, it relates to a particular object, but more often than not she holds nothing in her hands and is looking at nothing in particular when she loudly insists, "No MINE!!!" And just when we start to wonder what in the hell she's talking about, we realize...she's practicing.
The other day I awoke as I do every morning, with a thump, thump, thump, thump and a pie-slice of light as our bedroom door is pushed open. I went to the dresser and behind me I could hear Juniper heaving herself onto our bed. My husband was already gone for the day and Hazel was just waking up. I heard: "Hi Hazel. How you doing? You wanna get your biaper changed?" Just as I was beginning to say, "Yes, honey, I'm sure she does..." I turned around and found Hazel with her sleeper zipped completely open and the tabs of her diaper already pulled back. "Oh! Nice work, Juniper. Now let's take her to the changing table, that's a poopy one." And just as I was scooping Hazel up, I could feel the tension mount:
"No MINE! That's MY sister!!!"
(This was a huge improvement over the day before when Juniper told me, "Mama, I don't want Hazel." Granted, that was after a sickie day of both kids vying for the same lap.)
Afterwards, I went to change Juniper's diaper and said, "Okay little monkey-girl, roll over." Juniper stopped, looked me squarely in the eye, and stated, "I'm a bear."
That night, goofing around at the end of supper Juniper exclaimed, "Is it a bear? Noooo!! Is it a lion? Noooo!! It's a woman!"
:: Juniper has lately usurped some word phrases from the nursery rhyme Ba Ba Black Sheep (have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full...). For a while, she was (somewhat disturbingly) saying yes sir to everything. "You want some more cheese, yes sir?" Now, however, she refers me as...drum-roll...Three Bags Full. "What're you doing, Three Bags Full?" "What's that, Three Bags Full?" "Three Bags Full, I want some more meelt [milk]." We keep joking that if I had a third bag, this might be an accurate description.
So, Three Bags Full is writing this from the road. (Yes! The road again, can you believe it? More later....) Right now we are existing in a perverse version of an overdeveloped, apocalyptic hell-hole...but leaving soon.
CHANGE THE SUBJECT, Three Bags Full!!!
:: I have no photos to go with the words above, so these are entirely unrelated. Anyway. Ever wonder where my kids get their bluest eyes? Clearly not from me.
^Nothing like a little natural light to show off my full 36 years. Three Bags Full?^
Three Bags Full and family wishes you all a good night : )
:: Montana. Young Hazel Iris was a rock-star on her first roadtrip. We blasted all the way to Ennis where we stopped at our favorite log-cabin grill. South central Montana has almost no snow in the valleys and when we opened the truck door to let Juniper out, she pointed to the manicured grass and asked, "What's that?"
Owen's 3rd birthday was our excuse (as if we need one) for heading up there but in all reality, my hubs had only seen his brother once in the last 9 months. And, due to all our home remodeling, he hadn't left town since May. We were absurdly excited to get out of dodge.
Owen's party was held at a former school gym turned community center. Lots of cool stuff for the kids...and adults.
Hoops. (And Uncle M's yo-yo hoop-jumping skills.)
Rope climb. And my man playing Tarzan with J bug.
Owen wasn't really into his party. Little did we know at the time, he was on the verge of coming down with a fever. Sometimes, it's tough to be the birthday boy.
He took a turn for the better when his Train Cake made an appearance.
We missed Samuel Fisher's first birthday, but apparently he wasn't into his cake. Not this time.
Hazel hung out, mostly in my arms.
:: I mentioned I had been doing some sewing...here's Juniper modeling the apron we made for Owen. And by "we", I mean she helped draw out the pattern, or at least color it pink.
The slick thing about this apron--an idea I borrowed from a store-bought one--is that the neck and waist strap are one piece and quickly adjust to any size.
^(I know. I couldn't find a cool car or train print, so I had to go with dinosaurs and cowboys.)^
Also, did some hand-sewing.
I've been wanting to make this fishing set from the book, Creative Play for Your Toddler. After my first two nuclear-disaster-looking fish, my man--the perpetual biologist--stepped in and we got more species-specific.
The pole is just a stick-and-string with a magnet attached to the end. It takes a good deal of coordination to "hook" the metal washer with the magnet and I thought the set might still be too advanced for Owen. Not so. He's a pro angler. (Sorry, no photos.)
:: A trip to Montana wouldn't be complete (in winter) without a stop at the hot springs. I love taking photos at these springs...all the steamy goodness. But. With each adult occupied with a not-entirely-independent-in-the-water kid, getting an arm free for photography gets challenging. My husband snapped these before noticing Juniper's hair floating to the top of the pool and her little legs kicking, but not getting underneath her body. We heaved her up, she cried. She was a little spooked and so were we. She didn't inhale water and once the scariness wore off, she was back at it. Sometimes, swimming lessons pay off.
:: I like to daydream that I can play the mandolin. Truth is, I haven't played much since Juniper was born. Aunt D, on the other hand, is a pro fiddler. I asked her to play for Juniper. She played, then got out Owen's mini violin.
^Juniper didn't "play" anything, but she sure enjoyed holding it!^
:: Sam. He's a ham. A happy kid, full of pride. You could almost eat those chubby little limbs.
^She loves pockets.^
:: We've been home for almost a week, simmering in a bubbly cauldron of snot, fiery throats and stinging lungs. Juniper has taken the brunt of it, dragging her feet and moaning a constant, high-pitched, aaeeeeeuuuuhhh. If her throat and lungs feel anything like mine, I can empathize. Hazel is her usual cheerful self as long as we keep the snot sucked out of her nose. The great part about sickness: holding your feverish toddler as she naps in your lap (I soaked it up while I could). And, throwing all household rules out the window. Yesterday we made a nest in front of the computer and streamed more children's videos than a reasonable, god-fearing adult could normally handle. Today, we went outside. Slowly, we are clawing our way out of this cave of maladies.