:: This is one of my favorite seasons. The season of snow-capped mountains, fresh green aspen, velvet grass and balsamroot. Our hillsides are ablaze with the millions of yellow smiley-faces of arrowleaf balsamroot, nodding, waving, smiling. I want to take the girls and romp in them before they're gone.
Once pajamas are on and teeth brushed and my man whisks Hazel away to sleep in our room, Juniper and I hunker down for "one last book." And then, for the past month or so (two? three?) I tuck her into bed and she says, "Snuggle with me." And I do. With a few, rare exceptions, I always do. And holy hell does it feel good to get horizontal, even in a fetal position in a toddler bed. My whole body tingles. Juniper and I, head-to-head, talk about the stars, our day, what we did, what we're going to do tomorrow. I tell her how much fun I have with her, how I love spending my day with her and Hazel. And I always fall asleep before she does. Tonight, as my feet were tingling and I was drifting off to slumber, out of the blue Juniper says, "I love you."
She has been so lovey lately. To me, to my man, to Hazel; especially to Hazel. And Hazel is all huggy-kissy right back to her. (And they play together! Juniper: "Okay Hazey, you're the baby dolphin and I'm the mama dolphin and you need a bandaid for your poke, your vaccination....")
This is a huge shift from, say, seven months ago when I was still putting Hazel to bed and hadn't tucked-in Juniper in over a year, or so it seemed. It's all about connection. I read a lot of parenting books, typically alternating fiction or a book-club selection with a parenting book. I have a few favorites, but the shining star was a recommendation from this blogger, "Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids" by Dr. Markham. I could do a full-blown review, but instead I'll just say that if you're looking for something that feels right, is scientifically researched and works, read it. In the words of my friend over at 6512 and growing:
Dr. Markhams’s book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: how to stop yelling and start connecting, is the daily coach that nudges me off the auto pilot of my own parenting, whispering into my ear: hey, psst, when your 5 year old daughter plants her hands on her hips and says, “you always choose Col’s book first. You’re mean! I won’t let you read!” (grabs book and throws it), it’s not really about the book.
swing just so. I sip coffee while my kids make their faces and toes "special". (For the record, bodies are not the only things they have been "making special" lately.)
:: Between markers, sunscreen, dirt and paint, by the time my husband gets home he says Hazel looks like some kid you'd find dumpster-diving in a London back-ally. It's true, by the end of the day we are all pretty dirty.
:: Juniper is on a bandaid kick. It's a relatively cheap thrill and I'm okay with it. It is one of the few places where Disney and Nickelodeon trademarked characters enter our lives, but she doesn't care about that. She cares about the animals.
Juniper: "Mama! I found an egg! Look! Come quick!" We had a pair of mourning doves nesting on the most precarious branch on our property, right at the head of a wind-funnel between our house and garage. Anyway, an egg fell from the nest and broke. J bug peeled back some of the shell and we could see the little dove fetus, a leg and yellow fuzz and, "Look! This is where its eye was going to be! It's okay little chickadee, I'll take care of you. I'm going to make her a nest and keep her warm." Which she did. She made a nest of straw, in a bowl, in the house, and kept the dead-dove-fetus until my man came home and he helped, ahem, return it to the tree. For the record, I did explain several times that the bird was dead. "But mama, why did that egg fall from its nest?"
:: It is *hard* to keep up with the second kid the same way I did the first, but I do try. As of right now, Hazel's words: horse, no, mine, me, mommy, daddy, dog, cat, elk, ball, swing, nurse, bath, up, fork, hot, hat, nose, eyes, bowl, book, baby, duck, more, help, uh-oh, bird, apple, water, juice, milk, blueberry, banana, tree, poop, pee, necklace, doll, rhubarb, shovel, right-back, backpack, blueberry, flower, boat, cactus, foot, ear, hand, rock, truck, strawberry, cashew, car, boots.
:: Lastly, for you photographers out there: I am shopping for a new camera/lens. I have a Canon Rebel now, with a nice 50mm 1.4f lens that I don't use often enough, and the piece-of-shit kit lens it came with (18-55mm) which I use all the time even though I've dropped it so many times nothing is in focus anymore. My dad has a new four-thirds system which I'm considering. I'm also just considering a newer Rebel (my current camera body is on its way out). Recommendations anyone?