Friday, June 22, 2012

almost heaven

The second week of June we bought Juniper a backpack, drew her a map, and told her we were going on a big adventure.
We boarded a plane, flew over our soaring mountains, changed planes in Chicago, got in a car, drove through the green, green mountains and ended up in the arms of my man's family.  We'd been awake since 4:30 that morning.  The second June bug's head hit the carseat, she was asleep.  When she awoke--somewhere along the Virginia-West Virginia  border--she exclaimed, "Daddy!  We're in the JUNGLE!!"
 :: The hastily-drawn map (drawn in the car, at 5am, on the way to the airport) proved to be the key to our travel success.  Anytime J bug was tired, bored, cranky or confused, we'd say, "Where are we on the map?  Should we get out your map?"  "Yes," she'd say matter-of-factly and unzip her backpack.  I love feeling like I've got this parenting thing down.  I love the chin-lifted air of confidence when I feel like I'm in sync with my kids.  I remember the first time I felt that way, when Juniper was just a wee babe.  But since Hazel was born, I've had a few days of parenting pirouettes, but mostly I'm treading water.  The map was perfect.  It was awesome.  I can't wait to go on another adventure myself.  Next time, we'll draw a better map.

:: After landing in the arms of family, Juniper waved her hand prophetically and announced, "These are all my people."  When we live so far from family it's easy to forget there are people out there who love our kids as much as we do.  Family.  Where someone else is always holding my baby and not because I asked.  
Aside from my Wyoming husband and his Montana brother, my man's family all live within a 3 hour radius of each other.  This is almost unfathomable to me.  My whole life, my family has been scattered like stardust from Ohio and North Carolina to the Pacific coast.  Stardust may be dreamy, but I like the cluster effect.    
We didn't see everyone, but we saw most and even met the newest addition.
We talked about how much Hazel seems to resemble her great-grandmother,
who was the one person who could rock her to sleep.  
Juniper went fishing with cousins,
and kayaking with their mom while great-grandpa fished.
This conversation was reported back to us:
Juniper: I have a spider on my arm.
Aunt M: Do you want me to get it off?
Juniper: No.
I love her no nonsense confidence, the personality she carries in her stride.  One day soon, she'll learn from someone who learned from someone to be afraid of spiders.  These days, it's only the big, primal fears that emerge in the darkness of night.

:: Our trip was quintessentially West Virginian.
Our first night, a black bear bit the bumper of our rental car, chewed the rear wiper off, pawed around the gas tank trying to figure a way in, then did much worse to the car owned by my husband's cousin.  That old bear got the door open, ate a happy meal and some goldfish crackers and chewed up some seats while he was at it.
(Every. single. time. we got in the car, for the rest of the week, Juniper asked, "What'd the bear do to our car?"  Now that we're home, we're paying the true price for the bear incident.  For the last three nights, Juniper has been having nightmares about bears.  Last night was the first in months that she ended up in our bed.)

:: Of all things West Virginian, I melt for their summer weather.  Warm bordering on hot, and humid.  A drippy, saucy, slow, southern-accent kind of humid.  I love the rocky mountains, I do, but ohhhh....swimming in warm, slow rivers that don't freeze your testicles!  (Or, in my case, ankles!)
:: Late-night impromptu missions to catch fireflies--those dizzying, magical lightening bugs--wearing nothing but thin cotton pajamas and no jacket.  That's right, NO JACKET.
:: Juniper found a box turtle laying eggs.
 :: Went fishing with dad and grandpa.
:: And went on what is becoming the family tradition choo-choo ride.  (Like the bear, the choo-choo has been a subject of lots of excited talk and at least one nightmare.)
:: And in a flash, we had to turn the map around and go back the way we came.  Leaving our people,
Those twisty-turny-up-down-all-around appalachian roads,
The dripping "jungle",
And father-in-law on the cusp of retirement,
To fly back home.

Monday, June 4, 2012

don't fence me in

Dinner: salmon on the grill, fat fresh asparagus from our neighbor's neighbor, my awesome rhubarb pie (rhubarb from friend's garden), ice cream, dining on the front porch picnic table.  Tonight: kids in bed, me jumping on the trampoline by moonlight.  Sigh.  I am lapping up this early summer.   
:: We have been busy little beavers.  I keep tucking more plants into the garden when I get a chance: brassicas, beans, sage, oregano, chives, thyme, rhubarb, tarragon, squash....  Mostly, though, the garden has been on hold while we erected what feels like a fortified mote around our "backyard."  We've never had a privacy fence before.  
A few weeks ago, we had a house, a garage and a horse pasture.  Slowly, after daydreaming about it all winter, we are turning a section behind our house into a "backyard."  I've had it all laid out in my mind, but a critical step--a step that came with a wee hint of sadness--was the fence.  We needed a fence to keep kids, chickens and dogs in, while keeping other neighborhood hooligans out.
To be fair, the cow and calf moose only stopped and looked at our carrots.  The free-range neighborhood dogs, on the other hand, ate the dirt where my squash seeds were planted.  Still, moose and two year olds aren't the greatest combination.  Also, we wanted a fence that would help cut the wind and create a protective nook for vegetables, berry bushes and fruit trees.  Right now, our fence feels like a new haircut.  It's awesome.  It's exactly what we wanted.  But it's going to take some getting used to.  It's 6 feet tall; we are considering cutting it down to 5 so we can at least see over the top and wave to the neighbors.

:: In other news, Juniper is the most helpful little garden gnome. 
My man and I were talking about where to plant our basil starts, when Juniper stood quietly at our side, holding a basil plant.  She had identified the basil from a selection of others.  She's been doing this a lot lately: understanding more than we knew, appearing at our side.  Or, performing neat, tidy tasks while we're not looking.  Like giving each basil a birthday cake of dirt. 
:: J bug has been drawing people.  This one is me.  I am a head with eyeballs and glasses, a mouth and feet.  You can call me Mrs. Potato Head.  
Rainy days last week got us re-aquainted with art projects.  Hazel naps, we do playdough.  
:: I should have done a before-and-after, but I re-covered the seat on this oak rocking chair (the old cover matched my room in the 1980's--a pastel pink and blue wispy seashell print). My mom says the chair was my grandpa's when he was a kid.  My dad says my grandpa probably picked it up at a garage sale and refinished it.  Technically, it belongs to my brother, but we appreciate the loan.  

:: In the car, out of the blue, Juniper says, "Mamma has milk-juicy under her shirt."  I sure do and look how chubby it's making this little monkey:   
:: Favorite bed-bouncing rhyme: Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water, JACK FELL DOWN....
:: POP QUIZ!!!  Who's who?

:: The other night, my man was snuggled up with Juniper reading bedtime books.  She smiles, reaches over and rubs his teeth then smiles and laughs and says, "Daddy eat a BOODGER!"  She leans over, looks in his face, smiles and giggles.  My man checks his lips and teeth and mouth, does a mouth swipe, doesn't feel anything, finishes reading the book.  Juniper is leaning forward more, looking into his face saying, "What's that? What's that on your face?"  The Mr. starts feeling all around and finds a huge booger sitting on his chin dimple.  Then she says, "Daddy wanna eat that?"

Hope you all are having a good week.    

Friday, June 1, 2012

{this moment}

                          (Cheers to friends who give away outgrown trampolines.)  

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week to savor and remember.  Inspired by SouleMama