Saturday, April 21, 2012

flotsam and jetsam

Hi there.  Just some snippets of what we've been up to lately.  
:: Obviously, we rented a sod cutter.  Juniper goes around picking out "wormers", stretching them like rubber bands, then lovingly tucking them back into dirt.  Also, she straddles the piles of sod and announces she's "riding a forsie" and if you ask the horse's name, it's Cactus.  Yep, just like Cowboy Small.  
In my mind's eye, our backyard is lush and green, there is a shading maple in the middle, our sunny, overflowing garden and greenhouse to the right, the chicken coop and mote just beyond and to the left is a corner of blooming fruit, crabapple, plum, pear, cherry, peach (peach?), some berry bushes, grapes, oh, and a black walnut tree.  We have *heard* all of these things will grow and produce in our area.  I am still awaiting a call from the expert who can tell me for sure.  (Peach!???  What was that person on?)  Oh, and just beyond the backyard fence are our dairy and pack goats and perhaps a sheep for all that wool we will shear, card and spin...right?  Somewhere in the middle is a trampoline, a sandbox, a kid's playhouse and a bunch of toys strewn about.  (In my mind's eye, the trees are all twenty years old, but our kids are still two and zero.  That's possible, right?)

Hazel hangs outside too, but she is particular about timing and weather, and she's harder to capture.
I have been trying to employ child labor in rock pick-up, but it's slow-going.  
:: We went to the zoo with friends.  And while you probably didn't peg me for a zoo-goer (except J bug's first zoo trip in DC), it wasn't as creepy as one might think.  Juniper of course loved it.  No polar bears on prosaic here (although I can't speak for the black bears, lions and tiger).  Juniper skipped along the boardwalk singing (to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus): "The duckies on the bus go quack quack quack, quack quack quack, quack quack quack...."    
^I don't play favorites with many things, but pelicans truly are my favorite bird.  And I'll admit it was fun to see them swallowing whole fish just a few feet away.^
At the Vietnamese Pot Bellied pig pen Juniper said, "Hi piggies!"  And, bending at the waist, leaning closer she sincerely asked, "Piggies, you wanna say oink oink?"  (In case you're wondering, Hazel was at the zoo too, asleep on my chest for all but the last five minutes.)  

Although she doesn't give me as many near-heartattacks as she used to, June bugs is still unnervingly brazen at times.  At the zoo, she took off after a rogue peacock.  I had to chase her down (before she grabbed his tail) and tell her to be kind and just watch the peacock.
At the time, it seemed the kids were wholly obsessed with the lion-mouthed water fountain and didn't reserve much interest for the actual lion.
But...two days later, Juniper had her first bonafide nightmare.  One that addresses our primal fears, one that cannot ignore our animal instincts.  That night, she awoke wide-eyed and crying for her daddy.  She told him, "Woar."  He thought she said "war" but she corrected him, "lion woar."  And then, as my husband puts it, he took her to a higher branch and rocked her back to sleep.  
^She is brazen one minute, wanting to "be a baby" the next.^  

:: How you might catch us on a warm spring evening before bed:
:: What Hazel is generally doing when you don't see her in the photos:
:: What I have been making when the contents of our fridge turn to flotsam and jetsam:  
Pot pies!  Yum!  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

morning glory

Tonight, I glanced through some of the blog posts I wrote when Juniper was Hazel's age.  When Juniper was a baby, it was as though time stood still and I could lay down and watch every second of her morning glory unfolding.  But Hazel is my second and, sometimes, I feel like magic has been eclipsed by frenzy.

