Thursday, April 6, 2017

13/52 & 14/52.

Despite Genevieve having strep throat and Cecile picking up some 24-hour fever, the girls and I have found a little bit of harmony lately. Okay, harmony not so much like Handel's "Messiah." It's more akin to hearing Row Row Row Your Boat in a round, a little off-key, and perhaps sung in a way you can't always tell for certain whether or not the canon is intentional. But it's most definitely the same song.

The dance starts when we come home from school. There is a snack, and I cook dinner while the girls play inside or out. (Yes! We've been able to be outside lately! A game-changer.) We eat around six o'clock. Cecile clears the plates and we march upstairs by 6:30. Pajamas on, teeth brushed, and I [try to remember to] lay our tomorrow's clothes. Each girl picks one book, which we read together in Cecile's bed. Then we turn out Cecile's light, I tell her a story and sing her a song from the door jam ("Maybe" from Annie, "So Long Farewell" from The Sound of Music, and "McNamara's Band" are current favorites), and then wish her goodnight and close the door. Then I go nurse Genevieve in her rocking chair before placing her in her crib and wishing her goodnight, too. Since her fall last month she cries when I put her down, but quiets herself and falls asleep within a few minutes. It's about as much as I can ask for. And the whole thing is usually done by 7:30. 

Does it always go smoothly? Absolutely not. Why, on Thursday last week Cecile let herself out of the backyard with Genevieve in tow for a "flower fairy walk" without telling me. I found them around the block with a neighbor; my heart in my throat. So I bought latches for the fence gates. And on Monday Cecile escalated her boundary pushing by hitting Genevieve, and later, me. Which is completely unacceptable and we had to stop everything to make completely clear just how unacceptable the behavior truly was and is and will always be. So, yes, the process is still trying. Very, very trying with many long, deep breathes. But like I said: Same song! Maybe my larger point is that it may have taken nearly two years, but I am finally, finally, finally not completely and entirely overwhelmed by the idea of staring down bedtime with two children alone. Small [mental] victories [of my own], I suppose. 

Naturally, everything is about to be shaken up. This weekend Jon's extended family is in town for a memorial service and Seder dinner. And then Tuesday the girls and I are up and out and down to Florida to be with my mother's side of the family through the Easter holiday. The girls will be sharing a room for the first time and I'm more than a little nervous about it, but I am hoping hours of sunshine and sand will poop them out enough that they go to sleep and stay asleep. And if they don't, I'm going to try very hard to check my idea of what constitutes a vacation and find a sliver of joy in what bare feet in the sand before 6 a.m. feels like ... before pleading with my dear husband to, again, please  update my passport and book us a damned vacation of our own ;) ;)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

11/52 & 12/52.

The trouble with the month of March is that you can't count on the weather to be consistent. Our front-hall closet is brimming with every scrap of outerwear we own: puffers for thirties (or colder, ugh), parkas for forties, slickers for rain, fleeces for layering, and light jackets for all those other days when you could probably go coatless but you know you'd only be asking for a cough. Oh, but we are so ready for a change, and to be regularly out of the house! The craft closet is low on supplies (and I don't feel like restocking, frankly), and I'm tired of root vegetables (except beets; I cannot tire of beets). Summer will come soon, I know. But I am praying to Demeter or Persephone or whomever the correct nymph or goddess or spirit or whathaveyou may be that we have a proper springtime. Meaning days on end when it's cool in the shade but warm in the sun, with a fragrance in the air. Yes yes yes, please.

Cecile is really something, lately. She's been crafting these little webs of lies. Nothing harmful, and even plausible, but absolutely untruthful. An example: The other day I made pasta for dinner with a pesto sauce. She has liked pesto in the past and it's a good way to sneak in some spinach. "I already tried this today at school and I don't like it," she says. See, I know none of this is true. And if I press her for details or ask if her teacher would confirm, she backpedals and admits the fabrication was "only in my dream, Mommy." And speaking of dreaming, she has had trouble sleeping through the night lately. Nightmares. She will come to our room and silently stand by my pillow until I wake up (yes, it's a little ... creepy). Then Jon or I will march her back to her bedroom and lay with her for a little bit, coaxing her back to sleep with varying degrees of success. These can be long nights. We're dealing with a growing, very active mind. 

Genevieve is eating everything in sight. She doesn't question what's on her plate. "Try," "eat," "buy more" are things I hear from her often, and I'm trying to expose her to as much variety as possible during what I see as an open window for exploring different tastes and textures and varying degrees of spice. And she loves spice! It's great. Also, I am trying to wean her. Or I'm trying to try to wean her. It's difficult because we both so enjoy it, and unlike Cecile (weaned just shy of 22 months), she only asks for it before nap and nighttime, so it's always at home and on my terms, which is wonderful. I am ready to stop, to buy new bras and to wear "access-less" outfits once again. I also fully know that nursing her forever will not keep her a baby forever ... something I'm dealing with as we march ever closer to her second birthday. 

Speaking of independence, I went away for two nights. It was the first time I traveled alone and not pregnant since before I was pregnant with Cecile. That's almost six years! Long, long, long overdue! Oh, I missed the girls terribly. Jon, too. Actually, what the trip crystallized for me more than anything was how badly Jon and I need to get away together. We have a few childless mini-trips for weddings on the horizon and are very, very much looking forward to the break. Everyone always says it and it is cliche, but they are right: Leaving your children makes you a better parent. I believe it because after my time away I have lived it.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

7/52 & 8/52 & 9/52 & 10/52.

