Wednesday, November 21, 2012

one year ago

One year later, I have lots to be thankful for this Thursday.  Hazel Iris, one year ago:

We are off to romp with our Montana kin--feast, be thankful and celebrate a First birthday.  Back soon.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

37 things

In honor of my 37th birthday last week and Thanksgiving this week...37 things I am thankful for right now:

1)  That I get to stay home with my daughters.
2)  Watching their relationship blossom.
3)  My birthday gift: an antique pot rack.
4)  My dad's travel blog
5)  Continuing ed classes.  I've taken an herb-growing, fruit-tree growing and chicken-raising class.  Now, I'm taking a watercolor class to stretch my mind and get out of my comfort zone.  
6)  Time to knit.
7)  Time to sew.
^Juniper chose the fabric for this babydoll sling--a young friend's birthday gift.^

8)  That both kids can ride in the Chariot this winter.
^Circa February 2012.^

9)  That we have a relationship with so much of the food that enters our bodies.
^Circa July 2012.^
^Mule deer September 2012.^

10) My mama friends.
11) The mountain behind our house--and the mountain goats, mule deer, elk and moose who call it home.
 ^Circa September 2012.^

12) Getting long-anticipated projects done.
13) Laughing.
14) My do-it-all husband,
15) And his attempt at putting 37 twirly candles in a pan of warm brownies.
16) That my mom has promised to be here for Christmas.  Again.
^My mom and Hazel circa December 2011.^

17) And my brother will likely make it too!
18) That I fit into my pre-pregnant clothes, with room to spare.
19) A new stack of library books.  (Wyoming libraries: I love you.)  
20) Book club.
21) Knitting club--a lot of stitchin, a little bitchin.  
22) Winter squash.  (I'll share my heaven-so-good soup recipe soon.)
23) My blog.  And the people who read it.
24) Mornings with just this one.
25) Afternoons with just this one.
26) My great-grandmother's coffee grinder with a walnut handle remade by my dad.
27) Holy shit I still have ten left!  
28) My crafty, prolific, artsy step-mom whose sewing endeavors garnish every room of our house, and some bodies too.  
29) Friends who have been with us in heart and mind so long, it seems we've never been apart.  
30) President Obama and the country who re-elected him.      
31) Toddler art: the pure evocation of color and emotion.
32) Living at the confluence of three rivers.
33) A clean dining table.     
34) That an oil and gas lease on pristine, nearby public land--a development we've been fighting for 7 years--is now being bought-out by the people.  (Contributions are accepted here.)  
35) How my oldest daughter asks me to take my hug and kiss and put it in my pocket, to save for later, in case I need it.  
36) Chubby baby bums.
37) This life.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

messy, beautiful, perfect

Yesterday I was working upstairs in the loft.  Juniper needed to poop while Hazel was nursing.  I helped Juniper heave herself onto the toilet, Hazel popped off and tried teething on the toilet seat edge while Juniper jumped off the john, still needing her bum wiped, and I had one boob hanging out.  Our everyday.  No one ever claimed parenthood was glamorous.  Life is messy...perhaps that's what makes it so beautiful.  
:: Last week, we blew off election-day jitters with home improvement projects and a jaunt down to the river where we fished and went "on a jungle adventure to look for alligators!"   
We are in Juniper's land of make-believe almost 24/7 now.  The other morning the girls and I went for a short hike in the woods behind our house.  We looked for winter bear dens, fed some bears (a.k.a tree stumps) lots of wild strawberries (rocks), lettuce (grass) and a bit of snow.  I envy Juniper and her little world.  I *remember* that about childhood.  It's magical.  I hope she gets to keep her world for a long, long, time.
^See the "bear" and her "den"?^  
^Whispering so we don't wake the bears.^  (And yes, she was wearing a warm coat but insisted on removing it.)

Me: "Juniper, see these sharp needles?  This is a hawthorn bush."  
Juniper: "Mama, see this snow?  This is Juniper snow."  No matter what we say, it comes right back at us.
 ^Pssst.  She's sporting some mama-made wool mittens, fresh off the needles.^

:: We had such a slow, sauntering fall that I'm ready for--and loving--this latest shift into colder, whiter days.  We are getting snuggly with warm coco and a list of homemade gifts to work on: beginning with squirrel-shaped dog biscuits.  
In the next eight days we'll celebrate one of my favorite holidays, two family birthdays and one young friend's.  
Life.  Messy, beautiful, perfect.   