Hazel has been head-over-heels in love with her hands for almost a month now.  Imagine, discovering two palms with five (five!) moveable parts each, and then discovering they belong to you and you can make them move.  Even better, you can use them to make other things move.  This is my favorite baby discovery.  What sets us apart.  Our hands.  The fact that we don't need them to walk.  That we can manipulate.  The power and responsibility we hold in our hands.  
But instead of a slow meditation over the way Hazel has discovered her hands, it's more like I got a glimpse out the window of a train flying at 90 miles per hour.  A common evening interior (and exterior) monologue might go something like this:

Hazel, you found your hands!  Oh look, you're gathering!  Juniper, stay out of the kitchen, no, no, DON'T DUMP THAT!  Oh shit, the noodles are boiling over....  What stinks?  Juniper, what do you have?  Look at Hazel smile!  Awwe.   Oh, wow, she's grabbing toys already.  I think she's more active than Juniper was at this...what's burning?  Hi honey, how was your day?  Juniper, put your diaper back on, come here you little turkey....  Okay.  Now, where did that onion go?  {Juniper: "I'm finking it might be in my teepee."  Dig onion out of teepee.}  Honey, look at Hazel with her hands!
Life is so full.  I wish I could slow it all down but that wouldn't be right, would it?
I love my job.  I have had physically exhausting jobs, and mentally taxing jobs, but this job here--raising these two kids--it's the hardest thing I've ever done.  It can take me to the breaking point of frustration one minute, have me rolling on the floor laughing the next.  I love my job.  I don't want to miss a thing and yet, with two kids, I feel like I'm getting steam-rollered by their growth, and changes, and discoveries.  I can't keep up.  My morning glories are in full bloom and I haven't even had my coffee.

Friday, April 13, 2012

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week to savor and remember.  If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
~inspired by SouleMama 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

four Easters & one bad mama

Imagine: working outside, digging in a new vegetable garden, you come inside, you smell antelope fajitas wafting from the kitchen, your older girl is cuddled up against a mild fever and your man is in the kitchen, swaying with his second baby girl wrapped around his waist.  Imagine her tiny fingers around his thumb.  Now close your eyes and imagine them dancing to this song, a harmony of sisters:  
I've been thinking a lot about my two kids, these sisters.  About all that the first one had, all that the second is missing, all the more the second has, all the more that we miss.  When I found out I was pregnant with number two, my first thought was "wow," my second thought was "Juniper, I am so sorry."  Instantly, I felt as though I'd betrayed her.  And then, I couldn't imagine loving anyone else as much as I loved her, how could I?  How was that even possible?  Everyone said your heart just keeps getting bigger and I trusted that.  And it's true.  Your heart just grows and grows.  But...your time does not.  Lately, I bounce between feeling like I'm neglecting Juniper to feeling like (as my husband says) Hazel's real name is Hold On Hazel.  
And this is a really long way of explaining how the scene I described above put me in tears--my man rarely gets the chance to dance with his youngest--and why I ended up feeling like an asshole mother Easter night, when I went through our photos.  Hazel Iris' first Easter and the only photo I got was the top of her head.  But our oldest girl's first year hunting eggs enraptured my lens.    
Remember those crocheted Easter eggs?  Thar they are!
On this crisp Easter morning, Hazel was wrapped in her polar bear suit, her clear blue eyes squinting against a sharp sun, she hung comfortably in her father's arms.
 ^I had made Juniper an Easter skirt, then her Grandma sent an Easter skirt and of course she insisted on wearing both.^  
I take a lot of photos.  (You knew that already.)  It's a rare event that Hazel's outside and not cuddled against my chest, hidden from view, in a baby sling--and yet I never even *thought* of taking her photo.  The poor girl.  Hold On Hazel.
This hunt in our backyard and future garden was the third of four Easter egg hunts--spread over three days--for J bugs this year.  Arguably, it was the most fun, but our mellow playgroup hunt, the Darwinian town hunt and Easter brunch hunt were cool too.
^Remember the leftover Christmas tree pine-needle nest?  Thar she is!^
^Remember the needle felted egg?  Thar she is!^

I really do love this holiday.  The timing is impeccable, and absolutely not coincidental.  
^Juniper and her good bud at his play kitchen.  Post-Easter brunch.^  

I hope you all have welcomed Spring with proper fanfare.  I know we have with our four Easter egg hunts (and one bad mother).  

