Wednesday, October 31, 2012

a magical, multi-layered cake

Not every night--but often--after the kids are in bed, I pull out a fresh clean sheet of drawing paper and tape it to Juniper's art table.  Sometimes I lay out crayons, sometimes markers, sometimes watercolor paints.  It's a simple act, imbued with love.  I delight in the act of quiet, invisible giving probably more than she enjoys waking up to a fresh sheet.  It gives me extraordinary joy.
Lately, it's the simple things: spreading peanut butter on Juniper's sandwich while she builds a "nest" of miscellaneous toys, books, pumpkins, blankets and dolls in the living room chair and Hazel crawls around eating crumbs off the kitchen floor...that's when I get the feeling that what I am doing, right now, feels so right.  Like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing, right now.  It's a good feeling.
:: Our weather has gone from that^ to this,
And today, this:
Tomorrow (Halloween) is supposed to be in the 60's.  Oh, we'll try our best to send some of this warm, dry mellowness to the east.  From what we hear, much of our family is under a heavy mulch of snow.  

:: The birthday.  We saw family, then gathered friends to celebrate Juniper's 3rd birthday.  We are relatively new arrivals to a very small town.  I stay home with the kids, my man's job is mostly solitary.  It's not easy meeting new folks.  Which makes me all the more grateful to this new tribe of ours that gathered to celebrate my girl's three years on this planet.  
The trampoline was a huge hit (I grimaced and averted my eyes most of the time) as was a "maze" my man had mowed in the back field.  Last year I didn't get a single photo of J bug's party--too busy playing the hostess.  This year I got smart and handed my camera to an extra dad.  
Last year, J bug nearly dissolved into a puddle of delight when we had a little party and everyone sang Happy Birthday to her.  And for the next four months I think we sang Happy Birthday at least 37 times a day.  When Hazel was born and we were trying to get her to latch-on, we sang Happy Birthday because we figured she'd heard it so much in utero, it would make her feel home (it worked).  This year, Juniper had told me she didn't want people singing Happy Birthday.  We did a birthday morning test-run and sure enough, she ran crying, "Nooooooo!  Not sing Happy Birthday!" and disappeared into her room.
So when the moment came, I did a real quick, "One,two,three HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" which still melted her into tears, but at the prospect of pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting, she quickly recovered.  
Later that night she opened gifts, danced, and played doctor.  
 :: A couple days later, we hit up the pumpkin patch, complete with straw bale maze, scarecrows and train ride.  And see that awesome sweater?  Thanks, I made it.  Juniper's birthday sweater--that's what she calls it.  
::  Two weeks into it and I have this to say: "Three" is a magical, multi-layered cake alternating between fun, frustration, willpower and a heap of thick, creamy, make-believe frosting.  
Juniper's first day of preschool(!).  She adamantly refused to wear the ladybug backpack she'd chosen herself.  And, after weeks of saying, "When I turn three, I will start my preschool!", when the day finally came, she crossed her arms at the breakfast table and said, "NO.  I don't wanna go to preschool.  I just wanna STAY HOME."  Somehow, I convinced her to step out of the car and into the preschool building, but I ended up staying with her all morning.  She refused to take off her jacket.  As soon as she got comfortable, there was a fire drill.  And as soon as she got comfortable again, they did ring-around-the-rosie, which is normally her favorite game, but with 18 kids it sent her into a fit of tears.  Two months ago, she would have run straight into that ring.  This is the new Juniper.  Three years old, a little more self-conscious and self-aware of life's "scarier" situations combined with a staunch willfulness.  Staunch willfulness.  
 :: Wondering about Hazel?  Girl's been crawling for a few weeks now.  We've taken a lot of video, having forgotten how friggin' cute the stiff, stilted, jerky, slow, wind-up-toy-like first crawls are.  Damn, it's cute.      
 She still just has those two bottom teeth.  My man carved a pumpkin in her two-tooth honor--I'll try to get a photo for you, but that pumpkin's been living outside and is already a bit worse for the wear.  Oh, we have more from the trenches coming soon.  In the meantime, it's Halloween!!  
    ^Not to worry.  We bought Juniper some glass crayons for her birthday.^

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Aaaah.  I've been trying to write Juniper's birthday post for a week now.  There is so much I want to say.  So much about her, over the last year.  So much about her, right now.  So much of the bubbling wellspring of emotions that come with the memory of becoming a mother, that instant I met the little human who'd been pressing her head against my ribcage.  I watched her birth video tonight.  I had been so sad and disappointed over needing a cesarean section.  I had wanted so badly to experience birth in the same way women have through all history, in all cultures, in all time (now, thanks to Hazel, I have).  Finally, that sadness is just a memory. With Juniper's birth, I became a mother.  And that will always be the most extraordinary day of my life.

