"Hazel's waking up! Haaazeeeel!!!!! HAZEL! Hazel's my best friend."
^Nobody was napping and it was laundry day. So we tore open the shutters, threw up the sash and romped on the bed.^
Geez, I've sure been enjoying my girls. Don't get me wrong, I love having my man home, but--aside from that one frustrating day--I love the confidence and closeness we found as a threesome while my man was away working for three weeks. When he's home we tend to fall along the lines of: he parents the older and I parent the younger. It's an easy routine to fall into what with a vigorously breastfeeding babe. We're aware of the divide and are trying to mix things up a bit. Tonight, Juniper accidentally bonked her head on the bed then curled up in his lap and said, "Daddy, I need to drink some of your milk," then pretended to nurse from his shirtsleeve.
:: From the second he walked in the door, I was dropped as parent #1 like a sack of potatoes. Even Hazel's jumping on board the daddy train.
Me: "Juniper, let's read Harry The Dirty Dog."
Juniper: "No. Daddy do it."
Me: "Juniper, let's get your pj's on."
Juniper: "No. Daddy do it."
You get it.
:: Due to my husband's *crazy* summer work schedule, our May fence project turned into an all-summer-and-maybe-into-fall fence project. We balance. A little work on the fence,
followed by a five minute drive and a short hike to a little nook of a beach with decent fishing.
:: Juniper will start preschool this year. Not until she turns 3 in October, but still. School. I feel like I should be mourning the loss of my toddler. And while it's true that we watch her body and her memory and her sentences lengthen and grow and we oh-so-wish we could stop the clock every so often and wallow around in RIGHT NOW, it's also true that I'm simply excited for her to start school. I think she's ready and I think she'll love it. Two short mornings a week: perfect. We went to orientation today and on the way home she said, "Mama, you'll always be my mama."
:: Lately, Hazel hasn't been napping as long as J bugs in the afternoon, so we get up and do chores together. I fold clothes, she yanks them out and holds them to her ears. She's always had this ear/head fetish and it's adorable. She thought she was being so cute, like playing peek-a-boo with her ears.
The other day, I was harvesting the bulk of our green beans when I turned around to find this:
I had three thoughts: 1) it's a good thing we garden organically, 2) it's a good thing she found a clump with no rocks to speak of, and 3) her next poo diaper is going to be gritty.
:: Ever since our visit with Grandma and her little dog Bailey, J bug has been obsessed with her "pet" dog. Every morning he gets a leash and is drug everywhere: to the hardware store, the library, grocery store, preschool screening, post office.....
And sometimes she nurses him at the breakfast table.
:: Tonight Juniper told my man, "Daddy, when you get to be a big girl, you can swing too."
My first time flying alone with two chickens required some logistical forethought--how do I get from the car to the check-in counter with two kids, luggage and two car seats without leaving anything or anyone unattended AND park my car in economy? Yet despite staying up until 2:00am the night before (getting zucchini and broccoli in the freezer) and pretty much everything going wrong the next morning, the whole flying with two kids bit was easy peasy. All thanks to my beautifully behaved two year old. Funny how those three-foot tall people hold all the power. (She's wearing earphones in this photo, but the player was broken.)
Upon landing, Juniper ran straight into Grandma's arms. At home, Grandma had a surprise.
At least once a day after my man left Juniper would say, "I lost my daddy." And I would reassure her that no, he wasn't lost, he was in California (or is that the same thing?). Anyway. Juniper was in search of a father figure and from the instant he walked in the door, J bugs attached herself to Uncle D. Within minutes they were off doing their thing: picking blueberries in grandma's veggie garden.
Meanwhile, Hazel developed tooth-envy. She gets way excited about food--blueberries and cherry tomatoes--but the girl still has a gummy smile.
She's particularly fond of the tooth brush. If we don't give her one of her own, she gazes at us with desperate longing.
:: I'd mentioned we wanted to hit the beach, so Grandma treated us all to an oceanfront stay.
Juniper's first ocean-beach sand castles:
Hazel's biggest reprieve: Juniper transferred her "affections" to Bailey for the full ten days.