Friday, April 6, 2012

{this moment}

                                   ~She ate half the trout~                       

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week to savor and remember.  If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
~inspired by SouleMama 

Easter spring

When we left for southeastern Utah it was still winter; the snow was three feet deep and beginning to crest the top rail of our fence.  As of yesterday--except for the tall, snowblower piles and north-facing hold-outs--our snow is gone.  Gone.  I love seasons.  I love the rhythm of change and excitement that each season holds.  I love slow, dark, winter hugs and I love bright, neon-green hope.  Spring.  I love the blank slate.  The expectation.  The frenzy.  After hunching over a new baby all winter, we are now both bigger and stronger.  She holds her head up on her own and I am able to unfurl my body, lengthen my spine, broaden my stride and reach for the sun.  Spring.  
Morning light shifts into our house at new angles, making Hazel flinch.  Evening light smacks us at the dinner table.  Fresh, warm air wafts through our open windows.  The caramel-cream rumps of elk dot the hillside behind our house.  Robins sing on fenceposts.  Magpies are nesting in a tree outside our bedroom window.  Pine siskins flit about our yard.  We have dirt!  And worms!  We bring in clumps of mud on our boots.  Days are measured by how much time Hazel lets me work in the "garden", scratching in our future.  
(I know!  These photos seem so outdated now, what with all the snow.  But really, they're all from the last week, it melted that fast.)
Hazel really doesn't last long on the play mat.  Mostly, she sleeps on my chest while I dig, snoozing to the swaying rhythm of spring with each step on the garden fork.
Juniper adores worms, or "wormers".  She impatiently waits for me to turn over a new dirt pile, finds the worms then sings, "Happy birthday to wormer..." and tucks them back into the ground, sprinkling them with soil so they don't get cold.  The other day she announced that she wanted to sleep with the wormers.  

I am antsy to plant seeds, but at least I'm digging.  Is it no coincidence that my two favorite holidays--Easter and Thanksgiving--bookend the growing season?  

:: When Juniper was just a wee babe, I wrote about how much I looked forward to the ritual of Easter with my kids.  Not so much the resurrection-of-Christ Easter (because, really, I wasn't raised in that tradition), but the one that came before.  The primal Easter, the one with eggs and bunnies and electric neon shoots of life.  This year, I feel like we're laying a true foundation for our own family traditions.  Juniper is old enough to know, to get excited, to remember.  This year, we started the tradition of egg-dying with plants.  We met up with friends and while it was mostly mamas in the kitchen, the kids would make the rounds, swirl our legs and check our progress.    
*Each dye bath was made with 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt, and a vegetable, fruit or spice.  Beets gave us pink.  Tumeric gave us gold.  Red cabbage gave us gorgeous shades of blue, depending on how long it soaked.  Canned cherries gave us peach.  Spinach and parsley didn't do jack, but we got a sumptuous woodsy green by combining canned blueberries and tumeric.  
^Canned cherries made peach.^
There are so many aspects of life I want to add to our rituals and traditions.  I'd like to find books and stories that match our own feelings for this holiday.  Suggestions? 
 ^In the name of Spring, we've been indulging in the last bottles of our 2010 Dandelion wine.  This here is "Dandy B" which is Gretchen-code for one-quarter the amount of sugar as the original recipe and, dang, is it good.  Not too sweet, just perfect.  Even my mom would like it.^ 

:: In other news, our little strawberry blond is growing like a spring shoot.  I made her booties to match the season and her new size.  
An appetizer of Hazel faces:
And my personal favorite photo of Hazel Iris to date (because those fists fly to her mouth like a shark to bait):

:: On chilly days (it seems so long ago...was it really just last week?), we stomped in mud puddles and drank hot coco.  (Mud puddles have been dried up for the last few days--but I hear rain tonight.)      

:: And oh, yes.  In our family spring shows up with a birthday.  
Happy Birthday to my man.  He is so much to me: husband, father--damn good father--hardworking, funny, positive, a hard shell with a soft core.  Love that guy.