Friday, November 9, 2012

a new tradition

Note to world: we're raising two more voting women in our house.
This will be the first President Juniper remembers.  I am so dang happy that it will be a great one.  Exactly three of the ink bubbles I filled out on Tuesday came to pass: The President, and two local school board members (oh--and one odd-ball state amendment).  Forgive me, but I'm really giddy about the first, and I have specific plans for the other two.  If your politics are different than mine (and if you live in Wyoming there is a 69% chance they are), I'm sorry.  But clearly we must share a passion to improve the future.  Keep the conversation rolling.         
^Juniper: "Daddy, did you see any elk?"^
:: So, remember last winter when Juniper was obsessed with "the bears at the grocery store" because she believed they made the thunder and rain in the produce isle?  And how her bear obsession turned to fear after our trip to Appalachia when the bear bit our car?  Well, Juniper's love-hate relationship with bears continues to grow.  Lately, when my husband tucks her into bed, he has to clap five times and shout, "GO AWAY BEARS!"  And then, because my oldest girl wants to protect me and Hazel too, she makes him stand by our door (while I'm nursing Hazel down), clap five times and shout, "GO AWAY BEARS!  LEAVE MAMA AND HAZEL ALONE!"  Is it any surprise she wanted to be a bear?  
"friendly, baby black bear" to be specific.  
Seasonal celebrations, family holiday traditions...these are the things I have most looked forward to honoring with my children.  I know, I know, "family holiday tradition" is a lexicon normally associated with Christmas and Easter, but I am determined to find ways to make all our holidays filled with love, meaning and seasonal awareness.  Our trip to the pumpkin patch brought home the harvest season's bounty.  Our kitchen has been steaming with many batches of squash soup.  Funky, farmer's market gourds decorate our autumn table.  
^Top right pumpkin was J bug's design.  Bottom right pumpkin is two-toothed Hazel.^

I have been anxiously awaiting the day when Juniper would have her own opinions about her Halloween costume.  And this year, we began what I hope will become a long-held family tradition of costume-making together. Even my man helped design and cut-out the claws.  
^Hazel-basil was just a thrift-store Eeyore special.  All I wanted for her was a different costume than Juniper had at that age so I could tell them apart in photos (lame?).  Still, she was damn cute.^

The whole candy bit I could do without, but really, it's unavoidable.  With Halloween, I want it to be about the journey--our journey of imagination, creativity and crafting together.  But--to answer your question--hell yes, the girl loves her candy.  
^Juniper on her first preschool field trip (they were passing out candy--a lesson in giving--to some local businesses).  She's so little!  The youngest in her class.  She's had some extreme (for her) separation anxiety at preschool drop-off, but the day she found out she'd get to go on "the wheels on the bus", she left me in the dust and never looked back.^  
Our little town does "trunk-or-treat" in the market parking lot.  At first, I thought this was a bastardization of an American tradition.  So what the hell, we're teaching kids to take candy from mask-wearing strangers in their cars??  But actually, it was kind of cool.  The whole community is out all at once, like a street party.  That said, from Juniper's perspective, it was a whole bunch of freaking-looking people swarming our town.  She didn't want to trick-or-treat and when we did finally cajole her away from our car, she held her pumpkin steadfastly to her head where no one, and I mean no one, would succeed in giving her candy.  (Towards the end, when the freaky-people were clearing out, she was finally ready to "get some treats".)    

:: I have been wanting to incorporate this holiday into my life for years...actually since 2001 when I first read Barbara Kingsolver's novel, Animal Dreams, which features a brief, albeit important, scene of townspeople celebrating Dias de los Muertos.  Now that Juniper is three and beginning to build on a memory that will last a lifetime, I decided this was the year for our first family Day of the Dead.  Celebrating this popular Mexican holiday is the only way I could think of to imbue Halloween with true meaning.  When I told my husband my intentions he said, "So, are we going to like, have a seance and break out the ouija board?"  
Eventually, maybe next year, we'll have an alter with photos of our lost loved ones.  But this year, all we did was make pan de los muertos (which actually turned out horrible due to a typo in the recipe) and talk about, celebrate, and honor the family members who have informed our lives but are now gone.  My husband celebrated a young cousin, two grandparents and a handful of dogs.  For me, I honored my step-dad, an uncle, all of my grandparents and a few dogs (can't forget the dogs).  Family and friends be warned: if you die, we will unabashedly talk about you every year, two days after Halloween.  (Full disclosure: In the middle of cooking the dinner feast, our refrigerator died...turning our new family tradition into "Day of the Dead Refrigerator".  Maybe next year we'll get a new range.) 
^She's wearing it inside out, but my step-mom made Juniper a Day of the Dead skirt and vest.  Bright colors and flowers will take the scary out of any skeleton.^   
Three cheers to the next four years!