Like Hazel, one minute J bugs gives her hugs and soft pets, the next minute she says, "I wanna SNAP on Bailey!" ("Snap" is Juniper's catch-all verb that includes breaking, bending, pushing, putting a lid on, stepping on, and actually snapping snaps or buttons.) Having Bailey around was like having two Hazels: constant mitigation was necessary. And just like Hazel, Bailey adored Juniper despite her urge to "snap".
:: We stopped at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Way cool. We will definitely return.
^Hazel in the shark tunnel.^
:: We went to the Scandinavian festival. J bugs had to try them all...
:: And to the farmer's market where Juniper fell in love with blackberries...
:: But most importantly, we saw family. And friends. And friends who are like family.
^Hazel fell in love with great Uncle D.^
^My nearly 70 year old great Aunt J scooped Juniper up for a piggyback ride!^
^Juniper and Grandma. Hazel and my teenhood best friend: we had not seen each other in ten years yet she is the same smart, witty, beautiful, successful woman I've always known. I have never been able to replace her.^
^My mom and her best friend. They wanted a photo together but Hazel was hungry and Juniper was chewing on a leash.^
I have just wrapped up night 21 of 22 consecutive days without my husband/partner/best friend/children's father. This is the longest we've been separated since before our first daughter was born. Juniper, Hazel and I became a tight little pack of women, moving through our days with purpose, thinking three steps ahead, prioritizing every minute. 48 hours ago, we returned from a week and a half stint at grandma's house. We came home to a filthy house, laundry piled on the couch, stinky garbage, mouse poo in the stroller, 150 head of over-ripe garlic, more squash, loads of green beans ready for harvest, a grouchy toddler lonely for her daddy...everybody, everything, needing me RIGHT NOW. Round trip, we had made it through 4 airplane flights, 6 hours of driving and 5 hours of layovers without a scratch, but once home, we collapsed. Our little pack blew apart and sent us flying every direction.
^Juniper painted on the wall then dumped her paint-water on the table.^
Today, Hazel was teething and tired and wouldn't nap without me. Juniper was whining for things I didn't want her to have, fighting against everything I wanted her to take/eat/wear/do. I wanted to throw in the towel. I wanted to get in my car and come back in two days. I considered checking us all into a hotel in a different town so I wouldn't have to be home, not yet. I called my husband, to admonish him to COME HOME, even though he's still several states away.
^Hazel and the first two-thirds of our garlic harvest.^
But I'm a mama and we rally. Hazel nursed. Juniper found a toy. My husband and I talked. Our broken little pack napped: Juniper in her room, Hazel and I in mine. I swirled through dinner prep, alternately browning antelope burger and donning a twirly-girl skirt Juniper insisted I wear so we could twirl and ride the merry-go-round (a.k.a my suitcase). No matter how much shit has to get done, I cannot pass up an invitation to twirl.
I twirled and browned, shredded zucchini and passed Hazel a spoonful of peas and apricots, leaving it to her to find her mouth.
I boiled and twirled, shredded and passed, browned and dipped, and passed and twirled. And in the end, Hazel was satiated, Juniper and I had antelope spaghetti with fresh oregano, thyme and zucchini plus an enormous bowl of shredded zuccs to sprinkle into eggs and bread, or bag and freeze.
Since we've been home--and because shit hit the fan and because we were always already two steps behind and because sometimes I had to make the decision between not showering for another three days or letting Hazel wail while I shaved my armpits--Juniper has been sleeping with me and Hazel at night (which she hasn't done in many, many months). We had all shared a room at Grandma's house and she was, understandably, a little scared to be alone again. Once Hazel fell asleep, sandwiched between my two daughters, I turned to snuggle Juniper. She was still awake as we lay there, tête-à-tête, the dark orbs of her eyes boring into mine. A smile creeped across her face. She started to whisper something--probably about merry-go-rounds or white horses or red trains or the beach--but I shushed her and she nestled into me. If I moved just a little she'd whisper, "No mama, you wanna snuggle me more?" And it was then that I realized in these intense days of raising young children, when every cell of your body is immersed in motherhood, the same days that deliver the lowest of low points also deliver the highest of highs.