Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dear Juniper, you at 4

Dear Juniper,
I am chopping green onions for our scrambled eggs.  Coffee's brewing.  I've cracked the kitchen window open.  You and Hazel are red-nosed and playing hard outside.  It's 17 degrees.  You are flying a homemade "kite" (yarn taped to a filleted dum-dum wrapper and tied to a popsickle stick) from the top of a mountain of snow by the pine tree.  I hear you yell: "OKAY!  EVERYBODY READY FOR THE CHICKEN PARADE?!"  
^The chicken parade.  Sometimes, the chicken race.^    
You are not a fan of convention.  Your imagination alone could steam-roll asphalt.  You are an innovator.  Just tonight you were building something that would "repair a hole in a mirror or a stuffed animal."  You were working with an electrical outlet safety plug, a wooden dowel, a chain, a carabiner, a screwdriver, some painter's tape and a fake, heart-shaped jewel.  "Okay dad.  Get all your tools!  Let's get to work building!"
You shun instruction.  You prefer to learn your own way (sometimes the hard way).  You are stubborn.  
You regularly douse house fires (red and orange playsilks) with water (blue playsilks).  You say you want to be a firefighter.  You still speak in the third-person, a lot.  Today in the car you announced: "Juniper's definitely into fires this year."  

The other day you ran outside naked excepting an unzipped coat and snow boots.  You slid down the rough, frozen snow bank and skinned your bum up pretty good--all scraped and bleeding.  You said, "I was sliding down the mountain and I thought a shark came up behind me and bit my bum!"        

And yet, despite your rough and tumble side, you are loving and kind.  You have an exuberance for life and you share it.  You are an amazing, patient, loving and playful big sister.  If you've created something while Hazel's napping, you say, "Ooooh!  I can't wait to show Hazel!"        
Every night you sleep with a mama-knitted pea under your mattress.  
You are a leaping, twirling princess.  
And an avid bug collector.  
^Playing with one of your "pet crickets."^  
Lately you've been building a "race course" for spiders.  (Hi mom!  This is how the doll house furniture gets played with.)  
You make elaborate "set ups" that started with stuffed animals,
Moved on to Playmobil,
And are now operating with anything you can get your hands on (see spider and chicken races above).

You've been playing doctor for a solid year and a half now.  You love stuffed animals.  You rescue animals, operate on animals, and take care of animals.  (You also pretend-butcher and cook animals.)  You host a "pet show" almost daily.    
^Using the "x-ray camera" (toiletpaper roll binoculars).^
^Performing the operation with chopsticks.^
And almost daily, you give birth to animals.    
You are fascinated by blood.  You are learning about all aspects of human anatomy, but blood and the digestive system are your favorites.    
^Cut your finger helping dad work on the car.^

You love books.  You love books.  You would never turn down a good story.  
You have a world of pretend that you rarely leave. 
^Shooting targets and winning the gold in the women's Olympic biathlon.^  

You fire off questions and demands so fast your tongue practically locks up and you nearly hyperventilate.  "Okay mama you're the tailor and Hazel's Anna and this is her new red coat and I'm the mama and what happens next? and oh, we're having a big celebration and I'm the mama and Hazel's the tailor, no I mean Anna and you're the tailor and who's...who's the farmer and the weaver? okay sit right here while I...and we have a cake, what kind of cake is it again? okay so come over here and say, 'Anna what a beautiful red coat' say it, say it now to Hazel...."  
^This is you directing a complete reenactment of A New Coat for Anna.^  

You help me cook, 
And lately you're into "science experiments."  
You have a ton of energy, except when you're tired or hungry or have to poop.  You like to climb trees.  You like to be naked, saying you have to "shed" your "fur."  You are the only member of our family who can reliably pick up our chickens.  They love you.    
You can spot elk on the hillside before anyone else.  

You are an animated, outgoing social butterfly.  You love meeting new people.  You are good to your friends.  You will spontaneously burst into song and dance.  Your most recent favorite song: "The Ants Go Marching."     
You eat like a real kid.  You love all sorts of food, but especially carrots, apples, beets, strawberries, cashews, clam chowder and tofu phad thai.  You will inhale any type of dough or batter.  Lately, you are drinking more water than milk which is a switch.  Ice cream sends you to the moon.     
^Here you made an "apple tree" from a sprig of fennel and some discarded strawberry tops.^

You are almost four-and-half now.  On your birthday, your favorite colors were red, pink and purple.  Last week they were "all the colors of the rainbow."  Today it was yellow "like the sun."  
You are so excited about spring.  You say it is your favorite season.  

You always hold up one finger to drive your point home.

The other night, you took your moon-shooting tools to bed (a pretend bow and arrow you made from a twig and scrap yarn) so you could "catch the moon" (like the coyote who shoots the stars to form constellations in one of our Native American stories).  

