Friday, June 9, 2017

19/52 & 20/52 & 21/52 & 22/52.

Another four weeks gone by. Jon and I were in and out of town during the month of May, and a bit into June too. We had what I think were the last of our friends' weddings, phew. It always amazes me how I'm able to compartmentalize my "motherness" when I'm away from the kids. I feel like a different person. Not a better person, and not even the person I was before kids. Just different. A part of me is definitely missing, like a phantom limb. But there's a part I regain, too. I'm sure--or at least I hope--the kids are the same and live entirely in the moment when I'm not there.

During the time we were home in May, much of it was a bit soggy and gray for my liking. But the garden is happy. And now the sun is shining and, oh, it's nice to hear the clap of the screen door again. I just don't think I made enough time to look around and breath in and absorb this springtime. And here they are forecasting 90s this weekend.

Some notes: The girls have taken to asking for "naked ice cream," after I made them disrobe to eat some double-chocolate ice cream one evening. On Mother's Day, in a fit of frustration, Cecile asked, exasperated, "But when is child's day?" Another good "Cecile-ism": When we were away and the girls were at my parents', after noticing my father was did all the cooking and all the cleaning, she says, "Mac! You're just like Cinderella!" Tell her she's a silly goose and she'll say, "I'm not a silly goose I'm a person!" One hundred percent, girlfriend. You absolutely are.

Hello Genevieve, you're TWO! And your word explosion! Everything is a full sentence, though things aren't entirely in the right order. "In my hand, cap bubbles outside," means she's holding the cap to her bubbles in her hand and she is outside. Though we haven't been nursing for about a month now, we still crave a closeness. She always asks me to "rock a bit" before bedtime, and to rub her back. I hate to admit it, and perhaps it's because there are no extra hormones at play, but I'm more inclined to indulge her in this regard than I did when Cecile was this age. This makes me a little sad, that I couldn't have been more giving of myself with Cecile. It also highlights to me how siblings, though equipped with an inborn temperament, will interact with their given environment, which shifts from sibling to sibling, and that contributes to their personality.

Another wayward thought: I never thought I'd love having two girls. I mean, I love it. With both pregnancies I thought we were having boys, and even after they were born I've never adopted the girlie-girl, frilly, pink, princess thing. (No giant flower headbands on my bald babies, thank you.) Perhaps it's because my sister was born when I was fifteen and until then I grew up with four brothers? I don't know. And while I'm sure maybe all siblings support each other--at least at this age--there is some kind of special kinetic energy I see in Cecile and Genevieve's relationship. It's a true sisterhood thing going on, and it's not anything I've taught or fostered. I'm certainly not doing the best job describing it, and I can't give you a concrete story or example to explain it any better. But it's there and it's awesome. And so that's that. Welcome, June.

Monday, May 8, 2017

15/52 & 16/52 & 17/52 & 18/52.

Time cascading! I am always so disappointed in myself when I don't keep this log current. Late last week I finally set aside time to cull through photos since my last post and I can see such clear physical changes in the girls. Describing exactly how they have grown, on the other hand, is considerably more difficult. And naturally, recalling specifics becomes more difficult with every passing minute ... of which there have been many, many, many since my last entry. And so ...

I'll start with Genevieve. A flurry of words accompanies her wherever she goes. About a month ago, she and I were sitting at the kitchen table and she was wholly occupied with her yogurt breakfast. Until she broke the silence, declaring, "Mac eats my toes!" It was her first complete sentence. (A little context: My father, whom the girls have dubbed 'Mac' makes quite a scene nibbling on the girls' bare feet whenever he sees them.) Her words were proof there is so much more going on in that little mind of hers than I give her credit for. Like, the other day when the skies were pouring sheets of rain, without a prompt she found and put on her goulashes. It shouldn't, but it so impressed me. Also, she refuses to be misunderstood. I love this little thing she does: While she's generally a patient person who is happy to sit on my hip as I tidy the house and such (my back is paying for this move as of late), if she has something to say and I'm not giving her the attention she needs to say it, she grabs my chin, directs my face to face hers, and then tells me what she needs. It's really funny. There's still some baby yet in her, though. We are no longer nursing, but she still loves a good long snuggle, loves to give big hugs, loves to be loved. She still has her chicken run, as we call it, and that delicious protruding toddler tummy that is so fun to kiss. She's in a really good place, lately. This age and phase she's in may be my very favorite.

And then I also have my Cecile. That one is a strong personality. Or continues to be a strong personality. (Pantsuit nation!) Oh my goodness, and her mind is a steel trap. There has been more than one instance lately that she recalls details about things that I either thought she wasn't paying attention to (i.e. adult conversation) or that happened so long ago I barely remember all the details. And she has been reading! Really! She'll pick up the newspaper and piece together sentences, or strings of words. I am so impressed. She has also been pushing boundaries, spinning some mighty tall tales lately. One that made me laugh: A friend of hers from school is one of four children and she gets school lunch. Cecile asked me if she, too, could start getting school lunch and I absent-mindedly told her when we have four children in our house she could. (Please note we have zero plans to have four children in our household.) A week or so later her teacher cautiously offered her congratulations on our growing family. I set that record straight so fast. So, so fast. And girlfriend has also gotten tall. Suddenly I look at her and she's just so long. Like, there is true length to her neck, and her shorts and skirts are suddenly mini. None of her shoes fit. There is not a bit of baby left in her.

The girls play together better and better. There are conflicts, sure. And poor Genevieve gets hurt--by a sister in a non-sharing mood, or when she is trying to be bigger than she truly is--more often than I'd like. But she rolls with it. Cecile is a great teacher. She loves to instruct, and when she's in the right mindset, is one of the most patient people. Both of them love ballet, which I love, though I am trying not to encourage it too much or get too excited. Both love reading--I really lucked out there. Legos and building toys are a big hit, lately. Even when it's soggy, the kids want to be on the new swing, or digging in the garden. We are less afraid of getting dirty. 

So it's good. We're good. And there have been a lot of things lately that I won't get into in this forum that have further highlighted just how good we have it, how lucky we are, and how fleeting this all is. Even though, yes of course, there are challenges. There are stresses. But yeah, it's pretty damned awesome and I am trying to live it and absorb it so that when it's gone, as it someday will be, the memory will be there and it will be nourishing.

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 ...