Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Princess and the...Firefighter

Juniper is not a shy kid.  Never has been.  She'll sidle right up to a rough-looking carney at the fair and bombard him with questions.  She does, however, get star-struck.  Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Firefighters...she'll blush, runaway, or hide her face.

Originally, our family Halloween costume was going to be Charlotte's Web-themed (the first chapter book we'd ever made it through as a family).  Juniper: Wilbur, Hazel: Charlotte, me: Fern, my man: John Arable.  But as we were headed to the fabric store, Hazel suddenly declared she would be nothing but a blue princess.  And Juniper waffled around, landing on "A big green monster."  In the end, I ran out of time and scrambled for the costumes we already had or could easily acquire.

My mom had given her a firefighter costume and accessories for her birthday.  Juniper had owned it for a full two weeks without trying it on.  Whenever we suggested it, she reverted to her third-person saying, "I think Juniper's too shy of that."  A few days before Halloween, we got her to try it on.  And oh, my.  Her face turned pink.  She was bashful, proud, shy, elated.  She gazed at herself in the mirror, star-struck by her own reflection.  She was nervous.  Hazel sidled right up to her, saying, "It's okay Jun-i-per.  It's okay sister."  The little ballerina-princess consoling a tough firefighter.  So damed cute.
:: And a few more from a month of Halloween and Dias de los Muertos activities: 
Hazel's just always doing that^, regardless of the holiday.  
This is "Little Brother."  He entered our lives the end of September.  He was found to be without a heartbeat, so the kids made him a heart and gave him a few vaccinations.  
Trip to the Pumpkin Patch: 
Hazel is now the camera shy kid.  Plus, she cut her own hair a while back.  
We met up with friends at the patch; the kids were leaping and diving over the straw maze, causing all kinds of mayhem.  
Train ride. 
Kittens in the barn.  
They drew up plans and went to work.  
Halloween's Eve, we sat around the pumpkins, telling "witch stories."  
Halloween!  Behold: Fire, Elsa, Firefighter, and Hans
(Despite the time-crunch, I did manage to make my and Hazel's wool felt crowns.)
We do "Trunk or Treat" in our little town.  It's good for little kids, but when they get bigger we'll hit the neighborhoods.  
For weeks Juniper had been afraid the firefighters would recruit her and she'd never come home again.  When he noticed her costume ("No way!  You're a firefighter!") and invited her to tour the fire engine, she backed away, stammering, "No, no, no!"  

Friday, October 24, 2014

I am here

Hi.  Still here.  Life has been busy this autumn, in a good way, with one sad curve ball thrown in--we lost my kids' great-mamaw.  Oh, there is so much to blog about.  So many necklaces of words and photos I'd love to string together.  The time will come.  For tonight, just wanted you to know we're still here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

the last first day

^Camping lakeside last weekend.  A rare, unimpeded, photo of this kid.^

Juniper Autumn's (last) First Day of Preschool
September 9, 2014
^Last-minute toast with Grandma as we run out the door.^  
As of this writing I have no clue what next year holds.  Will we homeschool?  Will I send her away for a 9 hour day (counting the 2 hour roundtrip bus ride) to Kindergarten? Will we move?  Four years ago we couldn't conceptualize this predicament, let alone how soon it would come.

:: As for Hazel's first morning home alone, she chose to dress like a bear and sail to her heart's content.  "I said high mama!  That's not high.  HIGH!!!"  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

hiking with little kids

(Gee whiz, I'm tired.  I started this a couple days ago....)  

I have a vacation post, summer snaps, garden post and a big ol' letter to Hazel brewing in my blogging bucket.  But first....
:: My happy place: outside, roaming the wilds of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, placing feet to earth, cool, a camera in my hand, with my three favorite people.  We had the best hike today.  
 We hadn't hiked much this summer, it was so hot (high 80's), we gravitated towards water instead.  But then, monsoon rains!  Hail!  More rain!  Everything cooled off.  Flies vanished.  Mosquitoes too.  (Also today, sadly, my tomatoes are dying from some fungal blight.)  But dang if this isn't the perfect hiking weather.  
We made tracks, played games, explored newly fallen pinecones and half-rotting bolete mushrooms.  Hazel half rides, half hikes, but Juniper will run up a steep trail, leap over logs and dash up gravely scree, if she has cause.  This hike, we were all trying to push the capacity of our lungs and so we made a game of it.  
I (or my husband) would sprint up the trail until my lungs collapsed, then dive behind a tree and await my prey.
Juniper would run up the trail behind me (Hazel in her wake), squealing, anticipating the surprise attack of a wild, roaring bear.  Together, they would knock me to the ground with their magic freezing powers.  And in this way, we made it to the top of a steep hill. (I was sore the next day.)  
(^Sorry about the crappy photos...I've been exploring my new iphone, learning what it can and can't do.  It can do a lot, and it can't do much.)
When that game wore out and the kids would ask for a snack break right after having a snack break, we moved on to "flower power":  I'd pick a plentiful wildflower to carry Juniper further up the mountain.  She'd hold it high in the air and march up the trail.
We'd stop and tuck into mountain maples.
Or pick berries.  Kids are natural foragers and they love plucking something right out of the forest and popping it in their mouths.  (It is well worth it to know your edibles.)      
Or their pockets.
We were too late for huckleberries, but we came home with enough oregon grape to make a batch of jelly.  
Most glorious of all, when we got as far as we were going to go, we ducked into a dry wash.  My man took the best kind of nap and Hazel found a fairy cave.  The kids went bonkers, spending the next half hour or so cleaning, furnishing and decorating the fairy cave.  And I had absolutely nothing to do but watch, make suggestions, and simply exist in the presence of my children.  My happy place.  
^Note the stack of "firewood" staying dry inside the cave.  
In the end, this little fairy ended up with: dry firewood, a fire-ring, a cup, bowl, plate and spoon; flower decorations, a cradle and pillow for her baby, a supply of (poisonous but it doesn't matter because fairies are magical) berries, a flagpole, tent, sleeping bag and pillow--in case she wanted to camp outside of her cave.  
They would have kept on going but I insisted we leave in case the fairy came back home, since we were sure to frighten her away.  
You know how you can have a gloriously full day?  We had a full hike.  Even though we were no more than a mile from home and we never made it above timberline and we didn't even have a creek to walk along, we had a complete, satisfying, bucket-filling hike.  
 My man was rested, Hazel exhausted, I was in my happy place, and Juniper was pumped.  
 She ran down the trail a la Laura Ingalls in the prairie grass, but tripped on a rock, flew through the air and landed on her face.  
She wiped the tears away, laughed about her flying body, and was ready to pick berries again.  We were only gone from the house for a few hours, but it felt like the universe had granted us a whole extra day together.  My happy place.