Psssst. I know you see the princess, but do you see the pea? ^
Whew. I felt like I was holding my breath. But, no, we did not get turkeys. These are--in Hazel's words--the infamous "funny turkeys." We see them once a week down at the farm where we now pick up a share of fresh cow's milk. Gobble gobble.
People always say--in the same sing-songy voice as, Sleep when the baby sleeps!--that in order to take care of your children, you have to first take care of yourself. I'm calling bullshit on that. For me, taking care of myself involves: 1) Eating well, 2) exercise, 3) sleep, 4) keeping family relationships afloat and, 5) pursuing my own creativity.
Because my husband and I cook--almost always from scratch--three square meals a day for the kids, I either directly or indirectly (if I'm eating off my kids' plates) eat well. Check. Keeping family relationships afloat falls on all of us and sometimes we're sailing the high seas and sometimes we're treading water, but by golly we're not drowning. Check. Every night after the kids are tucked-in and well on their way to dreaming about fighting fires and rescuing baby jaguars and riding friesian horses on the beach, I slip upstairs to my project room where I either write, process photos, sew or knit. Creative pursuits, check.
But. Sleep...when? Exercise...huh? If I sleep I have to give up the creative pursuits and that's not an option. My nearest relatives are at least one state away, so no one to take my kids out to lunch while I kick up my feet and knit for an hour. Nighttime is my only time.
And exercise, oh, that slippery fish. Exercise was not a problem back in those delirious, golden days of having a single child. Daily walks. Remember those? Remember how easy that was? Or mom-and-baby exercise classes where the moms sweat and the babies crawl around whacking each other with toys. Those were the days, I'm telling you. They shine like stars in the murky depths of my memory.
So instead of patting myself on the back, because hey, at least I'm taking care of my children--I am in the dumps. Clearly I cannot take care of myself which means I'm not taking care of my children which means I'm failing on all accounts. Shit.
All those thoughts had been floating around in my head for days when, on my man's last full day with us for a while, we decided to throw in the towel on Hazel's nap (taking the risk that she may not sleep while Juniper jabbers on and repeatedly bumps her boots)--and go skiing.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds--and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of--wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew--
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
~Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee, killed December 11, 1941
:: We skied all afternoon until the sun dipped behind the low, western mountains. Both kids napped. We felt more rejuvenated than we had in months. The trail is a half-mile from our house. It was groomed last week, I think. We'd never been on it. Loops of trails wander for miles over the mud flats and frozen lake. I am pumped. I'm thinking of picking up some skate-skis. My body feels good. My back hurts a little less.
I stopped at the warming hut, just to take a peek for future reference. As far as I know, the trails and hut exist all thanks to local volunteers and grant money. It's awesome.
It has a little gas stove, some gorgeous hand-hewn pine chairs and benches, and a table with a random assortment of business cards and local information. In the frame was the poem I quoted above. Obviously it's about flying, but on that day, I was.
Well, shit. I feel like I've spent the last week starting and re-starting this post, in varying states of mental integrity. Once when my back was locked-up and I couldn't move for two days, once when I was frustrated-as-hell at Hazel's new nap routine, once when we finally got the Big Dump we normally see in November. And now. Tonight. Hopefully this is it and I can send this belated Christmas post to the sphere.
:: Alas! For two days it was light and fluffy, like walking through crystalized air. Now, it's warmed up and compacted a bit--sticky enough to make a snowgirl. This morning we went on a family nature walk on snowshoes--so rad! Slowly, we're finding our roots with children in tow--one of our New Year's resolutions.
Christmas morning. My dad's photo perfectly captured Juniper's excitement when she realized Santa had been to our home, eaten cookies and gulped down milk.
Santa left two rollerbags, each with an animal inside (a coyote for Juniper, a buffalo for Hazel) and a real stethoscope. They are all set for some serious veterinary work and a trip to Cambodia.
^J bug listening to a real heartbeat.^
We had coffee and coffee cake, followed by individual stockings--many of which were loaded with handmade, fair-trade, international fare. (Santa is such a worldly, thoughtful guy.) Next up was savory tomato-goat cheese quiche, followed by a slow day opening gifts. Each is opened individually, allowing time to play with, admire, or try-on--interspersed with naps and play. We finished just before bedtime.
^One of my last-minute, late-night projects: a baby sling for Hazel.^
^Playing "Let's go to Cambodia!" with Grandma L and Grandpa. Pictured here, Grandma L is the tuk-tuk driver. There is no room on a tuk-tuk of course, so the girls had to ride under the driver's seat (I don't know what's up with the dog). Grandpa was the airplane pilot who flew them across the ocean.^
At Christmas dinner (cranberry elk meatballs, baked squash and salad) I inadvertently started what I hope will become a new tradition. Instead of saying grace as usual, and wanting to shift the focus, I asked everyone what gift they were most proud of giving. I gave my own example: I was most proud of giving my mother-in-law a mug. Because it was hand-made by an individual artisan, it was something I sought-out--a thoughful gift--and the style (it has a thumb rest) helps her hold the tea mug steady (she has shaky hands). My husband said he was most proud of the buffalo sausage he sent his grandparents because he hadn't given them a gift in years, and it's something local to us but not to them, plus it's edible (they really don't need things anymore). My dad was most proud of a soup thermos he'd given my brother because he thought it would be great to take to work, but mostly, because my brother's hard-as-hell to shop for. And my step-mom, well, she was most proud of these twin-sized beauties (plus matching doll quilts!):
Front and back of the girls' new quilts. As she says, she normally doesn't have the attention span for anything larger than a lap quilt, so she was most proud that she pushed through and finished. Soon we'll have twin beds but for now, they're folded in halves and thirds:
:: I felt bad because as Murphy's law dictates, the kids hadn't been sick since October, but the day my parents show up, blam. Juniper gets a fever. We laid low most of the time they were here, but for their last day, we packed up and headed out from breakfast to bedtime.
Annual sleigh ride on the elk refuge (click here, here and here for previous rides):
^Playing the elk bingo game on the sleigh.^
^Another of my dad's awesome photos.^
Thai for lunch followed by a trip to the Wildlife Art Museum.
Quick drive to look for big horn sheep (didn't see any):
^Looking back toward the elk refuge.^
Polished off with dinner downtown:
^The girls and grandpa.^
Best Christmas lights on the drive home:
:: Said goodbye to my dad and step-mom, spun on one heel, and headed to the grocery store to stock up for our final round of merry-making: A family-style New Year's party at our home...counting down when the New Year was probably reaching Iceland.
:: 2014. My back is loosening up, Hazel seems to be adjusting to her naps, winter is here, and I have been a fiend--fueling two new nighttime obsessions at once: knitting and the TV series, Homeland. We've just started season one and I am already two-thirds done with a vest for Hazel. Yo!