I've said this before and I'll say it again.  You make me want to be a better person.  You challenge me everyday.  You make me want to seek out the best parenting choices I can muster.  You simultaneously make me think I'm doing a terrible job and a great job.  

Because of you, I know unconditional love.  Because of you, I know purpose, pride and humility.  Because of you, I am learning connection.  Because of you, I am present.  Because of you, I know grace.  I am so thankful that get to be your mother.  I would catch the moon for you.  I love you Junebug.  ~Mama  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

finding zen

Oh, hi!  
I'm not really sure where to start this.  Today I'm using one of my "day off" gift certificates I got for Christmas (BEST gift EVER).  So far, I've run to the grocery store for some cough medicine because I'm tired of waking up in the middle of the night and coughing for hours, then greeting the morning exhausted.  I've showered.  I've managed some of our family finances.  I have a pot of coffee by my desk, NPR turned up loud while my family probably just finished Juniper's gymnastics class and is, as we speak, picking up our raw milk share "at the farm with the funny turkeys."
Usually, I make a point to enjoy the now of parenthood, the moment we're in--chubby babies and toddler tantrums alike (okay, I could skip the tantrums).  But I'll admit, I've been looking forward to 2-and-4 since Hazel was born.  Just wait until they're two and four!  You may have heard me say these words.  And I'll also admit, 2 and 4! didn't come with the stroke of autumnal birthdays.  But now?  Now?  Now, we're at TWO and FOUR and it's awesome.
They have this whole sisterhood that has nothing to do with me; their own magical little world.  And granted, they've been playing together like peas in a pod for a good year, but that play has extended outside and Hazel's okay if I'm not there.  
On this day, we were out all morning.  I headed in to make lunch, they stayed out.  I brought lunch out for our first picnic of 2014.
:: These days, Juniper has nary finished her last bite of breakfast before she slips on her boots and coat and heads outside.  Just a month ago, it took a small act of divine intervention to get my kids dressed in all their gear and outside.  In our world, snow is mundane and spring is magic.  Water!  Mud!  Robins!  Oh my!  
^Preparing to set sail on a pirate ship, in case you can't tell.^
Juniper: "Mama, we have a beach so close to our house!  It's just a short walk.  We don't even have to drive!"  
^Hazel's signature scrunchy face and forehead injury.^

:: Life and emotions are such a yo-yo and parenthood exaggerates that fact.  So one day I'm writing about this new independence, the awesomeness of 2 and 4! and the next day I'm beating my head on the kitchen floor (okay, not really).  I take the liberty to get myself dressed and cut my toenails, then I spend the next two hours paying the price.
Creamy crayons, which are not as washable as they claim, on: the floor, the kitchen wall, the table, the kids, the toilet, the sink, the bedroom wall, the wool rug.  We clean up, we go outside.  Hazel cries the entire time because she's two and wants to climb the tree like a four-year-old.  It's our third day home in a row.  A small town on a Sunday.  We need to get out but there's no where to go.  And just like that, awesome turns to awful and my head is on the kitchen floor.
And then, the coin flips again.  Hazel goes down for a nap, I find my zen.  We're back to awesome.  
:: I know I haven't been in this corner for a while.  But I have been whiling away at a few projects.  This one here: an oak toy chest Juniper received on her first birthday from her great-grandparents.  It was made by their 93 year old friend, now gone.  It was a little rough around the edges and has a heavy lid.  I sanded it smooth as a baby's bum, rounded out the corners, put a safety hinge on the lid and a natural oil finish.  My girls now have a dress up chest.
:: Got an early start on leeks, basil and lupine.  Tomatoes and peppers next in line.  
:: Scattered about my house and purse, tucked inside journals and piles of mail, are scraps.  Kid quotes I've jotted down.  Some adult quotes too (I need to write down more of these because really, we say some pretty goofy things to our kids).  I have spent a few evenings consolidating these into a book.  I'm almost done but I keep writing down more.   A few random gems:

Juniper choosing squash seeds: "This one looks like it has a lot of love in it."

Hazel, singing to the tune of Country Roads:  "Mashed potatoes, take me home...."  

Me: "We always eat dead things."

My man: "Mmmmm.  Yummy dead chickens."

Juniper, in her classic third-person:  "Juniper's not a woman.  She's just a girl making pancakes."

:: Once the kids are in bed, lately, I've been spent.  And yet the need to do something for myself is overpowering.  All I could bring myself to do of late, is knit.  I'll watch a movie and whip magic with two sticks and a length of wool.  This here sweater is for me.  (I told you I needed to do something for myself!)  The first sweater-for-me in far too many years.  The wool is handpainted "peaches" from Mountain Meadows wool.  It was grown, shorn, spun, and dyed in Wyoming.  Actually, it has never left Wyoming.  Love that.