This little forum of mine has gotten away from me lately. February was warm and March has been cold. During a warm stretch I got over-excited and planted some perennials, only to find them piled with snow and ice a week later. I cut many of our daffodils before the winter storm and enjoyed them indoors, but found the ones I did not snip did manage through the weather and are now reaching their heads upwards again. So it's been a game of getting ahead, of losing ground, of playing catch up, and of learning if I just sat back and did nothing the world would still turn. But of course.

Nobody has adjusted to the daylight savings shift, but it's nice to feel a stronger sunshine on the afternoons the sun does shine. Two weeks ago we all took a turn with the stomach flu and it was about as hideous as you can expect. Then the following week Genevieve fell off the dining room chair and split her lip, earning five stitches. She is fine now and will never remember it. And I forgive myself, as accidents happen. But I'm not sure I will ever forget the blood-soaked images of that morning. A lip can really bleed. I'm so sorry, my littlest girl.

To encourage spring along we have started our vegetable garden indoors under a grow light. Passerby likely think there is something far more nefarious than arugula growing on our windowsill. So be it. Jon and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary, and we installed a tree swing. Not in that order. But: Thirty-six feet of rope! I am probably asking for another accident, but it sure is fun. And so up and down, back and forth we go ...

Monday, February 13, 2017

5/52 & 6/52.

This time of year when the late-winter skies are so often blanketed in grey, I have a physical ache for color and light and sun. Optimism comes more as a choice, it seems, than a natural state of being. I find myself ignoring what really needs to get done and instead pacing the perimeter of our yard, rethinking the garden in its entirety. The perennials are there, hibernating underfoot, but I cannot will any memory of their whereabouts. Trees are bare, their ridges, fissures and furrows in plain view. But I can't recall just how full their branches get, or remember exactly how much sun filters through to the beds below. And though I appreciate the art found in the knotted, naked mess of our wisteria, I am craving more lush surroundings. Summertime seems an eternity away. And yet! The other day I spotted a crocus in the yard. The angle of the afternoon sun is stronger. Promises, more promises of the season's coming change.

We've kept busy lately. Days there are no school we march our runny noses to museums and then return home again to cuddle on couches and read and read and read. And cook. Yes, there has been lots of cooking lately. This is mostly because Genevieve isn't particularly enjoyable to have out at restaurants at the moment. Cecile is going through a bit of a picky-eating phase, which is frustrating because it's so unlike her. But she has such focus in the kitchen. When the mood is right, she can be quite the little sous chef. My Genevieve is a downright delightful child. Truly. Ear infections continue to come and go with her, but she remains mostly upbeat and I am grateful my winter melancholy hasn't rubbed off on her. 

I can hardly believe camp registration is upon us. Perhaps that's why summertime is on the brain. This year, Genevieve will be eligible to attend a program, and so I'm asking myself how much time I want to myself. I am out of practice at "me" and I am so excited to be reacquainted. But I can hear the echoes of every grandmother I've ever met, their it-goes-so-fasts and gone-before-you-know-its. It's true I barely remember what life was like before someone else dictated the emotional tick-tock of my everyday. What a beat it is.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

3/52 & 4/52

There are only a handful of hours every week that all four members of our family are together. So if I'm going to take time away, it's going to be spent meaningfully. Last Saturday I marched in the Women's March on Washington. I left to go out and vent political frustrations and personal fears, but mostly to raise my voice for my two daughters, who cannot. Skies were overcast, but the crowd was radiant. The day brimmed with love and dissent, and I was so relieved to discover so many millions of others around the world feel as anxious as I do. "This is the upside of the downside," Gloria Steinem said at the rally. And she's right: despite the unnerving truth that we were protesting a leader with grossly uninformed perceptions of reality, I was having a fantastic time shouting and dancing in the streets surrounded by so many smart and witty and strong and brave and passionate people. 

Since their conception, my children have forced me to think beyond the immediate. How is our behavior, how are our decisions going to impact the future? Well, I am grimly vindicated that the country in the hands of a nihilistic narcissist is as scary as I thought it would be: climate change denial, amped up nuclear tensions, limitations imposed on the press, isolationism and xenophobia, spiderwebs of spin and lies, mostly lies. However, I refuse to let anger and fear consume our family these next four years. There is real work ahead and I have a sobered awareness of my obligations to my girls and greater community. But I am also trying to hold room in my heart for love, to be present for all the good that can come in the day-to-day. I am upset, but I know we're some of the lucky ones. 
This last week I looked at my phone too often, gave too much attention to the ping of every news alert. I have also not been very good about masking my feelings over the changes in Washington. "Trump has a hard time telling the truth," Cecile declared over breakfast yesterday. While I was bemused my four-year-old can get the facts straighter than our Commander in Chief (I also didn't counter her; sorry, not sorry), I don't think it's entirely fair to expose her to any of this mess. But I'm so frustrated, and some events I read about audibly take my breath away. The kids feel that. It's difficult to be both an informed, active citizen and a good, attentive mother. I want to do more, on all fronts. I must contribute to the world I want more of, starting at home and branching outward.