:: Dear Juniper Autumn, Junebug, Bugs, Bugsy, Turkey, Chicken, Bean:

Today, it snowed.  You said, "It's snowing!  Because Santa Claus can come now.  [Pointing to an empty spot in the garage] Can he park right here?"  I mentioned that he usually parks on the rooftop.  Stretching both arms up to our metal roof you said, "Oooooh!  Yes!  Santa Claus can park UP THERE!"  I reminded you that Santa doesn't show up until we have LOTS of snow, but still.  You are excited.  You get excited about almost everything.  People often comment that you are so animated.  And so happy.  Dramatic.  There is a reason why your quotes are punctuated with exclamation points, italics and capitals.  This is you.  You are outgoing, social, loud, brazen.  We ALWAYS know where you are and what you're doing.  You tell us.
I admire you; I want to be more like you.  You are opinionated.  Smart.  Decisive.  Creative.  Funny.  You are kind, caring, compassionate.  Lately, you have developed a wisp of a shy streak.  You are stubborn, testing, "a pistol," "a handful".  You dance.  You laugh.  You love.    
Every night you ask to bounce on the trampoline.  You pretend to be a red tiger.  You love to dance and pretend-swim on our wood floor.  Last month you were obsessed with slides, now it is monkey bars.  This week you've been carrying around a small pumpkin like it's your baby.  You swaddle the pumpkin and take it for stroller rides.  You ask me, "Mama, can you say 'look at the precious baby'?"  And I do.  You make me feel proud, purposeful, humble, present.  You make me work to be better.  You make me wish there were more hours in a day.
You love pink, red and orange.  You regularly make cupcakes for me and Hazel.  You love dogs.  You love "friendly" bears.  You are "scary of" other bears.  You hate goodbyes.  You have the memory of an elephant.  Lately, you love to be held "like a brand new baby."  I will never stop holding you.  
You love to help water the garden.  You love camping and hiking and fishing with dad.  You adore your cousins and your grandparents.  You are an incredible big sister.  I am your rock, but you are a daddy's girl.
You want to be a black bear for Halloween.  You've said, "I'm going to be a SCARY bear and I will GROWL at you!"  And then, you've said, "No, I'm going to be a friendly bear for Halloween."    

Yesterday, you awoke from your nap, scared, yelling these words: "MAMA!  MAAAMMMMAAAA!!!!!  The bear!  I went out to the garden and the bear grabbed me and took me far, far away and I was looking for my family!  Oh nooooo!  Mommy, I had a bad dream!"    

And the other day: "Yesterday, when I was a bear, I bit my car.  My pink car."
^Nursing your black bear.  July 2012.^

I worry that I'm not good enough.  That I don't have enough time with you.  That I don't get to be with you enough.  I worry that I'm not enough of a role model, or I model the wrong things.  I want to do the best I possibly can with this heavy responsibility of raising two amazing little humans.  Bear with me, I'm learning.  We are in this thing together.

Saying "I love you" is just the tip of this great huge iceberg of love I hold for you.  Happy birthday sweet girl.      
P.S.  Yes!  We had an awesome party.  More later.

Friday, October 19, 2012

{this moment}

A short series.




I know it's been a while, but I have lots coming soon...promise.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


My whole family is ravenous.  We eat meals, go for seconds, then polish them off with a heap of peanut butter (except for Hazel, who polishes-off with mama's milk).  We are feeling the harbinger of winter deep within our bodies.  Today I packed away sundresses.  My man and I talk about how we feel both stressed and relaxed at the same time.  We feel the thick, handknit sweater of autumn wrapping our bodies, we sip tea, time slows down...and yet we feel the crunch, like squirrels scurrying to fill their cache before the first big snow, the first drop of a foot or more.  I love seasons.  
The other day I made roasted red pepper soup, my man took the girls on the trampoline and basked in the warm, evening sun.  We knew it would be the last.  The weather report showed the next three days as crispy cold, with cooler autumn temps to follow.  We soaked in that last bit of heat, lapped at the shore, dove in for more.

:: Oh, how Juniper's...(obsessions? fixations?)...change like the weather.  If only I could record each and every one, but as soon as I get a handle on one, she's on to the next thing.  Lately--and maybe it's the autumnal shift, the slowing down, the moving inside--Juniper can't get enough of her books.  She "reads" them out loud, to herself, to us, to Hazel.  She sleeps with them.  She sneaks out of bed at naptime and reads.  I let her sleep with a library book and she ate the corners.  It was a favorite.  (Ahem, now we own it.)  The other day, she asked my husband to show her how to read.
::  At least twice a day my man and I each say out loud how much we're going to miss having a chubby little cherub in our midst.
Our chubby cherub still isn't crawling and it's really starting to tick her off.  Her frustration is palpable.  She has been *this close* for weeks now.  Meanwhile, we bask in the fat rolls over her knees, the rubberband creases on her arms...knowing it will be all too soon when she is moving forward, burning off that chub.           
Sometimes, Juniper and I get down and show Hazel how to crawl.  She thinks we're hilarious.
:: We started to add Hazel's prints to our family portrait.  We got one hand and one foot, but as it turns out, she was totally not into it.  Too soon, I think.  
:: This photo is several weeks old, but...I have been liberated!  Thanks to my dad taking the time to rig this up, I can now bike to the park, the library, the post office, Juniper's soon-to-be preschool....
:: Slowly, I have been putting our garden to bed, anticipating how grateful I'll be come spring when all I have to do is put seeds in the ground.  Hazel Iris is usually content to sit under a shade tree and chew on pinecones or old french breakfast radishes that Juniper yanks up for her.    

 :: Easily, our pre-winter to-do list--that scurrying squirrel within--is two feet long.  Our last "weekend" (my man's days-off are typically during the week) we had decided to get shit done.  And we did.  For one day.  And then we bagged it and took the girls hiking.
 It's always worth it to exchange chores for a romp in the crisp, wild, autumn air.  It felt so good to have tight quads pressing into earth, propelling forward.